How to keep yourself motivated and take better photos?

As I'm looking back to my ten-year journey in photography, I realize that I have had my ups and downs. The thing that I have found out to be one of the keys to my success and for the other photographers I spend time with is perseverance. It's not a surprising thing, but how many of us overlook it? I certainly did. Why? Is it because we don't want to admit that it takes a long time to create beautiful work? 

It's much easier to focus on things that don't matter. Or it might be because someone else is developing stunning work, they must have it in their genes? Why do we do this? It's paralyzing! 

As I was creating the Day to Night video course, I realized that I could not focus on many things at the same time. It led me to focus only on the course, which then lowered my ability to go out and photograph. And I haven't been active on social media either. Looking back over the last two months I have barely gone out to shoot which has dropped my confidence in creating beautiful work. If you didn't know by now, I'm not perfect. 

I haven't seen many posts about motivation when it comes to photography, so I decided to write one. I'm sure all of us sometimes lack the motivation to take photos, but I think it all depends how fast you can bounce out of it.

For me, it's sometimes hard to find balance. I love to share my knowledge with people, but if I "can't" go out to photograph I feel uninspired. I think we all have these assumptions of how we are and that we cannot do anything about it. In fact, I think that those are just scripts that run in the back of our mind to keep us taking action needed to break out from the jam we are.

So what are the steps we can take to break out of these excuses and keep us motivated to create beautiful photographs?

1. PLAN

Make a plan that is easy to follow through. I use an "easy-motivation-planner" I have created when I'm planning my week. I don't plan all of my weeks like in the below example. Instead, I use it if I haven't been photographing lately or find it hard to go out and take photographs. The planner has a day, time, place, goal and ideas sections.

A preview of how the planner looks like.

Here is a breakdown of the planner:

  • The Day, of course, is the day you want to go out and photograph in a specific location.
  • Time is when you need to head out from your home, so calculate enough time before the sunrise, sunset or any time you want to visit a location.
  • The Place is a specific location you want to visit that time. If you don't have a place in mind, use Google maps as a location scouter.
  • The Goal is what it is that you want to capture, is it perhaps seascape or landscape or anything you wish to achieve from the location.
  • Ideas are from your idea archive. Put at least one idea for the shoot in this section.  Don't know how to create ideas that are unique? Check out my video course

Download a copy of my easy-motivation-planner here.

 

2. Make it Impossible to fail

I bet there have been times when you have woken up but felt that you need to keep on sleeping instead of heading out to photograph. I know I have. Or you have been busy doing something else and forgot to go out and capture the sunset. We all have many excuses not to go out and photograph...

One of the best things you can do is prepare for it. Take the excuses away!

  • Charge your camera & gear beforehand
  • Pack your gear into your backpack and keep it ready
  • Make sure you have enough gas in your car if you wish to travel with it

When you want to capture the sunrise

  • Keep your clothes prepared near your bed
  • Make it easy to take a coffee or tea with you or grab one on the go
  • Cook your breakfast the day before 

You can add any steps you think makes it easier to go out. If you have gone through all of these, I bet you would feel stupid not to go! 

 

3. TAKE ACTION NO MATTER WHAT

It sounds counter-intuitive but if you doubt yourself the only way to break out of that doubt is to take action. Go out and take photographs, no matter what. When you make a plan, you can always say to yourself that this is what you promised yourself when you were thinking about the best interest of your photography. So listen to your past-self and take action. Action-cycle is where you want to end up!

 

4. GO OUT WITH OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS 

Chat with a fellow photographer and plan a trip, whatever it takes for you to start taking action and going out to photograph. If you make yourself accountable to other photographers, you will make progress. "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Yeah, it's a cliche already, but having people around that increases your positivity is crucial! Having like-minded people who want to create work that stands-out makes you feel inspired.

 

5. STOP SPENDING TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Scrolling the internet (except my site of course) or using the smartphone instead of going out is a way to kill your productivity. I'm not saying that you should entirely stop using social media or any platforms that connect you with other creators and followers. I'm just saying that you should have more time for creation than for watching what other people have done. Create work that inspires you!

 

The above steps have worked for me, let me know if you find them useful!

I know this post was something different, so leave a comment and let me know if you want to see posts like these in the future. Enjoy Spring everyone! 

 
 

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Mikko-Lagerstedt-Passing-Moment.jpg

Lonely Tree - A beautiful day on the coast of Finland

For the past couple of weeks, I have been photographing all over Southern Finland. Last week I visited Emäsalo, Finland for the first time this winter and it sure was a beautiful day. I captured one of my favorite trees there while it was snowing and ice was gathering on the shore. 

