Losing Your Landscape Photography Mojo
Updated: Jan 29
Welcome back to everyone and I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and wish you all a very Happy New Year.
2017 was an interesting year for me as far as landscape photography went, I left the coast alone pretty much all year and concentrated on inland areas mainly due to wanting a change and because of my beloved puppy who I felt wasn't ready for dangerous swelling seas and cliff tops just yet, instead we just got chased several times by killer cows !
So much for inland being the safer option !
I managed to get to a few places I have wanted to go for many years including Snowdonia, The Lake District & Scotland, these were real eye openers and they really spurred me on with my adventures.
On the negative side I had such a bad experience in the Lake District that it also knocked my confidence and passion for photography.
On top of that between October & February my work goes into over drive and I spend all day working then come home and work for another 5-6 hours almost every night through sheer volume of bits that need doing.
It is physically & mentally draining and it left hardly any time for landscape photography sadly.
Between October and the 1st of January I only managed to get out three times in two months which was soul destroying.
I did however manage to go to new areas each time which in itself was positive and exciting.
The truth is I had hit a bit of a rut and I wasn't really feeling things at the moment.
There were several factors in this......
1, The bad experience in the Lake District (the last blog will cover that)
2, Being beyond tired due to the excessive workload at this time of year
3, Dorset....The county I once loved with such passion had become boring to me.
4, The non stop copying by other photographers who would literally shoot the same scene, same composition the very next day of it appearing online.
I had become very frustrated when I put an original image up only to see several people go to the venue the very next day and take exactly the same picture in the same way and I had watched it happen time and time again to other photographers when they put their work up.
Now people will say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I just don't see it like that.
If someone copied a book word for word and then sold it as their own work then it would be copyright and everyone would be unhappy about it, why then is it acceptable to copy a photograph that someone else has taken and expressed their art form in ?
Now this is a double edge sword I guess as in the early years I freely admit that I had done this while finding my feet and style, so I guess it's the pot calling the kettle black and I didn't give a second thought to the original photographer who's picture I had copied.
I felt I wasn't selling pictures it was just for fun so wheres the problem I guess ? For that I am sorry and I never realised how it would feel to be on the receiving end of this myself numerous times.
Dorset has undergone a landscape photographer boom and it seems in the past two years it has exploded and now everyone has a camera. This is a good thing as I genuinely believe that landscape photography opens a persons mind and gives them a focus (pun intended) and can help them live a more rewarding life and become a better person for it.
On the flip side it now means that going to a venue that you once had to yourself was now impossible and you would see a lot more people all fighting for a position so it makes things a little harder.
It also would lead to having your work copied constantly and much frustration, I can only imagine how the pros who have been doing this for 20 years must feel.
The end result of it is that I simply had to make my peace with it and accept that it is just going to happen and in all fairness some venues have an obvious composition that any talented landscape photographer would see right away anyway, it doesn't make it any less frustrating but I guess it's inevitable and in a couple of years the same photographers who copy others will be sat there getting frustrated that they themselves have been copied.
I decided to simply take some time out and have a couple of months off from it all.
Stop looking at social media once again (the route of all evil !!) and just generally keep my head clear of everything.
The answer was staring me in the face, get out of Dorset and go further afield for my pictures, that way I would avoid the crowds of Dorset, avoid the copy cat syndrome and fighting for a tripod space.
The downside to this is it would mean I would be going a lot less as I only had a certain amount of holiday time each year and weekends were a premium where everything else needed to get done.
I felt it was worth getting maybe 6-10 images that I was really happy with in a year instead of going to the same old places but with a different sky etc...
Now it might sound like a very small amount of pictures to get in a year but I'm talking about really tip top images that you would be super proud of, your very, VERY best work and then you start to see its actually quite a lot.
I would never totally turn my back on photographing Dorset, I simply love it too much and still intend to walk the coast often which will lead to taking the camera with me obviously, I just intended to branch out a lot more where possible.
I have been getting more pleasure recently with the workshops I have been running in Dorset, It's really great seeing peoples enthusiasm coming through and their excitement about seeing a venue for the first time and this had injected some much needed enthusiasm back into myself.
Seeing them make real positive improvements on their pictures too had also encouraged me a lot too and I started to feed off that and relish the challenge and get back into the swing of things.
During this time I was helped along by several close friends who encouraged me to pick up the camera again and on several occasions I had literally been forced out with them and for that they have my sincerest thanks as they know me and they know I live & breath this and it is the one thing where I can express myself and feel truly happy with, got mad love for all of you and thanks :)
So January rolled around and I had a workshop booked for the weekend and I decided to take along the camera myself for demonstration purposes at the request of my client.
This turned out to be a much needed boost for me and we all ended up with some cracking pictures, and perhaps more interesting, I had enjoyed Dorset again which I hadn't expected too.
So I have come full circle and you might say well what was the point of this blog, you're back where you were and thats true, But I wanted to relate to everyone how you can get these feelings that are hugely negative and you may well be overwhelmed with your work life etc... BUT the love of Landscape Photography will always be there and the draw as strong as ever, sometimes you just need to walk away from it for a while and let it recover.
Taking a break had done me the world of good as I had become far more focused on what I wanted from my photography and had several trips planned for the year all further afield.
I would still be taking the odd trip here and there to Dorset because it has a special place in my heart and well it was nice and easy to get too.
My main focus would be Wales/Scotland and further tup 'north where holidays allowed and I'm very much looking forward to it. I've always been a very solitary photographer but in recent times I had enjoyed several trips with other people and I'm looking forward to do more of that in 2018.
Good friends are worth their weight in gold and they can help you find your mojo when you've misplaced it and everyone should have them and keep them close.
If your in a rut then do something outside of it and examine what makes you happy about the situation and expand and draw on that and it will lead you through.
I'm a big believer in a change of venue for this too and a trip away can work wonders and ignite the enthusiasm once again.
You can push yourself too hard with landscape photography and it can become all consuming, its good to take a step back from it for a while and pay more attention to the things around you, family, friends, partners etc and give them the same focus you put into it.
Wishing you all much success in 2018 and may your next picture be your very best.
As always, happy shooting.
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