We have homes to take care of and meals to cook, along with bath time, bills, bedtime, and tending to boo boos. We also have sessions to shoot, to edit, to blog, phone calls to make and emails to answer and … you know the list, it goes on and on. It’s no wonder the number one question asked in forums tends to be “How do I stay inspired?” The long list often leaves us in slumps of being tired, frustrated and uninspired with our work not only as photographers but as mothers as well.
Having gone through many of these slumps myself, and working hard to either avoid them or get out of them, I have compiled a list of the small and simple activities that kick me towards being a better photographer, better mother, and help me to be more inspired with my work and personal life. I hope you can find a few that will help you too!
1. Take a weekly date all by your lonesome
A “date” could mean lots of things; It could mean a trip to the museum, a 30 minute bubble bath with the door locked and music up, or a stroll downtown. The point is it to have no agenda, no plan, to just be in the moment and let your mind be open to the sounds, sights, and thoughts surrounding you.
2. Take a break from the blog and facebook stalking
I used to think I gained inspiration from looking at my friends and fellow photographers blogs and facebook pages. But then I realized while on a shoot that instead of pulling ideas from my own creativity, I found I was pulling from images I had seen, and all of those images were clogging my personal creativity. Not only that but since I have stopped checking out others photography blogs, I have found that I am far less hard on myself and have stopped comparing my work to anyone else’s. I know it’s a tough one but just try it, you will be amazed at what it does for your creativity and self esteem!
3. Keep a pen and paper with you at all times
You can’t force inspiration and it more than often comes in between the sessions and the editing. Write down your ideas and thoughts as they come to you. Don’t be critical, don’t hesitate, just write it down and let it sit. Come back to it a few days later and see where the idea since had taken you. You’ll be surprised to discover how often you really are inspired and how often you would just ignore it.
4. Set a schedule
My “office” is a corner in our living room amidst the toys and the tv. I found that instead of giving both my family and clients the individual attention they both deserved I too often was trying to do it all at once, leaving everyone involved frustrated and grumpy (mostly me). Since giving myself a very strict schedule as to when I work, I have freed my mind to focus completely on what I have to do, whether it is being mom at that moment or being photographer and business owner. This was incredibly hard for me to stick to but the most beneficial once I got it down.
5. Surround yourself with inspiring people
Almost two years ago I got a funny little facebook message from another local photographer asking to meet with me. We met for dinner and chatted about nothing specific, mostly photography and motherhood. Since then our dinner has turned into a monthly meeting with 6 other local photographers in the area. We have become dear friends and often turn to one another for inspiration, empathy, and help. Call some local photographers, friends, or business owners in your area and set up a monthly or bi-monthly meeting. Sit down and brainstorm together, vent, start projects, or set up an agenda of topics to discuss or activities to do. Having people to relate to and to bounce ideas off of is a great source of inspiration.
6. Spread out your interests
We love photography, that is why we are here, and it’s a wonderful thing to love but there is a whole world of other art and interests that can inspire and teach us. Take up a painting class, read more novels, become obsessed with old films. Spreading out your interests and becoming knowledgeable about other forms of art not only create other forms to pull inspiration from but it gives your brain a break from the monotony of one thing, allowing for creativity to better flow.
7. Organize and clean
This is my quick fix to getting out of a momentary slump. Isn’t it incredible how much better you feel when your room is clean and the bed is made? Take a few ours and clean up your office, then take 15 minutes to just sit among the organization and cleanliness and just feel good. When clutter exists in our homes and offices it exists in our minds. Clean up so you can stop thinking about how you have to clean up and start thinking about all of the great ideas you have that are aching to be executed.
8. Photograph what you love
Take out “this would be great to blog” or “I can’t wait to tweet this” or “when I get this into photoshop” and just shoot. Get out your camera and photograph your surroundings, your children, whatever you love. Let go and just shoot for you and for the love of shooting.
We all know it’s a long list we have to keep up with everyday and it can be tough! By implementing some of these ideas into your daily and weekly routines I hope you too can find more inspiration and meaning in not only your work, but even amidst folding laundry and wiping runny noses.
What’s on your list of “How to kick the slump?”
Thank you for all this awesome advice Sharon! I know that I will for sure implement these in the future! So tell us, how do you kick that slump?
Sharon Johnson, Washington
Photographer, Let The Kids contributer
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Sharon is a Seattle based photographer focusing her work on Birth, Child, and Family photography. She shoots exclusively with film and an old camera that is worth less than her phone. Her blog comprises of her recent work but mostly her daughter and their pleasant adventures. Her blog and her work, she says, is the conduit in which she shares her truest sense of the world with others. When she isn’t shooting you will find her writing articles and helping to maintain the blog Let the Kids, along with reading and marking up her favorite novel, concocting some strange meal in the kitchen, and playing hide and seek and giggling with her husband and baby girl.