I am blessed to be an educator for many reasons, not the least of which are the amazing conversations I have had with my students over the last 20 years. Recently, one student told me that they were struggling because they didn’t feel inspired to go out and shoot. To phrase it exactly like the student did:
“I have been waiting and waiting for inspiration to strike.”
This immediately reminded me of two quotes. The first is from Chuck Close and the second is from Pablo Picasso:
“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
There is a lot of truth in these quotes. Indeed, it is a commonly taught concept in psychology that motivation does not come first, action does. What does this mean? It is the belief that action will lead to a sense of accomplishment and through that sense of accomplishment motivation will follow.
Hopefully the tie in here to photography is obvious: Sometimes there are times when the logistics of photography act as a barrier to going out and shooting. We have chores to do, emails to respond to, income tax that hasn’t been filed, kids to take to dance classes, etc. Just the thought of organizing our gear and driving an hour to get somewhere to shoot can seem overwhelming…. even more so when we don’t feel “inspired”.
The thing is though, once you are out in the field shooting you almost always remember why you love it, why you do it and why there is nothing better than holding a camera in your hand. It’s a little like going to the gym: you may hate doing it, but you always feel better after (until the next day, anyway).
I honestly believe Zack Arias summed up the best course of action when he said:
“Get off your ass!”
I can say with absolutely certainty that once I push through that initial inertia and find myself on the streets exploring, wandering and shooting, I remember exactly why I love this art form so much.
Here are twenty new Fuji X100F street images taken in either Vancouver or Seattle, all captured because I prioritized action first and went out with my camera. The colour images are in Fuji’s Classic Chrome film simulation, while the black and white ones use the Acros film simulation.
So, I encouraged my student to push through that inertia we all experience from time to time, to grab his camera and to go out and shoot. I never regret it when I do!
Until next time,