Tips to Keep Your Inspiration Alive Through Photographic Exercises

The Colors

Let your little light shine! As a photographer, you often can get either bored with what you’re shooting, totally demotivated, or may even run dry of your inspiration. If you shoot professionally, this is not good at all. If you’re a semi-pro or amateur, it can be a real drag for your hobby. I experienced such a problem recently after shooting for three years and I dedicated my time to ensure that the photographer in me doesn’t die out the way being a musician did for me. Here are my tips to ensure that you keep trudging and moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel during the hard times.

Shoot from the Hip

A tip for the shyest street photographers or those that want to add some creativity to their shots: shoot from the hip. In supplement to part one and part two of the series written on this site, some extra creativity and interesting shots can be added to your discreteness if shooting with a big DSLR like a 5D Mk II. To do this, sling the camera around your shoulder then point it out away from you while keeping your hand on the camera. Put a 50mm prime lens on the camera, set it to continuous autofocus and when you are passing by your subject press the shutter button. It may take some time to learn how to distance yourself from your subject and learn how to shoot while on the move but it is something that will surely keep your brain and hands busy. Additionally, your eyes and mind will try to accommodate to the new situation.

Photojournalism: Tell a Story

With photojournalism, you go into an assignment ready to tell a story. When you get the assignment, you’re already thinking about what pictures to get. Each story has their cover shot, establishing shot, detail shot, filler story shots and their closing shots. Doing something like this gets your creative juices going and gets you excited to tell the story that you’re assigned. Keep a mental checklist for the shots. Once you get them, it will satisfy you to know that you’ve accomplished something (no matter how small it may be.)

Similarly, there are always the must have wedding photography photos.

Feel the Rhythm, Emotions and Intimacy

Life moves at a constant rhythm; whether it’s the heart of a big city’s night life, musical concerts, or a wedding. Everything has a rhythm to it, a lifestyle and culture if you will. Capture that rhythm: document it and make it compelling. All musicians try to entertain, interact with and move their crowds; this is prime for photography. When your dog gives birth to puppies, the mother will obviously start licking and showing her immediate affection to them.

These are the things that make up life. Show these off to people. Try combining it with specific shots you know you’re going to want or by shooting a different way altogether to get a different perspective.

Manually Focus

Before the days where our cameras had a brain built into it, the photographers before us shot purely and totally manually. This is something often spoken about here on this blog. Instead of letting the camera do all the work for you and making it totally brainless and simple work, try doing it all yourself. Of course, you could go get a Leica M9 and shoot with that if you’ve got the money. Otherwise, your regular DSLR will suffice just perfectly.

Try doing bird photography while shooting with manual focus. If you don’t get the shot, review what you did for the day and try to figure out how you’ll get it next time. Experimenting, determination and believing in your skills as a photographer are key.

For Blind Photogaphers like myself, I actually recommend trying out focusing on Micro Four Thirds. I can do so with ease without use of my glasses.

Create Art with Long Exposures


Long exposures allow for endless creativity possibilities. In this case you can take the tripod out with your slower but better quality lenses and create shapes, messages, or even a while series. I’ve seen really nice long exposures with lights that look like aliens are in totally normal places. We’ve written about this a bit here as well.

Tip: create a long exposure with an “I Love You” message. Make a print and give it to a loved one. Their reaction will be rewarding.

Shoot a Rangefinder

I’ve also talked about shooting street photography with a rangefinder. The viewfinder of a rangefinder allows for a much different shooting experience that what you see through your DSLR. If you don’t want to drop the money on the new Leicas, the older film ones can be had for pretty cheap from Adorama or B&H.

What tips do you have to keep your motivation and inspiration going?



  1. says

    These are good idea.
    Some also try the 365 project, which I find bit useless, because the only thing it does, is to make you(!) shoot and post photos everyday, which slowly becomes a burden because shooting a good photo a day is just impossible.

    What helped me, was buying a compact camera. The DSLR is too bulky and big for my every day routine but the compact GX200 is always with me, and it allows much flexibility without the burden of big body.

    Here is an example of a frame I captured before entering my office building –