Have you ever felt dissatisfied or disconnected from your photos? It’s important to know that we all go through this and here are some things you can do to help.
I hesitate to call this photography burnout. For many, burnout occurs when they feel no passion for their current job or don’t enjoy the process. This is not necessarily the case here, but some of the solutions or methods that you can practice will be paralleled. I recently found myself enjoying the process, pushing me to wake up at 2:30 a.m. to take pictures of the night sky and continually get out into the field regardless of the conditions.
However, whatever happens, I come back to see images that do not excite me. Nothing I take resonates with my emotions and I feel very disconnected from my work, but I’m still passionate about getting out there and finally feeling that epic sunset where everything seems to align or find unique conditions that I still have to experiment. These days may be fleeting and there are a few things you can do to hopefully find love for your own images in the meantime.
Taking a break from anything you don’t feel connected to can be productive. For years photography has been a hobby for me where I picked it up when I felt passionate and dropped it when I wasn’t. These breaks can completely realign your expectations of yourself and your work. I found myself waking up for sunrise or staying out for sunset expecting more, wanting more, needing that dose of dopamine. I created expectations and let myself down when they didn’t happen.
The dance of pushing yourself to new limits without pushing yourself over a ledge of failure when you can’t find them is hard to balance. What kept me in check was simply taking a break. Whether it’s disconnecting from social media, taking a break from filming, or stepping away from an edit. This break in my work has chased away those expectations and helped me realign myself to enjoy the simple act of getting outside to create new images. At first, these breaks came naturally to me as I found myself only shooting when I took vacations to travel, so I didn’t have to force breaks nearly as often. It wasn’t until I started taking photos regularly that I expected more of myself and felt less from all the images I captured. I needed to force myself to breathe a little and each time I came back more passionate.
This is hands down the best advice I can give when you’re not feeling energized from your work, but what if you can’t take a break? What if you’ve chosen a path in photography that means there’s no break. So what can you do to help find connectivity?
I can’t take a break anymore. It was a turning point in my work. Something is changing without my being fully aware of it. The lack of passion in my recent work has made me realize that maybe what was once exciting isn’t so anymore. After finally getting the conditions I was looking for, I didn’t return to my pictures feeling satisfied; What is wrong with me?
I find myself excited for scenes that look nothing like scenes I tried to capture a few years ago. I’m more focused on textures and lines than on colors and sunsets. It really made me realize that I was doing it wrong. My insensitivity wasn’t because my pictures were bad or the conditions weren’t what I wanted them to be. It’s because what I wanted in my own work is actively changing. The challenge is that I don’t necessarily know what I’m supposed to be looking for to satisfy him, but that in itself is exciting.
I found myself in this position in an unconventional way, but something you can personally do is try to photograph something that you don’t usually photograph. If you’re a photographer who can’t take a break, try spending time outside of your comfort zone. I know many portrait photographers who shoot the landscape out of passion or wedding photographers who find themselves exploring the night sky to keep their passions alive. You might find new meaning in your daily work by learning new skills in other areas.
I made landscape photography my job but it still remains my passion. The pressure to always create can be suffocating and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by this lack of love for my own images. If you’ve felt this, take a step back and try to recognize that maybe you need to change your job and explore a little more new territory.
Saturation of your own work can prevent you from seeing it clearly. My daily photography workflow involves letting the images seep in for weeks sometimes, continually reviewing them with fresh eyes and seeing what my new reaction might be. Sometimes that doesn’t work and reaching out to peers or friends about their thoughts can be really beneficial. We are our own worst critics most of the time and putting in a little effort to reach out to others for feedback or just general thoughts behind some of your images can help you find gratitude in the work you do. have done.
Many times you will find that you are too critical of your own work to the point where it can hinder your growth. Getting reviews can confirm potential concerns about your images, but most of the time you’ll get comments that will make you see your images differently. That there’s so much to love about something you’ve captured, but all you can see is a simple imperfection because that’s what you want to see. This is similar to the dance of pushing yourself without falling off a ledge. You lose the love for your images and can’t find the motivation to create new ones because all you can see is disconnected creativity.
There are many places where you can communicate and get feedback on your images. Fstoppers has lots of great communities for all genres of photography or you can find discord communities like mine that focus on a specific genre like landscape photography. Not only can you get great feedback, but you’ll also find yourself making new friends in space and potentially reconnecting with your own work thanks to such motivation.
What helps you? Have you ever felt detached from the images you create? I’d love to know what methods you found because I’m always looking for better ways to keep those coals burning. As always, thanks for reading!