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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Stopped taking photos
Old 06-05-2015   #1
Austerby
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Stopped taking photos

I've just realised that I've hardly taken any photos this year and my lovely set of cameras and lenses are sitting there grossly unused.

What can I do to re-energise my photography?

(buying new gear is not an option).
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Old 06-05-2015   #2
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I started taking much more photos when I switched back to developing my own films, mainly because it was cheaper and I enjoyed the process. Maybe you could focus on a project or particular theme.

Photography is one of the drivers I have that gets me out of the house and visiting places I've never been before looking for new things to shoot. Eventually I might have to start finding 'new ways of seeing' to re-energise my interest in places I've already been many times before. I suppose this could be using a different focal length or trying to self process colour for example.

Have fun,

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Old 06-05-2015   #3
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Maybe ask yourself what keeps you alive.
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Old 06-05-2015   #4
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At first: don't worry!

It's normal to be 'dried out' in terms of creativity. Sometimes the break will last only weeks or months but it can be much longer…… ;-)

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=148884
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Old 06-05-2015   #5
Andrea Taurisano
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Nothing wrong or worrying in having long periods of inactivity and lack of inspiration. Everything goes in waves, ups and downs in life (especially in mine..).

But keeping your photography alive and well doesn't mean being very active shooting all the time.

When I feel that inspiration and wish to take photos are gone, I spend more time looking at photo books and photo videos, and they eventually come back.
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Old 06-05-2015   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austerby View Post
...and my lovely set of cameras and lenses are sitting there grossly unused...
Maybe you suffer from gear overload..

I see three possible solutions..

1. Sell the whole lot.. maybe except one camera/lens. This is perhaps a bit drastic, so the second one is:

2. Pick the smallest/lightest camera of the lot and literally take it always & wherever you go. Snap reflexively; as in if you see something odd or interesting, immediately take a shot.. that'll get you over shutter block.. And if this doesn't appeal, the third one is:

3. Pick the heaviest, largest and most cumbersome camera you've got, hang it around your neck and literally take it always & wherever you go.. Only allow it to go into a bag or backpack after you've taken a shot..

Personally for me, cycling between #2 and #3 does indeed work..
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Old 06-05-2015   #7
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What can I do to re-energise my photography?
Wait until you see something you want to photograph again. No harm in taking a break.
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Old 06-05-2015   #8
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This has happened to me and I didn't worry about it. I found that looking over my photographs over the years and appreciating the mere fact that I had taken them had the effect of getting me going again. I started carrying a camera again on a regular basis.
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Old 06-05-2015   #9
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Don't agonize too much about this. These "dead spots" come and go. Take family pictures, your cat, whatever, just to stay in touch with your gear.
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Old 06-05-2015   #10
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Me too! I'm in a deep slump after trying to work more digi colour images after stopping film work. I never seem to see an interesting scene. Now going back to IR (digi) as at least I enjoyed the different way of seeing things, then more B&W.
But I have bought a new lens to help, the Panasonic F1.7 20mm for 4/3rds. Hope that simple will help too. Good luck.
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Old 06-05-2015   #11
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Old 06-05-2015   #12
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Charge up the batteries inside you and get going again!
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Old 06-05-2015   #13
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Don't worry. I've just come back after a 3 year break where I was totally unmotivated to enjoy photography. Oddly enough during this period I took hundreds of documentary photo's on my phone (a couple of crappy Nokia 520's) to record work projects etc., but not photography photo's if that makes sense.

And then with the time and tide of all things, I picked up a digital camera and took some photo's. Then some more and then I dusted off my reels and developing gear and then I pulled out some cameras and loaded some film (my last roll of Legacy Pro 100 expired in the bulk loader in 2011!) and started taking photos again.

BTW, my cameras were all wrapped up in newspaper in a suitcase during this 3 year break... The good news is, when I started taking photos again, well the cameras, the Internet and RFF were all still where I left them So if you're not motivated then don't stress; you can either take some of the good advice here to make yourself take more photo's or you can take a break and wait till taking photo's means something to you again and makes you want to grab a camera :-)
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Old 06-06-2015   #14
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Sensible advice all. I suspect it's because I've been exceptionally busy at work - doing a new role that has proven to be both stimulating and rewarding but very demanding of my time and attention. My other leisure activity - sailing - has also suffered as I've hardly used my yacht in the past year.
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Old 06-06-2015   #15
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Just replace your "No photograph" avatar with " Not Sailing" !

Just kidding...

