Can you believe it? 2009 is over! Where does the time go? Are you satisfied with your photography this year? Do you have photographic plans for 2010?
Lightroom is an excellent program but it still needs you to feed it images. If you find yourself in a creative slump or the shooting doldrums don't despair! Leave all that in 2009 and look to the new year with fresh eyes!
Here are ten suggestions to help you rekindle that passion for photography! You may have seen some (or all) of these elsewhere but it never hurts to see them again.
1. Give yourself an assignment
Don't just wander around aimlessly wondering "what will I shoot?" Make use of your time with an assignment. Go out and shoot BLUE things. Or restrict yourself to TRIANGLES. Not a street shooter? Go downtown and do some urban hunting. Giving yourself an assignment can force you to take a new look at things and places you might see every day.
2. Zoom with your feet
Many a great shot is the result of a small change in perspective. A slightly different angle can open up a world or possibilities. So if you usually work with a zoom lens switch it for a prime. Don't have a prime lens? No problem. Pick a focal length on your zoom and get a piece of gaffer's tape (or other mild tape that won't leave a residue) and tape your zoom lens at that focal length. Now if you want to get closer you'll actually have to use your feet. That will change your perspective and may open up some new opportunities.
3. Play with light
Learn to play with light this year. If you don't usually set up lighting for a subject give it a try. You don't have to go out an buy expensive studio lights. Go outdoors. Use a reflector (or anything with a reflective surface). Filter light through shower curtains or bedsheets. Try this indoors with lighting at hand or some inexpensive work lights. See how it changes the shadows an highlights of the subject. Learn how it gets soft or harsh. Just play with light and see what you come up with!
4. Play with light -- QUICKLY
As a corollary to suggestion #3, learn to work with flash. Get your speedlight off your camera. Try filtering the flash. Learn how to use fill flash for backlit subjects. Learn how your ETTL or ITTL flash systems work. Lucky enough to have multiple speedlights? Try multi-light setups. Learn to drag the shutter to capture some ambient light in addition to the flash. In short, overcome your uncomfortableness with flash.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Are you a portrait shooter? Get out there at 0-dark-30 and shoot a sunrise. Like to do macro shots of flowers and insects? Go get your friend to sit for a portrait session. Give HDR a try. Walk up to strangers on the street and ask if you can take their picture. Try doing some product shooting. Grab a bottle of wine or a jar of mayonnaise and stage it. Whatever type of photography you are comfortable with -- forget that once in a while -- and try something new.
6. Tell a story
Give yourself a project that you cannot complete in one or two shoots. Try telling a story. For example, find an interesting location and document it every month. Over the course of a year that location will change as the seasons change. Things may disappear or appear since your last visit. This time next year put your best shots together to tell the 2010 story of that location. Or, try documenting the life of a town, diner, church, club, family, whatever. Tell the story in images. There's a whole new level of creativity waiting for you there!
7. Try out some new gear
Yes, I know. Gear doesn't make the image, the photographer does. But still. Did you think I could get through this list without at least mentioning new gear once? C'mon! And this doesn't have to land you in the poor house. Are you a Canon shooter? Borrow a friends Nikon for a day. Never shot with a 70-200mm lens? Borrow one from a friend or rent one for a week. Do you always head out with your DSLR? Try using that little point-and-shoot for a change. New gear doesn't have to be new -- just new to you.
8. Lock yourself in a room
Perhaps your family or friends have given you this advice. It might be for a different reason! LOL Seriously, spend 30 minutes in one room. It could be the kitchen or the bathroom. Take at least 100 shots in those 30 minutes. Look for interesting things. Intriguing angles. Great lighting. Rearrange items. Whatever it takes to get your 100 shots. The first 30 or 40 may come quickly. The rest will force you to look at things differently. So go ahead. Lock yourself in a room. But don't forget your camera!
Seek out a local camera club. Look for photowalks (keep an eye on NAPP, they sponsor one every year). Put some images on the web. You could join a Flickr group and get comments on your work (and give them to others as well). Introduce photography to a friend or relative who has an interest. Sharing your passion for photography reminds you of what led you down this path.
10. Enjoy yourself
Rule 5 applies as much to photography as it does to Lightroom. Enjoy! If photography is becoming a chore, walk away from the camera for a while. Watch a movie. Read a good book. Socialize. Then come back to your camera refreshed and ready to enjoy yourself. Your curiosity and love of photography put that camera in your hand originally. Remember that. Rekindle that passion. Enjoy yourself!I wish you all a happy, healthy, and CREATIVE new year!