Sometimes we have a vision, an idea we want to shoot. Sometimes they happen on the spot and sometimes they’ve been formulated over time. And sometimes it feels like we’re running on empty with no inspiration and no ideas.
That’s where I found myself a couple of months ago. Aside from an iPhone ‘doors’ series called NYC42 I shot mostly as a joke, I had not done any photography since I moved to New York over a year before. I needed something to kick-start my creativity and get back behind the camera. But, what to do? I was so used to doing shoots for magazines, I didn’t know what to shoot pictures of.
I decided on doing a 90 day photo project that would force me to carry my camera with me everywhere I went and take pictures every day. I set rules for myself. A new picture every day and no ‘banking’ photos to make it easier.
I am proud to say that I (mostly) stuck to my rules and am in the last 9 days of the project. The result has been dramatic for me. I no longer have to force myself to carry my camera, I grab it instinctually. My passion for photography has been reawakened. My desire to make it my main career has been renewed. This blog is a direct result of the 90-day project.
I would say my project was a complete success. If you are looking for something to get you going, maybe a 90-day project is right for you. Maybe 30 days would be more doable. If it gets you out there and shooting, it’s good practice. But there are other ways, too.
Sometimes inspiration doesn't just jump out at you and yell "take my picture you fool!" I've walked around looking for something to shoot and have found nothing that inspires me or been too overwhelmed with many different possibilities. In these moments I've wished for something to guide me in a specific direction.
For those times when you just need a little direction, there is Daily Shoot. I just discovered @dailyshoot while I was searching for other photographers on Twitter. After I took some time to further check the Twitter profile I realized there was a web site associated with the Twitter account. The site has the assignment of the day and then a gallery of photos posted by photographers participating in the exercise. All you have to do is upload your photo to any of the listed photo services and tweet it with the hashtag #ds238 (the number changes with each sequential assignment). The site then automatically adds your photo to the gallery.
The photo quality and interpretations of the assignment are both diverse and impressive. It is interesting and inspiring to see what other photographers are doing with the assignment.
Another suggestion I’ve read about (and started doing) is to get a film camera, one fixed lens with black & white film and just go out and shoot. No RAW file to correct and no Photoshop post processing to fall back on. You can also use a digital set to black & white but don’t tweek it in Photoshop afterwards.
The most effective exercises are the ones that take you out of your comfort zone. If you are used to shooting in a studio, go outside. If you are used to shooting landscapes, do some street photography. Get out of your routine and you may find some new ways of looking at things.