15 Photographers Tell Us What Gets Them Excited & Motivated to Create Captivating Photos
Most of us feel motivated to do things that are easy because we know we can accomplish them with no obstacle at all. Since our brains are wired to protect us from the mysterious unknown and all the hurt that comes along with it, it is simple for us to blame lack of motivation as the reason for not facing some of the most challenging decisions in life. So what gets you excited and motivated to create your best work? What inspires you to keep pushing towards your dreams and become a more skilled professional? We asked our talented pool of photographers what gets them excited these days and here’s what they had to say:
As an art history minor and avid enthusiast, I am continually inspired by paintings, specifically the work of Renè Magritte (Empire of Light), Caravaggio (The Calling of St. Matthew), and Dutch artists like Rembrandt (Night Watch) or Vermeer (Girl with the Pearl Earring). I am fascinated with their depiction and use of light in their work (chiaroscuro) and draw a lot of inspiration from their art in my photographs. I’ve found that it’s not just light, but often the absence of light or “ombré” type lighting that draws me into an image, and love when I have the opportunity to create something evocative for my clients that includes the same style of light against shadow in my imagery.
Environmental portraiture has become one of my favorite genres to photograph, especially on a wedding day. I love the challenge of blending vast mountain landscapes or inspiring architecture with a portrait of my clients. With the help of light shaping tools and off-camera flashes, I can light a silhouette of my clients to create an artistic environmental portrait.
When I’m not photographing weddings, I really enjoy photographing families. Whether it’s fellow photographers’ families or past/present clients, I feel that it’s such an important aspect to take a moment and reconnect with the ones you love and have that documented. Life is so busy and chaotic, but it’s also super fragile and when I photograph families, it reminds me to hug my family a little tighter and to book a family session for myself (which I know a lot of us photographers are guilty of not doing). From a photographer’s perspective, family sessions are a great way to focus on moments, compositions and lighting. It also helps recharge my energy seeing families express their love and gratefulness for each other.
From the very beginning, I have made it a point to always make sure that I always did everything I could to keep my love for photography alive and well. Being a husband and wife team, like a lot of others in this thread, it made things easier. My wife enjoys the business side more, but that’s also because she got into photography after me and only because she saw it as a way to start a new career path. No matter what, I will always strive to be known more as a photographer than a businessman.
Because of this, I am always striving to push things creatively and in new directions. Such as my job as an ambassador with Leica Camera and having a completely separate brand for my personal work. If it’s business that I love than I can go out and run any business. Shit, I can go out and open a smoothie bar. My love for this business is and always will be being on the artistic side of things.
I just wrapped up a project shooting a promo video for Leica for their new SL2 mirrorless body. I was given full creative power to do the shoot however I wanted. I found a location that no one has (Legally) shot in, an abandoned warehouse in Philly and put together the team. These are the types of shoots that still get me excited about today. I don’t have to be as hands-on as I used to be with the wedding studio now that we have the staff in place to help run it. This allows me to spend more time working on a project that I really love such as this one.
We are super in love with our studio set up. It’s been an amazing challenge for us, as we’ve been transitioning to more and more in-studio work over the last several months. Our go-to set up: 1. Westcott Shallow Softbox 3×4 w/ a Paul C. Buff DigiBee (overhead); 2. Westcott Rapid Box Switch 1×4 (+ 40-Degree Egg Crate Grid) w/ a Nikon SB-910; 3. PocketWizard Plus X Transceivers; 4. Nikon D750. Easy two-light setup. The settings for this photograph: Nikon Nikkor 24mm F/1.4, f/3.5, 1200 sec., ISO 100. Overhead light (DigiBee) at the lowest setting and Nikon SB-910 at 1/16 power.
I am most excited about the content creation retainers (photo + video) I’ve been booking. Having regular monthly income from the same clients month after month is rocking my world, especially since I don’t have to work nights, weekends or holidays. Narrative Photography doesn’t require a ton of fancy gear. I mostly use natural light and one Profoto B2 for fill, either bounced off a wall or ceiling or with their collapsible beauty dish and the help of an assistant.
I’ve been working with more designers lately, and it’s really nice to get to set a bit of a creative vision and I’m enjoying working with models who understand light already. The best part is I don’t feel pressured to work in warp speed at all, so I really take my time, feel out my set and my light in a way that I try to at weddings, but the pace of weddings doesn’t always allow for! I’m really looking forward to working in this genre more, even though I know that eventually there are creative directors and stylists involved – I actually think a collaborative effort sounds even more satisfying.
