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Getting Excited Again
Old 10-05-2016   #1
russelljtdyer
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Getting Excited Again

For several years I was actively involved in photography -- as a hobby, not professionally. Well, I wasn't taking photos every day, but fairly often. Now I find that I rarely take photos. I just don't get excited about doing it. Even when I take my small camera with me, I don't even take it out of my pocket.

The only time I do take photographs is when I'm out doing things with my girlfriend, Elena. You can see some of the photos I've taken of her on 500px (https://500px.com/russelljtdyer/galleries/elena) -- registration isn't required. Since she was a model when she was in her early 20's, I can get some good pictures with her, even when I use my Sony RX100-M3. Yep, give me a beautiful model, an interesting background, and a decent camera, and I can compose a good photo. Put another way, my girlfriend excites me in many ways. The problem is that she lives in Moscow and I live in Milan. We see each other once a month, sometimes for a couple of weeks at a time. But other than when she's in front of me to inspire a photo, I do nothing with my equipment -- I mean, my photography equipment.

Anyway, I'm looking for ideas to get myself back into photography when I'm unaccompanied. I spent so much money on cameras and lenses and studio equipment. I have a Leica M3 and M9 that I use rarely. I've hardly used the M3 since I got it last year. I was thinking I might do a photography project to learn to use it well. I saw a book on-line called, "104 Things to Photograph" that has suggestions. There are others like that. I think I might want something indoors, maybe a still life project.

Any suggestions on a project or how to get excited again about photography? Thanks in advance.
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Russell can be seen occasionally petting his Leica M3 camera and quietly calling it, 'my precious', much to the discomfort of those around him.


Russell's Photography Equipment (updated April 2015)
Leica M9 camera
Leica M3 camera
FujiFilm X100F camera

Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 21mm (E49) lens
Leica Summicron-M f2 50mm lens
Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8 90mm (E46 Germany) lens
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Old 10-05-2016   #2
charjohncarter
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Everyone goes through this, at least everyone I know. I do volunteer photography for a small theater group in my town, and this forces me to do a project for each play. At first I didn't think it would teach me much. But I don't use Digital except rarely. Now I have a much better rapport with my modern cameras. I also learned much about artificial lighting. I also have been challenged by post processing.

So, basically I went in a different direction that was new to me.
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Old 10-05-2016   #3
kbg32
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Try to concentrate on your life, your interests, and who you are without the girlfriend around. Look at art other then photography. Go see or rent films. Classic ones, not Hollywood. Read books.

Start out by doing a photo-a-day project. The images don't have to have a theme. Photograph something YOU find interesting.
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Old 10-05-2016   #4
Peter Wijninga
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I'd reserve the indoor projects for mid-winter. Before that...travel! Plenty of cheap flights from Milan to nearby European Capital cities.
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Old 10-05-2016   #5
kxl
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1. You live in Milan.

2. Hop on a train going in any direction.

3. You live in Milan.
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"... I thought the only way to give us an incentive, to bring hope, is to show the pictures of the pristine planet - to see the innocence.” ― Sebastiao Salgado
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Old 10-05-2016   #6
robert blu
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Milan? Try to photograph Milan showing the differences from the suburbs and downtown. Architecture, people, cafés, shops, transports, car parkings (if any!), streets, parks...
So many things can be different in different areas of a city...
B&W or color, film or digital, ...
robert
PS: if you manage to photograph not only the differences you see but the ones you feel even better...
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Old 10-05-2016   #7
Bille
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Sell everything and see how you like it.
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Old 10-05-2016   #8
Ko.Fe.
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Nothing is wrong with photographing only one Russian model.
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Old 10-05-2016   #9
skucera
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With Elena as your muse, why worry about photographing anything else? However, if you're in Milan, take pictures of other things that interest you. Milan has beautiful cars, fashions, art, architecture... surely there's something that brought you to Milan that gets your juices flowing....

Scott
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Old 10-10-2016   #10
seany65
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I know people say 'You live in Milan' and that it's beautiful and so on, but it's often quite hard to see what's there when you see it all day every day.

You may need to go to a completely different city or to a small village or a different country to see things that you want to photograph.

Perhaps put the camera down and do other stuff without thinking of photography for a while. After a while you may find yourself thinking "That would make a good photo, wish I had a camera with me". That would be when you pick up a camera again.

You could even decide to give away all your Leica M3 and M9 gear to new forum members who have been really helpful in your quest to get excited about photography again, and then after a few months you'll start wishing you had a camera with you, the you'll start looking at which cameras you want to buy and that'll get you thinking sbout what sort of photos you want to take.

