Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bouncing Back from a lack of Inspiration in Photography

During my recent holiday to Brittany in France, I genuinely thought I was returning to England to write my final photographic blog post. It was during my wife and I's day trip to a place called Lamor-Plage on the south Brittany coast, when I said to myself that this was the day my love for photography died. She was busy excitedly taking lots of pictures with my her Nikon D90, and I could not even get an ounce of motivation to take my D700 out of it's bag. I began to write the blog post in my head about how somehow I just fallen out of love with photography, and that I would move on to do other things. I had seen it coming for the last 6 months, when despite all promises and intentions to post more pictures and blog more regularly, I just couldn't keep to my words. What's more, it didn't really bother more.

My wife began to question me about why I did not seem to want to take pictures anymore and where had all my passion for photography gone, and I couldn't really even find the motivation to think of the answer. As I said, I had detected it coming for months. When I visited Poland in June, there was a particular day visiting a Polish castle, where I also thought my love for photography was dying. I just couldn't get the shots I wanted, and I was getting fed up with photography. Later on (back in France), I began to talk some sense to my wife about why I no longer had the passion for taking pictures. Some of which may or not be true, but here are the conclusions I came to:

1. The Nikon D700 is too heavy. It's no fun carrying it around all day, like I used to with my old Nikon D90, and therefore it takes a lot of inspiration to want to use it.

2. I was bored taking snappy tourist shots during the day, 99% of which I never use. This is definitely true and I think is part of every photographer's growth. I remember visiting places after I discovered a love for photography (Venice is a key one) where I walked around taking pictures all day. The passion and dedication you have to taking so many pictures does lend itself to producing great pictures, but as we get better (and we do!), your inner filter for good shots becomes smaller and more defined, to the point where not many daytime shots inspire you anymore.

3. And this is perhaps the biggie...My desire for wanting to create a business out of my photography had sapped the love I had for it in the first place. This was a painful one to deal with. I believe and still do that there is a big potential out there for interior design photography, but would this mean I was really taking and processing pictures that could keep me interested and inspired? I have probably done more business (paid and unpaid) photography this year and personal requests than personal projects, and after a while it can feel like it takes over your key interests in photography, which naturally you will resent. This doesn't mean I was taking bad photos, I have actually been given very kind and wonderful feedback for my work, and of course that helps.

After talking for a while, my brain decided to come up with a plan to turn this around. Most of it figured around point number 1. I would follow many photographer's lead by selling my DSLR and buying one of the new mirrorless systems. After all, I've heard great things about them, and they are so light! Why would I not be bothered to wear it round my neck all day, it would be so easy! I did some research on my tablet (whilst still on holiday) and had figured I would get one of the Sony ones, particularly the A6000. It wasn't full frame, but it was cheap, the lenses were (relatively) cheap and perhaps a downgrade from a full frame camera was what I needed to get back my love and inspiration.

The thought of a new direction in my head began to work. The next day we travelled to the town of Pontivy and my thoughts at the time were that if these were to be my last shots taken with my D700, then I'll give it all the excitement and time I can. You can see my last blog post for one of the results from that trip to Pontivy. The main thing was though, that I had my heavy D700 and tripod with me, and I was loving it. I took most of my pictures from the holiday over the next 5 or 6 days that remained, including a memorable trip to Mont Saint Michel. Had I not bounced back from my lack of inspiration, we may not have even visited Mont Saint Michel. My love of photography comes hand in hand with a desire to travel and see new places, and if I lose my inspiration for photography, then my desire to see places goes with it.

Now I am back in England, and very much enjoying processing the pictures I took in Brittany, of which there are more to come. And my thoughts have come full circle. I am still unsure what my future camera setup will be, but for now the D700 stays. The full frame Sony A7 camera, which is another camera I had my eye on, does produce lovely images, but for me nothing comes close yet to the great images a DSLR can produce. They feel more real to me. Without wanting to be controversial, I think you can see this in some great photographers who have made the permanent switch to mirrorless cameras, I simply prefer their previous DSLR work, that was so inspiring. This isn't a DSLR vs Mirrorless debate, I'm sure eventually everything will become mirror-free with photography, but I cannot be convinced at the moment that they give the image quality of a DSLR, and I really wanted to believe that. Furthermore, I'm sure someone can point an example out to me, but I have not seen any quality HDR pictures yet with a mirrorless camera. Why, I do not know, but examples I have seen again just feel like something is not quite right to me.

The heavy D700 is not a problem if I feel inspiration and motivation. Yes it does give me shoulder ache when combined with carrying a tripod, but for now, this is one of those things I just have to deal with. I accept that tourist snaps do not inspire me to photograph, and if I decide to leave my camera in the car, that's ok. And for the photography business, well we will just have to see. I put an awful lot of pressure on myself to use my photography as my way out of the 'rat race', but I am content now with letting be what will be. I will keep at it, but not obsess about it. If something comes of it great, but if it doesn't, it's ok. I will always have my amateur love of photography to fall back on.


  1. Great post Pete.

    I know how you feel. There have been times when I have felt just like you, but I have come to terms with the fact that I will not make a fortune out of it. I do it because I enjoy it and publish my pictures for people to enjoy (I hope!). If I sell any along the way then all well and good!

    As for your camera issues, I have studied the mirrorless v DSLR debate and, while I am sure there are some cracking mirrorless options out there, it is the 5D MKIII for me. I have got used to the weight and size, although I am still looking for a decent alternative to the standard Canon strap.

    Keep plugging away mate, we might not get the sort of hits on our sites that Trey gets on Stuck in Customs, but I for one enjoy your efforts!


    1. Hi Tim, your comments as always are much appreciated, and indeed very kind! Doing this photography thing because we enjoy it, is always going to be the best way. That's exactly how I feel. We've both been blogging for a few years now, and it is always great to see your pictures. I'm struggling to keep up with the amount of destinations you're blogging from!

      But really thanks again, I'll keep plugging away!

  2. You mentioned before about your lack of motivation and were finding it hard to be inspired. I pleased to see you have found your energy again. I expect trying to keep us supplied with your wonderful photography and as you mentioned were you able to make a living from it has had its toll. Personally I would be happy to see a fine photograph less often than have you beat yourself up trying to blog frequently. I am sure you will find more inspiration whilst travelling. France for one is a large country and very picturesque. Keep up the good work Pete.

    1. Hi Christopher, Thanks also very much for your kind comments! I very much appreciated your comment especially about happy seeing a fine photograph less often, that is pretty much where my thoughts are! I am not going to promise anymore how often I will or will not be blogging, but I will blog when the picture is ready and I am happy with it. I do tend to give my pictures a few days after processing them now before posting. Time for me to be completely happy with them.

      France is indeed very beautiful, and I can't wait to get back!