“This is going to seem like a plug, but it’s actually the honest truth. Visual Flow’s Lightroom Development Tools is something that has oddly reinvigorated my love for taking pictures. I love shooting, but I’ve always disliked the volume of work that goes with each photo captured. Knowing that I have to process each image I capture makes me often avoid taking out my camera. When we finished creating the process for Visual Flow’s Lighting-Condition-Based Development, it made processing so much easier. The speed and results made me not only want to create more looks and preset packs, but it has also made me want to take my camera everywhere again. The lesson I’ve learned from this process? Simplify. The more I can simplify every aspect of what I do, the more I feel excited and reinvigorated to do it.”
“Personal projects are something that always gets me excited. Getting outside my comfort zone and trying to apply the things I’ve learned as a wedding photographer. For example, shooting a motocross race. An event is still an event, even if it has a bike instead of a bride. But there is something fun and refreshing when you can take a different approach than someone that typically shoots motocross. You can explore angles and ideas that are outside the box. Especially if you don’t spend a lot of time digesting images from that specific field. This gives you images that are refreshing and also ways for you to bring what you learned back into what you typically shoot.”
“I love creating with creatives in unconventional ways. I love wedding photography, having the opportunity to collaborate with a fellow creator who “gets it,” in the sense of pushing boundaries and creating solely for joy…that gives me life. I loved getting to collaborate with Jackson Rathbone on his music album cover, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with him again in the future. There’s just something about creating with fellow creators, even from other disciplines, that stokes a fire for me. It gives me new ideas to take back into wedding photography for my clients, and in turn, keeps things fresh on that front as well.”
“I love working with female entrepreneurs to create content for their brand. My favorite part is talking through their brand messaging strategy and how the visuals will be able to engage their target audiences. This commercial photography work can range from a series of environmental portraits of the entrepreneur to lifestyle photographs of their clients engaging in the service/brand.”
“This particular commercial branding session was for Tiny Spoon Chef, a private chef. I created a series of environmental portraits, lifestyle photographs of a family that she cooks for, and a company story video of her sharing her passion and her “why”.”
“It can get crazy busy here in the Bahamas during wedding season so to break things up and keep me sane, I’ve been photographing interior spaces for an interior designer and also a private resort. My background prior to becoming a photographer was as a furniture & interior designer so this marries my love of design with photography. Creating images of beautiful spaces that are inviting and show minute detail keep me completely focused on what can seem like a long day but I love the fact that I don’t have to deal with people and I create my own timeline which includes photos at dusk or dawn to set the mood. I’ve yet to really launch this side of my business but I’ve been picking up more work via word of mouth.”
“I’m always excited about finding the odd feeling or really quiet moment that is hard to find because we are not used to seeing them. We’re mostly seeking for what I call “firework moments” and miss a lot of great opportunities. That is why now my heart races when I recognize a subtle situation that tells a bigger story.”
Justin Haugen – Website | Instagram | Wedding Maps Profile
“I’ve been kicking around the idea of personal photography projects that will take some time and planning to execute. Often my work spans the course of a day at most and usually consists of small events and portrait sessions. While I love the work I do in the service of my clients and their needs, I want to do photography that resonates with me personally and connects me with people who have stories to share. 2020 will be a big year for me to realize a long term project I’m planning now, and this image is the start of something special for me. Story-telling through portraits is what gets me excited after practicing photography for over fifteen years.”
“Although this technique is nothing new, I was very curious about how photographers take group shots with composite lighting, I was in the US for 3 weeks hosting workshops and my goal was to take a photo of each group using the composite technique. This is the first time I tried it and now I’ve already done more than 8 and am ready to test it at a wedding this weekend. Here is how I did it:
- Set your camera on a tripod.
- Once you have the exposition and focus you want, set your Len on manual.
- Shot every single shot with the same exposure and flash distance/angle
- Use steady backgrounds (trees move a lot).
- Patience: not all the time works, not all the time the layers in photoshop aligned correctly.
- Take time: DON’T try this on a real wedding until you are absolutely sure you don’t waste that time.”
Even the pros get excited by a new technique or new perspective, just proving that there is always room for growth and inspiration can come to you even while learning something brand new. We want to hear from you! What gets you motivated or excited to continue shooting? Let us know in the comments below!