I'm a newbie here, and I think I've been really helpful in your quest.
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Old 10-10-2016   #11
rfaspen
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Nice to see you back Russell.

For me, the 2 approaches that get me shooting again (aside from an external assignment) are (1) a project, and (2) travel. Sounds so simple, almost terse, but its honestly the best advice. Right now, for me, its a couple personal projects that keep me thinking about images (and making them). -- My ongoing scientist project, and my new night photography project. Actually, the projects are a little more detailed than that, but you get the idea.

Good luck!
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Old 10-10-2016   #12
farlymac
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Some days I know just exactly what I want to photograph, others, not so much. Even when needing to test a camera or lens, since I don't want to repeat myself all the time, I'm always looking for other scenes to show the working properties of the equipment.

Like yesterday, I had been cooped up for days while rains from Hurricane Matthew kept drenching everything, and when the weather broke clear and blue in the morning, I was on the road looking for inspiration.

It wasn't coming in the usual way. It wasn't until I pulled off the road into a small community park, and sat there enjoying an afternoon snack, that I started to look around me at all the images available for the taking. A fence line leading up the hill to a ramshackle barn. The play of light through the trees on a nearby stream. The surface textures on some rocks. The moon rising over a tree line. Cattle in the field.

They were all made for the lens/camera testing I wanted to accomplish, and all I did was stop and look for a while.

But your interest appears to be mostly portraiture, Russell. Maybe you can just sit on a bench, and observe the people around you. Or get some friends to act as models. Or just have a camera with you while out with your friends, and start taking candid shots. Sooner or later they may start making and holding proper poses without thinking about it, as they get used to you pointing a camera their way.

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Old 10-11-2016   #13
sreed2006
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Pick a spot on one of the walls of your house that needs a picture. Imagine what picture you want to go there. Go make it. Hang it on the wall.
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Old 10-11-2016   #14
jesse1dog
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Maybe your equipment is too good - too sophisticated!
Pick up something very basic either film or digital and see what you can produce - 5 euros maximum price!
Visit every cafe/coffee shop you can and photograph each cup, or the table at which you sit.
Make a book, and I mean MAKE a book into which to put the photos.
There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you.
(To produce a small coherent collection of photos (max 10) in an appropriate book form is not easy, and that's an understatement. The book could be a present for someone.)
j
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Old 10-11-2016   #15
jsrockit
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I took a ten year break from photography... and then came back more relaxed, very interested, and have been on a 9 year run of photographing all of the time. It comes and goes. No need to force it.
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Old 10-11-2016   #16
jsrockit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russelljtdyer View Post
Any suggestions on a project or how to get excited again about photography? Thanks in advance.
Maybe check this out:

http://aperture.org/shop/the-photogr...laybook-books/

Some of the ideas are stupid... but all you need is one to work and start a spark.
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Old 10-11-2016   #17
robert blu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Maybe check this out:

http://aperture.org/shop/the-photogr...laybook-books/

Some of the ideas are stupid... but all you need is one to work and start a spark.
I bought this book a few years ago and find it useful to get some "different" ideas
robert
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Old 11-19-2016   #18
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@russelltjyder, you could always do new covers for any cd single for albums you've got. Or even try to illustrate a poem, song or story with photos.

I've got a cd of some tracks by a group that self-financed an album which in the end didn't go on sale, so I've decided to do a cd insert for my copy. It's going to be a photo using various ideas from some of the song titles, and a couple of elements will illustrate the original and then the later name of the group.

It's going to be a mono landscape (the band's original name was 'monoland'), there'll be an old town (there's a track called 'Old Town') and if I can find one, it'll be in a valley (there's a track called 'Valley'), there's going to be a road with a turning in it leading to the town. This road will start off one of the shades of Sapphire (the band's later name being Sapphire) and at the bend/turn it'll fade to grey (there's a track called 'Turning Grey').

Probably a bit simplistic, but I've got to start this stuff somewhere.
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Old 11-19-2016   #19
p.giannakis
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When i feel like not doing photography, i try not to photograph.
Feeling like I need to do something and i am not doing it makes me feel worst about it.
Wait; Seek inspiration in other photographers' works and your motivation will come back when it is time for it to come back.
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Old 11-19-2016   #20
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I'm just coming back to shooting after a 7-year break. The fact that you're asking for ideas and hanging around a photography forum already suggests that you're interest is rising again.

You have all of Milan at your fingertips. Find a spot you really love and try shooting it at different times of day. Try to capture the different light, different traffic patterns, different people who would be there at different times. Then start to widen the area and move further about the city....
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Old 11-19-2016   #21
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After university, I found myself extremely busy, moved around countries etc, and I didn't touch my camera for about 2 years.

