21 tips to motivate you

03 January 2017

Region: Headquarters

Need help in getting photographically motivated as 2017 begins?  Here are 21 ideas to inspire you:

1) Set a target for 2017.  This should be something that feels big but that inspires and drives you.  Ideas could range from creating a photo book to applying for an RPS Distinction, thinking of and completing an extended project or planning a photographic trip.

2) Use your emotions and/or experiences to create and develop a project.  For inspiration, read the story behind Kirsty Mitchell's fantastic book Wonderland, to learn how she used a traumatic event in her life to begin a project that ended up taking five years to complete and led to the formation of an impressive body of work.

3) Get outside!  Walking is not only a great way to get fit after extended festivities, but also a fabulous photographic motivator.  When walking perhaps set yourself a task of trying to produce five very different images.  You may choose to take this walking photography idea further and go on a field trip with other keen photographers to share inspiration (for RPS field trips click here).

4) Borrow, rent or buy a new bit of kit.  Buying doesn't have to be expensive as charity, second-hand shops and websites are great places to find items of equipment you haven't tried before - you could also trade in old gear for new.  It is common to find old analogue cameras for £5-£10 which are fun to experiment with and give some interesting results (and there is no other feeling like getting a pack of film images printed which then plop through your letterbox and the anticipation this creates!).

5) Join a course or workshop.  Learning new techniques, being set projects, getting assessed and/or seeing photography from someone else's perspective can be a fantastic motivator.  The RPS has developed a 10 week online course with the Open University and also one or two day workshops around the country which may give you food for thought.

6) Enter competitions.  There are plenty of competitions to enter that give you a targeted image to try and capture along with a deadline of when it needs to be completed by (which means you have to get on and do it!).  We run lots of competitions each year, many of which are free to enter, so visit the Competitions section regularly as new ones are often added. 

7) Attend a talk (or watch one online)Ted Talks for example, include lectures by some incredibly motivating photographers.  We have also included a selection of interviews on the RPS YouTube channel.

8) Sort through your work and look for gaps or ideas that could be developed. You may find themes or connections that you hadn't previously recognised.

9) Print and frame your very best work - when you see how good you are it will give you some much needed encouragement to take out your camera!

10) Try to look at the familiar with fresh eyes. This could range from finding interesting details in your own home to visiting your local city centre or park.  Try to zoom in on things or change the angle of your viewpoint (look at building details above you or patterns of paving slabs below your feet for example).

11) Visit somewhere new.  Create a list of places to visit from a favourite beach to a new city and add to your own ideas by asking other people for inspiration.

12) Visit a photography exhibition.  Be inspired by the successful work of others.

13) Try new techniques.  There are lots of exciting things you can try to help reignite your creative flame.  Light writing, cloning yourself in pictures, applying layers of textures onto your pictures in image editing software, making a pinhole camera etc. etc. etc.  Read this www.techradar.com feature which is full of ideas.

14) Set yourself a complete assignment. This will need thorough planning in advance and may be composed of a series of projects or tasks to one end.  You could have an overall theme such as ‘colour’ with all the tasks falling within that title.  For example, one task might be to create six images depicting 'red', another to create images that display warmth or texture through the use of colour.

15) Schedule in an outdoor event that interests you.  From grafitti artists at work at Upfest in Bristol to a flower show, air display, motor racing or a wedding fair – there really is something for everyone.

16) Create a photography sketchbook.  There are some lovely examples from www.studentartguide.com here.

17) Try working in a different genre.  If you generally create landscape photographs, how about challenging yourself to create a series of portraits?

18) Set yourself some keywords or a theme. Keywords can contain as many combinations as you like but one, two or three words together seem to work well.  This could be 'orange, square and small' for example or 'contemplation'.  A theme could be an extension of this, so using our previous example, 'contemplation' could be studies of six different people lost in thought.

19) Create a self-portrait. Why not try to create an image that shows a side of yourself that has never been seen before? Or an image that reflects how you actually see yourself?  You could also think about creating characters like the photographer Cindy Sherman, who explains her process and motivation in an interview with The Guardian Newspaper here.

20) Shoot from the hip.  This is particularly fun to do in really busy places like a seaside resort or at an event.  As you haven't spent time framing images you can come back with some really interesting and sometimes surprising results.  Why not try it with the camera pointing behind you and use a shutter release button or lead to take this idea even further - it can be a very liberating form of photography!

21) Try a camera setting you have never tried before.  Read about it, experiment and then put it into practice.


Logged in RPS members: Why don’t you contribute your own ideas or progress below?

Image © David Poole ARPS. Smile 01.  This image is featured on the page for the Monthly Competition: Review of the Year 2016.  The competition closed on the 5th of January 2017.

Comments (1)

Mary Cupper
18 October 2017

It is very interesting! I was just studying this guide - The wedding celebrity photo retouching role in styled wedding photo sho http://wedding-retouching.com/blog/post-processing/celebrity-photo-editing.html Such fashion photoshoots inspire me!

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