I asked my Facebook Photography community what they wanted to see me blog about tonight, and the idea of Photographic Awards and Photo Mojo came up.
Since I’m still waiting on the results of a few Competitions I’ve entered, I’ll take up the challenge of Mojo.
Another from a random outing where I just chose to get in the car and go...
You know, that invisible force that pulls you out of bed early to shoot sunrise, stay up late chasing stars or storms. It forces you to spend money on equipment to make your life and shoots easier, without question you’re doing it all for the passion.
It’s that thing inside you that pulls you towards the computer to finish the job, process, perfect every single detail in an image until it’s like the most beautiful cake – delicious, sweet and balanced. You tinker, twist and test every single processing style until it’s just so.
It’s the feeling of life inside yourself, the spark that is ignited when discovering new techniques, or even just getting out and shooting. You know you can live it, breathe it and feel it coursing beneath your skin, an itch you need to scratch, a place you need to go - a work you need to create.
But not everyone feels this urge, willingness or need to shoot or create…
What happens when the Mojo is gone, the spark has been snuffed and the lights turned out.
How do you get yourself back to the living and breathing embodiment of an Artist?
I’ve been on both sides before, having been stuck for lack of inspiration, motivation and dedication. I can relate to not feeling the need or desire to create. It’s an artistic depression, you feel like there’s no point, that someone else has done it before you, or that it isn’t an original idea anymore. Maybe Photography is no longer a featuring part of your life. Priorities change, something gets dropped in favour of another thing, facet or activity taking centre-stage for you. Whatever your reason, if you’re dedicated to getting it back, here’s some things to try…
1. Start an INSPIRATION-WALL
Inspirational / InspirationWALL… see what I did there?
I learnt about the InspirationWALL when I completed my studies in Fine Art at University all those years ago. To this day, It is a technique that has never failed me. While I don’t have a current wall, it’s a fun little activity for yourself, to learn about where you are, and where you want to be.
The idea behind this, is that it isn’t an instant thing, it’s something that you build up and you work at. In this digital age I don’t see why you couldn’t start yourself a Pinterest account and do it that way.
The concept is simple: Collect images of works that inspire you. They don’t even have to directly relate to your chosen genre. Put them all together on a wall in your room or working space. As you find something you like, want to achieve or shoot in the future, print it out and stick it on the wall (or Pin it).
Browse Flickr Explore, 500px popular, or any google search on your chosen terms. Search for descriptive words, scenes, colours, people, portrait – anything! Browse magazines of all sorts and descriptions. Your inspiration wall will grow, you will realise there is something inside you that still desires to create.
I had images of girls floating in water because I liked the idea, dense, dark green forests because I've never shot in a real one before, I had images of my peers work, inspirational quotes and thoughts, pictures from countries I wanted to visit, the list is endless.
So when you’re stuck, you sit in front of your InspirationWALL and have some time alone with your thoughts. Ask yourself simple questions such as:
“What do I like about this image?”
“Why have I put it on my wall?”
“How can I incorporate these themes/ideas into my own practice?”
The answers will soon come, just be patient, and continue contributing to your wall…
2. Follow your Photo Heroes
This is a simple one. Study those who you want to be.
I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, maybe I’m one of your heroes (thank you).
What do they do with a shot?
Where do they go?
How do they process it?
How do they take it?
Time of day?
Critically analyse (to yourself) what you like about an image, and what you don’t.
3. Try new things
Simpler than it sounds. Maybe you’ve exhausted yourself in one genre.
In my case, I had begun to tire of my local surroundings, and having life conspire against me, I wasn’t able to go anywhere. So I set myself a project and began working towards it.
I had been doing a lot of sunrise, sunsets and not much inbetween. The colour palette of my works was all yellows, blues, reds, pinks, blacks, browns, oranges and purples.
But where was green?
I set myself a task for that year, to capture more “Greenscapes”. This forced me to consider where I might find images that are dominant-green in colour. And then it hit me. Rainforests. I had to find rainforests to add the missing part to my portfolios. I spent most of the year trying to get to Rainforests on overcast days (when shooting moving water is ideal to avoid harsh shadows). It was a gamble that paid off.
Those who simply cannot buy new gear in order to shake up their shooting have simply changed genres, portrait to macro, landscape to fashion. Challenge yourself to do what you can, with what you’ve got.
4. Re-process old work
Have a look through some work you’ve done in the past. I do it all the time, I find it very informative and relaxing.
Sometimes it's great to get a perspective of where you've been with your practice, so you can guage where you're going, and how you're going.
Can you remember back to the day that you shot this particular location/person/thing? What was happening? Take a moment to take yourself back to that shoot. Look at your images. Do you remember the eager pursuit of the final result? Do you remember feeling the passion, the mojo igniting your brain and sparking creative ideas?
Got a car? Good. Fill it up with fuel, map out a route, tell someone where you’re going, and just go.
Take your camera with you, take some food, snacks, a deck chair and just go.
Aim to shoot what you see. Don’t aim to create art, just shoot. Click that button. Study the land, sky, scene. Potentially more applicable to Landscapers, the idea still stands. Get out of the house, away from the computer. Put on some runners, take your camera, just get out.
Take a chair so you can soak up the countryside, sit comfortably and simply observe. Take a backseat on it all and watch. See something cool? Take a photo.
I hope I’ve managed to impart some kind of knowledge, thought process or perhaps you want to set up your own InspirationWALL.
I love nothing more than knowing I’ve given someone an idea, a spark to get them going with a shot or process. Have you got some mojo-lifters of your own to share? Then share! Comment below and lets help lift up those in a rut or lacking the wonderful MOJO.