Then I met some people from a Leica event and they were the ones that inspired me to shoot again. I think it's good to have like-minded people around, especially if they inspire you also. Go out and shoot with a local photography group! That's what I did anyway

The thing I found is also, don't force yourself to shoot or think too much of the equipment. Shoot something you really care about. I'm sure some people have mentioned, you have your gf, I'm sure she loves her pictures being taken, and you have a model there to practise your photography
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Gratitude and Plans
Old 12-03-2016   #22
russelljtdyer
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Gratitude and Plans

Thanks for the responses. All of you have very good ideas. I've organized most of the ideas suggested in this post, with one central point.

I have done the idea suggested by farlymac and similarly by Pentode, about sitting on a bench to photograph people walking by. One month I forced myself to go out every day and take 36 photos, like a roll of film but with a digital camera, and select one good one for each day to post. I think I'll try that again, but maybe not once a day--that was a lot to do on a regular basis. Instead, I'll go out once a week, maybe on the same day each week.

Related to the comment by srid2006 (i.e., Sid), the suggestion to envision a photo to fill a space on a wall, I've initiated something like that. I bought this week a Canon Pixma Pro-10S printer. My previous Epson printer died, but didn't print photos as well as the Pro-10S. My plan is to designate a section of a wall in my living room for photos. I'm going to buy a bunch of picture frames, at least five, and print two or three old photos to put on the wall to get it started. But then I'll try to make some new photos for the remaining frames.

Following the suggestion rfaspen to have a project, I was thinking that the project would be to replace the photos on this wall each month with new ones. I could follow some of the ideas from the books y'all recommended. Maybe some photos will come from street photos one month--using the bench idea. Another month I might do still life photos. As jesse1dog (i.e., John Cordingley) suggested, I could do something like photograph coffee cups and related objects. As robert blu and kxl (i.e., Keith) say, there's plenty to photograph in Milan. One month I could use seany65's idea of creating photos to go with poems, and print each with the related poem. Ideally, when I'm with the girlfriend, as Ko.Fe. and skucera suggest, I'll photograph her. When I'm with her, I can't resist photographing her. As kbg32 (i.e., another Keith) says, I should also focus on who I am without the girlfriend around.

I think this wall idea will work well if I would change the theme once a month. It might be interesting for me and for visitors. Changing the theme each month could get me excited about looking to produce a new set and type of photos. I'll let y'all know how it goes: I'll post a photo of my first batch here when it's done. Thanks everyone.
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Russell can be seen occasionally petting his Leica M3 camera and quietly calling it, 'my precious', much to the discomfort of those around him.


Russell's Photography Equipment (updated April 2015)
Leica M9 camera
Leica M3 camera
FujiFilm X100F camera

Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 21mm (E49) lens
Leica Summicron-M f2 50mm lens
Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8 90mm (E46 Germany) lens
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Old 12-04-2016   #23
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how do you handle writer's block?

relax - it's the space between the notes that make the music... it'll happen.

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Never Have Writer's Block
Old 12-04-2016   #24
russelljtdyer
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Never Have Writer's Block

I never have had writer's block. Even if I can't think of what to write, I just write. I write something, anything, and eventually that leads to writing something useful and interesting.

I understand that you're suggesting that photographing is the same thing. I don't have photographer's block. My complaint at the start of this thread was that I don't feel like photographing anything, not that I don't know what to photograph.

The idea mentioned in my post from yesterday, of buying the printer and picture frames, is that I'm making a hole to fill in.

I seek ways to express myself artistically when I feel the need to express something. For those moments, I might write or I might photograph.

When I see my girlfriend, I want to capture what I see to show her how I see her and to show other people how she looks to me. Unfortunately, she lives so far away that I see her only about once every six weeks. Other than when I'm with her, I find I don't have anything that I want to express, nothing that excites me.

I'm starting to understand that this is a mental health problem unrelated to photography, but that has become visible in the lack of photography in my daily life. As kbg32 (i.e., Keith) wrote, "Try to concentrate on your life, your interests, and who you are without the girlfriend around." It's not good for a relationship or one's mental health to come alive only when the other person is around and to become a drag when they're not. I'm not sure how I got into this slump, but I need to get out of it.
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Russell can be seen occasionally petting his Leica M3 camera and quietly calling it, 'my precious', much to the discomfort of those around him.


Russell's Photography Equipment (updated April 2015)
Leica M9 camera
Leica M3 camera
FujiFilm X100F camera

Leica Elmarit-M f2.8 21mm (E49) lens
Leica Summicron-M f2 50mm lens
Leica Elmarit-M f/2.8 90mm (E46 Germany) lens
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