Motivation (or lack of)

Tree Trunk

Most artist will tell you that their ability to inspire themselves was the key to their success. Well I have plenty of inspiration but I’m lacking in “motivation”, which is preventing me from moving forward with those inspirations. I’ve little motivation lately. I hardly take the camera out for walks and when I do it’s for short walks. I could blame the cold but that will not suffice. Just not motivated.

Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge. They say there are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation is something gets us started. Persistence is the continued effort required. Intensity is staying focused through its completion.

Motivation can be activated in several ways. It can be caused by the influence of others, such as a shooting session with another photographer. Making a list of projects. Searching for new places for images. Shoot a different venue such as portraits rather than macros, or macro rather than portraits. Work on storytelling. Being invited to try a project such as Earl’s calendar. Or working new software for creating books such as Paul.

Something had to be done to get me moving. So, I decided to take a cold walk without my camera. I bundled up against he cold and took the treacherous walk as the melted snow was now turning to black ice. Without my camera I was seeing a lot of potential images. There was a lone Canadian goose just sitting on the ice, no other birds around him. It was so out of the ordinary I suspect the bird may be ill or wounded. The next thing to catch my attention were the cattails along the edge of the lake. The stalks are standing tall while in stark contrast their snow laden flat bladed leaves bend heavily downward. And then there were the rabbit tracks in the snow. They were telling of scampering feet looking for cover. Between the edge of the lake and sidewalk I discovered feathers that told of the demise of a bird. I wondered if death came from the powerful claws of a hawk or owl. This exercise was new to me, and it seemed to do the trick. What steps do you take for motivation?

15 Comments

  1. Paul February 22, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Motivation is a fickle partner, I think. One thing’s for sure, I don’t push it. The muse shows up on its own. Sometimes, inertia is hard to beat. That is, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. :) Sometimes, I have to just go out and shoot, play, or look at the work of someone else. Other times, the motivation is just there, like it is now for the books. I just feel like I want to do a whole bunch of them. I know, too, that this motivation may pass soon; hopefully, I can ride it for the remaining 5 books. LOL

    So, overall, I guess that I say that I just ride the waves as they come. I’m really interested in portraiture now, and am making moves to photograph some of my friends from The Peaceful Dragon. Also, I’m feeling the tickle in the back of my mind for more macro photography.

    • Monte Stevens February 22, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      I think it is neat you are enjoying your photography so much lately. Since I’ve only known you for the past 2-3 years I have no way of knowing what you like back then. All your personal changes lately has had a major effect on where your photography is. Your attitude with your health has probably as much influence as anything. I think 5 books is an awesome goal and hope the tickle keeps you busy. :-)

    • Monte Stevens February 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      I downloaded MyPublisher software and played around with it. Looks like something I would enjoy doing myself.

  2. Earl February 22, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    I’d agree with Paul about not pushing it.

    Sometimes the best thing you can do to regain your motivation is simply to put the camera down and not do it for a while. When the time’s right, for me usually just a couple of days, the “itch” comes back.

    These periods really bothered me at one time but I view them differently now. Perhaps like breathing, there’s an inhale and an exhale…one without the other doesn’t work.

    I don’t believe anyone’s “always” motivated…not if they’re being honest.
    Earl recently posted..Renovate it – they will comeMy Profile

    • Monte Stevens February 22, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      I’ve just been a funk with my photography lately. I’ve gone through these before and always come out okay. I may be expecting too much rather than just letting the waves rise and fall. I have these ideas and desires for projects but having a difficult time moving forward with them.

      • Earl February 22, 2012 at 11:32 am #

        Monte, your a good photographer who loves the craft. You’ve also had a lots of change in your life recently with moves, future job changes, etc. Those things affect a person and you can’t separate the photographer from the person. It will happen…
        Earl recently posted..Then and nowMy Profile

        • Monte Stevens February 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

          I had not even thought about all the changes over that past year and those coming up. There are some decisions to be made and of course money is on my mind. Thank you for the positive affirmation!