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Old 06-06-2015   #16
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I have had periods where I stopped.
Folks that appeared in my shots suddenly died..
Two murdered separately, in Sunny South Africa.
Fellow photographers, parent kinda added to the weight.
Suddenly i was OK.
I was glad to have the images of "them".
Images I shared with those involved.
I now shoot everyday!
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Old 06-06-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austerby View Post
Sensible advice all. I suspect it's because I've been exceptionally busy at work - doing a new role that has proven to be both stimulating and rewarding but very demanding of my time and attention. My other leisure activity - sailing - has also suffered as I've hardly used my yacht in the past year.
If you've been exceptionally busy at work, why not take your camera for a walk at lunch time? A lunch break improves your work productivity, and walking with your camera will give you a refreshing mental break at the same time.
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Old 06-06-2015   #18
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Get someone to set you a small photographic project and shoot to that brief. When you have done, edit the resulting shots and reduce them to the best 6. That will force you to think about how you shoot and why you shoot and also make you aim for quality not just quantity.
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Old 06-06-2015   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austerby View Post
I've just realised that I've hardly taken any photos this year and my lovely set of cameras and lenses are sitting there grossly unused.

What can I do to re-energise my photography?

(buying new gear is not an option).
Look through all the photos you have taken with those gear.
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Old 06-06-2015   #20
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Personally when I'm in a lull, I revisit my photo books.
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Old 06-06-2015   #21
Duane Pandorf
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Originally Posted by Austerby View Post
Sensible advice all. I suspect it's because I've been exceptionally busy at work - doing a new role that has proven to be both stimulating and rewarding but very demanding of my time and attention. My other leisure activity - sailing - has also suffered as I've hardly used my yacht in the past year.
I'd not worry about not making photos but I'd also start carrying your camera and favorite lens everywhere you go. You may not have a desire to make a photograph but I'm sure there have been times in the past year that you'd wish you'd had your camera with you.
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Old 06-06-2015   #22
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I go through phases of not taking any photos for months on end. I think it's just a natural process of creativity.

Whatever you do, don't sell your equipment. I've seen a couple people go nuts on the classifieds because they think if they're not using it it must be sold, only to regret it later on.

I have tons of cameras that I haven't used in ages but I know I want to keep them. Plus, they are all on a nice camera "gallery" I have in my house, so at least they are still loved.
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Old 06-06-2015   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Austerby View Post
Sensible advice all. I suspect it's because I've been exceptionally busy at work - doing a new role that has proven to be both stimulating and rewarding but very demanding of my time and attention. My other leisure activity - sailing - has also suffered as I've hardly used my yacht in the past year.
First thing I'd do is find a yacht club that has 'gentlemans' mid week racing. A lot of clubs around me have this in the summer, very relaxing and no fuss, plus it keeps the weekend free. It seems like such a shame to have a yacht not being used!

You've already got plenty of good advice re: photography, I've got nothing more to add here!
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Old 06-06-2015   #24
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When it happened to me (>2 year hiatus) I just picked up my old gear and started shooting without any purpose, the love has been rekindled. :-)
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Old 06-06-2015   #25
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Listen to music.
Read something that interests you.
Look at paintings, sculpture.
Don't over think it.
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Old 06-07-2015   #26
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What a pleasure to read such creative, supportive and positive responses with no trolling or negativity. Makes me feel proud to be a member of this forum.

Most of what I would recommend has already been provided but wanted to accentuate the positive messages.

ft
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Old 06-07-2015   #27
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What a pleasure to read such creative, supportive and positive responses with no trolling or negativity. Makes me feel proud to be a member of this forum.

Most of what I would recommend has already been provided but wanted to accentuate the positive messages.

ft
How true, and appreciated.

I am doing some of the things suggested, particularly looking back at photos I've taken. I've just bought a new property (which is another reason for being busy) and this is giving me a reason to look through my archive and select specific photos to be printed and framed to go on the walls. This has certainly been satisfying.

NB just to put things in perspective from an earlier comment, my yacht is a 30 yr old 24ft boat, which cost somewhat closer to a summicron than a summilux when I bought it six years ago. It's not a gin palace, but I love it.
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Old 06-07-2015   #28
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Old 06-19-2015   #29
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Picasso used to say that the work changed when the women changed. Careful with that, though. His last years, and much of the work therein, could be considered a study in dissipation. Could be. I've been looking at it for years, nearly forty, and I can't bring myself to make the generalization.
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Old 06-19-2015   #30
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What other interests do you have? Can you do a photo project around a hobby? Is there an issue that attracts you? Maybe an environmental issue you document. Projects that require you to use the camera can inspire you to make other photos.
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Old 06-21-2015   #31
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Yesterday I shot 200+ photos, today I went there and the heat and humidity was too strong, I just didn't feel like taking any photos so I returned without taking many photos.

What I'm saying is if you don't feel like taking photos, don't take photos. You cannot force yourself to take photos.
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Old 06-21-2015   #32
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I'm actually dealing with the same "issue" right now. I haven't felt a need to photograph anything for over 3 months.
Just yesterday I powered on my DSLR just to make sure it was still working but that's it.

My film Ms are just sitting there in my cabinet... All that glass just sitting there doing nothing...

Kind of sad but I've been dealing with health issues that are taking a toll but I'm getting there. At least I'm not getting worse now.
It's mid Winter in Australia and that's never nice. I much prefer Summer.

