Get Outta That Funk!

Beating the Winter Blues / Blog by Dan Domme


Flash Test / Self


Yes, even fearless FPP leader Michael Raso gets the Winter funk! Read on!

Have you ever gotten yourself into a funk?  No, I'm not talking about listening to Bootsy Collins.  I'm talking about losing inspiration for your photography.  There can be times when you just don't feel like taking photographs or can't find things that are "worthy" of being photographed.  I recently experienced such a funk, and I asked our FPP Flickr group about it.  Thanks to them (and some of my own new ideas) I'm on my way out of it.  Hopefully, I can give you some tips that will prevent you from getting into a funk yourself, or to pull you out of one if you suddenly find yourself uninspired.

1. Mix up your equipment.  The great thing about being a film photographer is that the cameras are (relatively speaking) cheap.  Assuming you have more than one camera, just put down your favorite and dust off another camera you've been neglecting.  You can even change formats.  Polaroids, 35mm, 120, large format... whatever you normally work with, ditch it for a while and try something new.  Had your eye on a new camera or a new piece of equipment?  Now's the time to treat yourself.  And it doesn't have to be a new camera, either!  For example, fellow FPPer Arthur Smith switched things up by simply trying out a red filter for his black and white work.

2. Travel somewhere.  You don't need to fly halfway around the world, only a town or two down the road to get fresh material for your photographic eye.  And don't just walk down Main Street.  Take some side streets and keep an eye out for anything and everything that would make a good photograph.  And who says you have to take the highway to get there?  Just take the "back roads" and you're sure to find something that would make a great photograph.

"Calder Way" by Dan Domme

3. Who says you need to shoot new photos?  Try putting the camera down and work on printing some of your black and white photos.  No darkroom?  You can practice perfecting scanning techniques.  No scanner?  You can review your old shots on your hard drive or light table.  You might be able to finally get your library in order, and who knows—you could even get inspired along the way.  You can also rediscover some of your best work.  Do yourself a favor and get those gems printed professionally or even turn them into a quality photo book to show off.

4. Try a new genre.  Do you do street photography?  Why not try your hand at portraits?  If you normally do portraits, why not try some landscapes or nature photography?  If you shoot nature, why not try some abstract photography or light painting?  Whatever it is, a new, unfamiliar genre will give you a new set of challenges.  Practice on overcoming those challenges and you might find your "normal" work improving by the things you learn!

"Weihnachten 2011 //Frankfurt
" by Malte Grimm 

5. Start a project.  A popular project is a "365" project, or simply a photograph a day for a year.  (Be aware, though, that 2012 will be a "366" project thanks to the leap year!)  FPP listener Nate Matos took this idea a step further and only made images on The Impossible Project's instant film, and even recapped the year with an amazing video (below)!  I did my Photo 365 project in 2010 and turned the resulting photos into a series of books.  Another popular project is "100 Strangers," currently being performed by FPP listener Bunny Safari.  You ask strangers if you can take their portrait until you get 100 "yes" results.  Or, you can pick a seemingly random subject and find a way to photograph the heck out of it.  For example, I'm seriously thinking of putting together a project based on "No Parking" signs.  (No kidding.)  Whatever you choose, make sure it's both fun and challenging!

I hope I (and the rest of the FPP community by extension) have given you some ideas for the next time you get into a funk.  Or you could always play slap bass and listen to some Parliament Funkadelic!

Dan Domme is a film photography enthusiast and PhD student in the Acoustics department of Penn State University. He's been a serious photographer for the last two years, and now shoots nearly exclusively on film.

Also - Beat The Winter Blues 2014


Luc Moreau's picture
Hi Dan, Nice post. We're still in the first week of the new year and before I read it I was considering doing one of these 52 weeks/366 days projects or something. More precisely I think I'll try "52 rolls of film through 52 rangefinder cameras in 52 weeks". How does that look like ? Challenging enough I'm hoping ?
alex luyckx's picture

52 roll projects are fun, I did one through 2011, took me until about week8 to catch the groove, but I managed to plow through.

Luc Moreau's picture
I just published my week 8/52 so I guess I'm outta that funk by now! Thanks guys!
Nate Matos's picture
Thanks for including the video Dan! I'm actually in the midst of working on a 100 strangers project using my Polaroid Macro 5 as well! They are a lot of fun and really push you from your boundaries.
Dan Domme's picture

Nate, you lucky dog.  I've wanted a Macro 5 for a while.  Oh well, I can hold off for now... I don't even have any Spectra film on hand!

jimagesdigital's picture
Dan, terrific job! Your thoughts on a new genre and a project are excellent, and I enjoyed this piece very much. Something as basic as a red filter to get us going- solid tip! BTW, everyone should see Alex's 52 week project also, think its on Flickr - solid work.
Ian Muttoo's picture
Excellent article Dan! Well done.
Kim's picture
I am primarily a digital photographer but these are all excellent tips! I may even switch over to film for a bit just to experiment and try something different. An upcoming roadtrip will also spur the creativity and leave me with a few hundred photos to sift through and process for at least a month or even up to three or more.
Emily Savill's picture

I started my "52 weeks of film" project to help get me out of the funk I've been in for a while from being bogged down with school and homework and working two jobs.  It's been nice to make myself take photos.  It's definitely helping to ease the stress away.

malte's picture
Hi Dan, inspiring post! I don´t have any projects running this year, but i want to make more conceptionel photos, not only walking around and taking pictures. I want to go out with pictures in my mind and try to realise them. And the most important at all: Thank you for including my christmas(Weihnachten) Picture!
Ralph Hightower's picture
I have two photo projects for 2012: 1) Photograph the sunrise on the equinoxes and solstices of Columbia, SC, US from the Lake Murray Dam. I got the idea for this project when I photographed the sunrise on January 1, 2012. 2) Photograph the full moons. I started in February, so I'll have to continue the project into 2013. I don't consider my New Years Resolution a project, but I am shooting exclusively using B&W film. Mostly I use Kodak BW400CN, but I have used Kodak Plus-X and Tri-X 400.

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