I couldn't believe that I had the place all to myself the whole time I was there. It is undoubtedly a hard place to walk when there are snow and ice covered rocks. Nevertheless, I had fun time photographing there. Here is my favorite shot from that day. 

Lonely Tree - Mikko Lagerstedt 2018 - Emäsalo, Finland

EXIF & EQUIPMENT

Nikon D810, Nikon 14-24 mm f/2.8
ISO 100, 16 mm, 1/250 exposure & f/5.0

POST-PROCESSING

I used Lightroom basic settings to edit the photograph. The colors I edited by using my Phase Preset Collection

New Video Tutorial - Day to Night

Happy New Year everyone! For the past two months, I have been working on my first pro video course Day to Night. In the tutorial, you will learn how to capture, create, edit and produce ideas for fine art photography and manipulations. It will be fast-paced, straight to the point learning experience. 

This year it will be my 10-year anniversary in photography, and I'm happy to announce I will be posting three different pro video courses in 2018. In these tutorials, I show you all of my techniques and knowledge I have gathered in the ten years I have been photographing. 

First Snow

Feeling inspired by the first snowfall of the season, I headed to one of my favorite spots near our home. There is always something magical about the first snow and how it lights up the landscape.The heavy snowfall and the beauty of the landscapes with calm water made me appreciate the moment. In the blizzard, I saw a fisherman going for his fish traps and rowing in the middle of the lake. The scenery sure looked like a still from a movie. I captured many photographs here and might publish some later.

After spending time at the first location, I decided to head to Järvenpää and photograph a spot I have been to many times and this time I had luck with the conditions. Not a single person in sight and no tracks in the snow I carefully made my way to the beach. Capturing the beach and lake and balancing the elements I saw a man approaching the scenery. I waited for some minutes before he was in the perfect spot. 

Exif & Equipment

Nikon D810, Sigma 20 mm f/1.4 ART
1/160 exposure, f/4.0

Post-Processing

I used Lightroom basic settings to edit the photograph. The colors I edited by using my Phase Preset Collection - Blue & Yellow. 

 First Snow - Mikko Lagerstedt 2017 - Järvenpää, Finland

First Snow - Mikko Lagerstedt 2017 - Järvenpää, Finland

Vacant Beach

Vacant Beach is a series of images captured one August night after summer season on the deserted Yyteri beach, Finland

I visited Yyteri Beach a couple of weeks ago. After walking down to the beach first thing I noticed was this bright source of light in the distance of the beach. It was a new restaurant I hadn't seen before, and it was right at the beach. Unfortunately, it had huge lights that almost blinded me while I passed the place. I almost turned back to my car because it was something I had not wanted to be in my photographs, but I kept on walking along the beach and saw a lifeguard chair and a lifeboat. I took some shots and finally ended up in a darker part of the beach. As my eyes got used to the darkness, I loved how the dunes and sand looked. 

I saw this feather in the sand and knew there was something that intrigued me. I visioned a shallow depth of field photograph with stars in the background and the feather as the central part of the image. I captured a couple of different shots while lying on the ground and waiting for the camera to take the long exposures. And while I was lying on the sand I was in awe of the moment and how something so simple as a feather can get in the state of awe. I started by capturing three horizontal images. It was hard to get the perfect low angle I wanted. Finally, I got what I was looking for and continued to photograph and roam around the beach. I love the combination of crashing waves and stars and the smell of the sea. 

I wanted to create a small series of what I captured that night. I hope you enjoy the series as much as I enjoyed capturing these photographs.  

Exif & Equipment

All of these photographs were captured with Nikon D810 and Sigma 20 mm f/1.4 lens. I used a RRS-tripod.
20 mm, ISO 3200, 20 sec, f/1.4 

Post-Processing

I used Lightroom to edit these photographs with my Phase Presets (Color: Oldie).

Prints

All of my prints are numbered, signed and dated. You can view the prints from the button below. There are three different sizes and editions. You can read more about my prints here.  

 Mikko Lagerstedt - View - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - View - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Flow - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - Flow - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

 Mikko Lagerstedt - View II - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - View II - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Feather - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - Feather - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Steps - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - Steps - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

 Mikko Lagerstedt - Safety - Yyteri, Finland - 2017

Mikko Lagerstedt - Safety - Yyteri, Finland - 2017