So fingers crossed. I'm expecting a change soon.

Just keep going and don't punish yourself.
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Old 06-21-2015   #33
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Same here, starting a business is one thing, growing it to sustainability is (or "feels like") 10x harder.

I hardly have time to stop and rest, let alone to take pictures and darkroom printing.

But... I did break the spell.

Last month I forced myself to stuff a roll into my M4-P and went out on a mission, which results in 24 amazingly-perfect... duds.

Not to be daunted, I picked myself up, brush away the dust off my pants, and I stuffed another roll, this time into my Maxxum 9. And...







I really miss shooting ... and film grain!
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Old 06-21-2015   #34
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Get in your car drive 50 miles in any direction. Load your camera, take a roll. Come home develop it. The next day scan the negatives, and then go through each image and really try to make it your best shot. Look at them and figure what you did wrong on each one. Repeat above until you think you have something excellent.

I've never done anything that I couldn't improve on so that keeps me going. Going not for anybody but for myself.
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Old 06-21-2015   #35
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Quote:
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I started taking much more photos when I switched back to developing my own films, mainly because it was cheaper and I enjoyed the process. Maybe you could focus on a project or particular theme.
Gary
Me too. I hadn't developed my own film in 3+ years. Last weekend, i processed 10 rolls, and set things up so that my chemistry and tools are always available/handy. Those two things alone have given me a bit of a rejuvenation and some inspiration.

As Gary says, as well, it might help to think about it as a project. Make it a goal to shoot and put together a small Blurb book, on one particular subject. Doesn't have to be a Magnum-level effort. But, the single goal and being able to visualize a finished product at the end might be a nice shot in the arm.

Maybe try a new format? You said you didn't want to buy any new gear, but maybe spend a teeny bit on a Holga and try a more relaxed attitude?
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Old 06-21-2015   #36
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Get in your car drive 50 miles in any direction. Load your camera, take a roll. Come home develop it. The next day scan the negatives, and then go through each image and really try to make it your best shot.
I like this idea.
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Old 06-21-2015   #37
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For me.. When I get this way..there seems to be a couple of ways to get me out of my funk. But one thing for sure, I put that camera away for a while before I try any of these two things that so far has worked for me. Sometimes it's a week, other times it's been more like a month or two.

- I find looking at my prints from the past Helps, where looking at that same image from a computer screen just doesn't feel the same. It must be psychological, not sure.. Probably just me.

- Going someplace different, bring a camera, don't force yourself to take pictures, take a walk around, if it comes to u it comes, if it doesn't, well there will be other days.

This year I went through this myself for about two months. The longest ever was two and half years..about 12 years ago. Through all that time, I never sold my cameras, just stored them away knowing I would come back one day when it felt right.

Don't worry about it, just enjoy other things in your life for awhile.
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Old 06-21-2015   #38
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During a slump I try to improve on other aspects of the craft such as making prints.
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Old 06-21-2015   #39
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It is curious that you're not doing photography yet feel as if you ought to. You have no moral obligation to do photography. Maybe you'll come back to taking photographs, maybe you'll find something more rewarding.

That said, often it is good to make rules for yourself. To paraphrase Kant, freedom isn't the absence of laws but the ability for you to make your own. I think it's important, especially when we have a busy life of meeting other people's demands, to enforce our own discipline on our own terms. Maybe consider ways of turning the hobby into a regimen; a certain number of photographs per day or similar - the routine becomes its own reward.
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Old 06-22-2015   #40
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It is curious that you're not doing photography yet feel as if you ought to. You have no moral obligation to do photography. Maybe you'll come back to taking photographs, maybe you'll find something more rewarding.

The feeling that one ought to be doing something is not all that unusual. Reality however sets in, and we do what is actually successful in our lives. I should ride my bike more, the exercise is good, but I have gotten out of the habit, it takes discipline to do the things which relax us or improve us mentally.

Some years I have taken a few thousand photos, many years only a few vacation photos. I only take photos only for a reason (I am so NOT Winogrand), so it comes and goes, photography for me is not a hobby, if I don't have a dealer or a plan, it is hard to make work. But it never hurts to take a quiet walk with a camera.

When I have no plan, going out and looking at work does help, it awakens plans. I looked at Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola at MoMA this weekend, it was stimulating! Creativity is not a something you can just turn on and off like a faucet. Just taking photos to pile up a lot of them, or painting to relax often is difficult to sustain. If you never show them to anyone else, or share them with others who enjoy them, you will in the end likely lose interest, unless you are a robot.

Wait until you NEED some photos. Your next sailing adventure, your next trip. Don't worry so much. Take photos which matter. In the last weeks I have simply been sharing photos from a trip with friends on Facebook. Those "likes" and comments mean something. When a friend thanks you, even casual photography is more fun.

Recent vacation photo, meaningless but fun... like life?
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