How To Keep Your Photography Alive This Year

When I look back over past 35hunter posts from months ago, even a year or two back, I’m always shocked at how many comments are from people who used to also have photography blogs, but haven’t kept them going – either regularly, or at all.

“I wonder what happened to [insert name here]’s photography, I haven’t seen them share anything new in ages…”

The most common reason that fellow photographers’ blogs seem to dry up, doesn’t seem to be to do with the blogging aspect at all, but simply because their photography has also dried up, so they feel they have nothing new to share.

Which is especially sad when it’s someone who, when they do photograph regularly, seems to gain such pleasure from it. Much like me, and most probably like you too.

So I thought about some simple tips for helping to keep your photography alive this year that have worked for me in recent times – whether you then blog about it or not.

1. Make time.

This sounds obvious of course, but the crucial word here is “make”.

What we make time from on a regular basis is ultimately how we spend our lives.

If we’re always saying “I haven’t had time”, whether it’s for photography, blogging, family, or anything else, it’s simply down to what we prioritise, what we say yes to, which means we then default to saying no to other important parts of our life.

Making regular time for photography is the starting point for making photos.

If you never carve out that time in your schedule, it’ll never happen.

It’s highly unlikely someone will swoop down from the sky and say “today I’m going to take care of everything else for you, so you can just go and spend the whole day with your camera”.

Instead we have to take charge ourselves and make that time, plan and stick to those photo walks, make them as fundamental a part of our days and weeks and lives as eating, sleeping and breathing.

What else do you do regularly that has less meaning for you than photography? How are you going to re-prioritise some of that time for photography instead?

2. Slim down your gear.

Last year a major project for me was One Month, One Camera, which involved, well using just one camera for a month at a time.

I liked it so much for the months I tried it (six out of the 12) that this year I’m planning to do it every month.

Using just one camera means not deliberating over gear each time you’re about to head out.

Using just one camera means you become so much more familiar with how to use it, and you don’t spend half of the photo walk trying to remember and re-familiarise yourself with a camera you’ve only made a dozen photos with in two years. Every time you go out.

Using just one camera means you get to know its unique strengths and then quietly and confidently find the compositions that fit these best.

Rather than feeling like a tourist with an insane zoom camera with 37 auto scene modes, snapping anything and everything at every focal length and setting, then trying to make sense of the thousand photographs you made that hour later on, and not being happy with any of them.

Slimming down your existing gear usually means you stop looking for more gear too – you step out of that addictive consumption habit where buying one camera leads to another, and another – before you’ve even used the previous six you bought.

Which in turn saves you time and money that can be redirected back into more useful options like photographing more often, and investing in photography books.

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3. Photograph what you love to photograph.

Again this might sound obvious, but with so much online influence around us these days, it’s all too easy to get caught in a pattern of photographing what you think will get you most likes/favourites/followers etc.

Perhaps sometimes this creeps up on us even without us realising.

The sting of disappointment you felt after posting new photos you hoped would be loved but were largely ignored, can temporarily be soothed by the ego hit of a few likes or faves on other photos you rattled off without thinking and find positively mediocre in comparison.

Don’t get sucked in though.

Reject all of that superficial attention seeking and instead hunt for the type of compositions (and the type of photography) that brings a big smile to your face and joy to your bones.

You’ll be so much happier with your work in the long term.

Hopefully these three tips will help your photography thrive this year.

Please let us know which resonate most, and feel free to share any of your own tips with us too (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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21 thoughts on “How To Keep Your Photography Alive This Year”

  1. Doing more photography is also one and the main new year resolution for this year. Stop saying that I don’t have time and actualy take the time to do it. In 2019 I felt in that « get more used camera, it’s so cheap » trap.. resulting in a bunch of cameras that I did not event take the time to try them.. resulting in only a few photowalk for the entire year, when I would had been able to do double or even triple that..
    Your post is right on time, and I see it like a direct message to myself to go out and enjoy shooting photos as much as I can

    1. Luc, thanks for your comments. Yes, I completely agree that saying you don’t have time makes you feel powerless and out of control. We need to take it back and make time for the things we love, adjust our priorities.

      I completely relate about cheap cameras too, they’re too cheap NOT to buy them. The only approach that works for me is avoiding eBay completely. As soon as I go on there I know I’ll find half a dozen interesting old cameras for less than £5 each!

      Best of luck in the coming weeks with your photography.

  2. I also have vowed to get out regularly with my camera this year. My plan is to clear Saturday mornings and just head out. I can understand people having “dry spells”, some very accomplished photographers I have known have experienced that for years. I have noticed that even doing something simple like lens tests will get me going a little bit. Thanks for the tips Dan.

    1. I have two photo mornings a week. I don’t go that long. Usually less than an hour. But it enough to keep the flow going. Then I post images. Never more than five. I always seem to have a nice backlog of scheduled posts.

      1. I think “enough to keep the flow going” is what is crucial for any habit. Not so much that it becomes a chore (too much of anything can become like this), but enough – and often enough – to make it worthwhile and keep that flow going.

        It’s great to hear you’ve found a good balance. I recall you started out with your blog wanting to shoot and post every day (hence the blog title) and it became too much to keep up with (as it would be for me too!).

    2. I think even if we feel less inspired sometimes (which is inevitable for anyone with any kind of creative pursuit), if we keep going out to try, we will work through it and find a purple patch again. Having a particular day (or days) that we commit to the work is a simple and very effective approach. Best of luck to you.