  3. Paul February 22, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Nice. Now I can subscribe to comments! Thanks, Monte! You’ll come out of this just fine. No need to force it, my friend. Just ride it for what it’s worth, and as Earl said, you might just put the camera down for a few days.
    Paul recently posted..Selling the M9My Profile

    • Monte Stevens February 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      I always thought people were getting followup comments. Well, now they will have the opportunity. That is one of the finer things I enjoy about reading blogs: What are others saying?

  4. Ken Bello February 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I think every creative person is subject to blocks and it’s not necessarily a sign of burnout. Taking a break from your craft is like taking a much needed vacation. It gives the mind a change of scenery, but you need the right attitude for it. Embrace the “lack of motivation”. It will return when it’s ready.

    • Monte Stevens February 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      I being a bit hard on myself right now and there’s really no reason. I think I needed to write how I’m feeling and get all your feedback. I understand most of what everyone has said but as each of use different words it all helps. Thanks, Ken!

  5. Tom Dills February 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    In a couple of weeks, Paul & I will be attending a workshop with Les Saucier, a noted North Carolina photographer known for his macro work, but also for his teaching of the creative process. Les teaches that the first thing we need to do is “show up,” and as he says, to be “open to the gifts.” The gifts are there, we just need to be ready.

    I think that far too often we don’t give ourselves “permission” to be creative. We get caught up in our distractions and feel like we’re too busy, like we don’t have time. But it’s those times we probably need to “show up” more than we realize.

    Your idea of getting out without a camera is a good one, although I can’t help but wonder what you might have done with some of those scenes had you had your camera. On the other hand, if not being distracted by the camera allows you to really look, maybe it will help you see more when you do have your camera.

    Good stuff, and a lovely photo to go with it!
    Tom Dills recently posted..A Little R&RMy Profile

    • Monte Stevens February 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      Sounds like a good workshop and hope you guys enjoy it.

      I usually always have a camera with me as an extension of my arm. Not taking it was a good experience in that I realize I’m always looking, checking the light and composing.

      I hope you find a way to get a few shots of those regulars as it sounds like there are some great images there. And, I do relate to your apprehension. Have fun with it!

  6. David Leland Hyde February 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Interesting post about motivation and discussion to follow. I have been keeping photography as a hobby for now, though I am making archival prints now and doing more to develop my own work. I have been photographing roughly since age 10, around 1975, but have probably gone whole decades without touching a camera. As a hobby my own work is just a fun outlet that I do on the side of publicizing and representing Dad’s photography. Also, I don’t beat myself up when I don’t do it. This year I unfortunately left my camera in California for nearly four months while I was in Colorado. I did it because I felt it was taking over too much of my time and I didn’t want to divide my energies into yet another direction, as I am already going in too many. I left quite a few other important things here in California too, like my girlfriend, who I only saw twice during those four months. So I figured leaving behind the camera would not be too great a loss. Wow, was I wrong. It was truly tragic and missed greatly, but it made me see how much photography has now grown to be a part of my life. It also caused me to decide that when I came back I would go after it with a whole new zest and seriousness. It worked. I feel I progressed more this year than ever expected, considering the photographic year was only eight months long. Taking a break can be painful, but very healing. The big fear is that you will never go back, and you might not, but if you do, it is that much better, sort of like returning to a long-missed girlfriend, who you deeply regretted leaving because of the damage to your relationship that being apart did. Yet you become so much closer than ever when you are back together.
    David Leland Hyde recently posted..New Release: Glacier Peak From Above Image LakeMy Profile

    • Monte Stevens February 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      I’ve left my camera a few times for different reasons and almost always seem to regret that decision. Now with the camera ability of our smart phones that is going to happen less often. One reason I use the DX format is the smaller size is less to carry and at my age that’s important. I think it is good that you are printing your own images. That is something I have not done in 4 or 5 years and needs to change. There was a time I printed my own images, which I enjoyed doing, but that also is time consuming. Thanks, David.

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