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.
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!
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 - https://filmphotographyproject.com/content/features/2014/02/beat-winter-blues-revisit-your-photography