  3. Want to learn more about exposure this year. Most of my cameras are auto or semi auto but some are old manual film cameras. Want to say this shot should be ‘xyz’ and then see if metered camera or a light meter agrees.
    Do you have iPhone or Android lightmeter apps you feel are most accurate and useful? Or a good lightmeter

    1. Thanks for you input Mark. What will that give you, when you’re able to estimate exposure? Just wondering hat your motives are for wanting to learn how to expose without a meter?

      I experimented with Sunny 16 for a while (though I used Sunny 11 in the more cloudy UK!) and got decent results.

      With consumer colour negative film like AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 (rebranded Fuji C200) or Kodak ColorPlus 200, there’s +3 exposure latitude so I always leaned towards overexposing and the film allowed for that.

      When I wanted b/w film I shot colour neg and desaturated or processed.

      I also used a light meter on my iPhone a few years back called Pocket Light Meter, which worked well. I’m sure there’s an Android equivalent.

      All that said, and whilst it’s rewarding shooting Sunny 16 with a mechanical camera and being complete free of electronics and battery power, these days I’d rather just use a camera with its own decent exposure system.

      As I said with colour neg film there’s wide exposure latitude anyway (usually -1/+3) to forgive any mistakes, especially when you lean towards over exposure.

      The extra effort of either using fiddling about with a phone light meter (another device to handle) or calculating in your head wasn’t really worth it for me, and distracted from the simplicity of having a camera that exposes well so you can just concentrate on composition and focus.

      What type of film do you usually shoot?

  4. Great post at the turn of the year Dan! It applies very much to my photography, I’m afraid.

    Point 1: A good challenge. Yep, life is busy but you can always make time for the things that you want to do. My work life has been hectic but I manage to watch enough crap on Netflix.

    Point 2: I only really have two cameras now and shoot one of those (my Lumix LX5) 90% of the time, set at the same focal length (28mm). It does make things a whole lot simpler!

    Point 3: I’ve been looking back through my photos, as I do every year by way of a review. There are some definite themes emerging so I’ll be focusing (no pun intended) on those next year.

    Still not sure whether to keep Flickr up to date as the main repository of my best ones, or to put them on a separate pictures blog.

    Cheers

    Richard

    1. Thanks Richard. I really enjoy your interaction here, but being blunt when you do comment I usual think “where did Richard disappear to again, good to have him back”!

      Excellent point about Netflix, most of us have similar activities that could be reduced or removed to make more time for photography related activity.

      Is the default min focal length of the LX5 28mm? My LX3 is 24, so I assumed the LX5 was the same. If so do you use the Resume Zoom feature? I do this with my LX3, but shoot at 35mm.

      It’s really useful to look back over a longer period of our work and see what themes emerge. They always do, even if at the time it can feel like we’re shooting more haphazardly.

      With Flickr, why not use that as the first place to save your best photos, then it’s very easy to show them in blog posts from there. You can’t do it the other way, at least not easily, you’d still have to upload separately to Flickr.

  5. Dan, am restarting photography including film (from P&S many years ago). Agree with your blog journey and may finally settle with a decent used compact digital but in the meantime want some film using an old unmetered camera I may run across.
    Wanting to add some different thinking and seeing to daily walks. As for film, whatever is available and cheap. Am in very rural US so online purchase all that is available.
    Sunny 11 maybe appropriate to learn for our area. Will look for your posts on that.
    Thanks

  6. Ha! I must be feeling guilty as I feel this post could be aimed at me! I see I haven’t even logged in to my Bear WordPress account for two months. I think I’ve written about my coming and going of photographic enthusiasm myself butI never beat myself up about how long it is between posts these days. Sometimes it’s months between posts, sometimes post a few times a month. Crucial thing to me is to feel I want to take the photos, not feel I have to for some arbitrary schedule or habit.

    1. Bear, no it certainly wasn’t aimed at you specifically, or anyone else. Just disappointing to see photographers and (photo bloggers) go quiet when one enjoys their work.

      I agree that we shouldn’t make photos just for the sake of having something new to post.

      1. Well I’ve logged in and posted a new one today and perhaps explained some of the other reasons for an apparent lack of enthusiasm that there can be! (And no, I didn’t really think you were aiming at me specifically either.)

      2. I was thinking about your blogs and why one (of the two I’m aware of) is quite prolific, usually with multiple posts per week, but Bear’s Photos is less active.

        I assume because for the photo blog you feel you need new photos, and the other is purely text based and it’s easier to write in small chunks than go out and photograph in small chunks.

        A secret(ish) about my blog – whilst I do photograph pretty regularly anyway, I often rely on my 10 year plus archive of photographs for new posts on 35hunter. You don’t always have to post a brand new photo, especially as newer readers won’t likely have seen the older ones anyway.

      3. Yes, I’m aware that I could dive into the archives but I don’t know, just feels regressive going back too far.

        I also just have a thing about not reliving the past, especially as some of it wasn’t too great.
        I don’t mind delving a year or so into it to see if there was anything I missed or look at differently now but I’ve never been that prolific that there’s many thousands of megabytes of files to look back on anyway.

        And you’re correct, the writing can be done to a relatively little-and-often schedule that I don’t have to go out for when that’s hard to do but still keeps me creative in another way.

      4. Yes, keeping the pump primed in different creative ways all feeds into the same overall sense of feeling you’re evolving, and creating, I think.

        Looking back at a significant chunk of my (private) archive on Flickr, I do wonder why I bothered to save and share them at the time. But there are still a good amount that I am as proud of today as when I made them. I’m sure you’d find the same with your photos. : )

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