How to Reinspire Your Photography

Hanoi, 2017 #cindyproject

Dear friend,

I want to give you some practical advice on how to re-inspire your photography; based on my life experiences:

1. Ask yourself ‘why’?

My mom at the site of her childhood home in Busan

To start off; why do we need ‘inspiration’ to make photos?

A kid never needs ‘inspiration’ to play with their toys. A kid never needs ‘inspiration’ to play on the playground. A kid never needs ‘inspiration’ before they draw on a piece of paper.

Sometimes looking at children can be the best motivator.

I know that when Amelia (Cindy’s niece) was just a few months old, she was curious about everything. I was super-inspired when I saw her fascinated with a leaf on a tree.

Which made me wonder— why do we become so jaded and un-inspired as adults?

I think perhaps the biggest problem is this:

We take ourselves too seriously

We are afraid of being like kids again. We want to be taken ‘seriously’ by other adults.

But if you take photos in the spirit of play; why should you ever lack inspiration?

2. Follow your gut

Seoul, 2017 #cindyproject

I used to think that I needed to take photos everyday. But when I ‘forced’ myself to shoot everyday, it started to feel like a chore; like a job.

I hated it when I was a kid and my mom would always nag at me to do my homework. I began to despise doing homework.

Imagine if your mom always nagged you to go out and take photos. Would you stay inspired or motivated to do so?

You want to put no pressure on yourself and your photography.

By having no pressure in your photography, you are more likely to creatively flourish.

Look at nature. Nobody forces the sun to rise. Nobody forces a river to flow water. Nobody forces the spider to spin its webs. Nobody forces the dog to wag its tail.

You want to have fun in your photography. Because once you take your photography too seriously, and put too much pressure on yourself, you won’t be able to stay inspired or motivated.

3. Go hungry

Hue, 2017 #cindyproject

This is actually a bit random; but I feel one of the best ways to motivate or inspire us to do anything is through hunger. Literal physical hunger, or mental hunger.

For example, I always exercise better or write better when I’m hungry; in a fasted-state. I try my best to always wake up, have a cup of coffee, and get straight to reading or writing. Because I am physically hungry, I work harder to ‘earn’ my meal.

The same is in photography. When I’m hungry and I shoot, I am more focused. It is like I am hunting for my meal; except I am hunting for photo opportunities.

I also find that I am most inspired when I am hungry for inspiration, for art, for outside resources. For example, when I started the ‘Learn From the Masters’ series — I was mentally starved in terms of practical photography advice. Therefore I scratched my own itch, and started to learn to satisfy my hunger.

Where are you mentally starved? Are you starved creatively? Then photography should feed your hunger.

4. Let yourself get bored

Hue, 2017

I also feel that boredom is a good motivator to our photography.

The biggest tip I can give most photographers for inspiration is this: turn off your smartphone.

We are constantly stimulated by our smartphones (myself included). But I think it is boredom which stimulates creativity.

For example, when I am out in public, waiting for a bus, or going somewhere (and I’m distracted by my smartphone), I don’t notice my environment around me. But when I turn off my phone, and let myself get bored— I see all these photo opportunities, because I look around more.

If you shoot on your smartphone, then just keep your phone in airplane mode, or just turn off the data on your phone.

Embrace boredom as a way for you to inspire your photography.

5. Force yourself not to take photos

Downtown LA, 2015

I also have found a good counter-intuitive way of re-inspiring your photography is this:

Force yourself not to take photos

For example, take your camera, and lock it up in a drawer for a week. Tell yourself:

“This week, I’m not allowed to take any photos.”

I can guarantee you that by the end of the week, you will be hungry to take photos. You will feel frustrated not being able to take any photos.

Then you will be more grateful for your ability to photograph, and you will probably be re-inspired in your photography.

6. Imagine losing your vision

eric kim photography sapa
Sapa, 2017

You have a beautiful gift as a photographer— the gift of vision. Never take it for granted. Because who knows, what if one day, you lost your vision?

If you were going to lose your vision one day, what would you photograph today?

7. Trust your inner-genius

Sapa, 2017 #cindyproject

Inspiration comes from within you. Each photographer has his or her inner-genius. This inner-genius comes from our life experiences, from our artistic tastes, and our perspective.

Your vision is unique. Never let your curiosity die as a photographer, by always being grateful for having your vision, and having the ability to make images. Never doubt yourself; follow your own inner-voice.


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