Well its that time of year, the days are short, the nights long and the weather is unpredictable to say the least. I find this time of year (like the rest of you) the hardest time. I look out of the window, watching as the cold and rain sweeps through and think longingly of being out and wielding my camera.
But dammit, I don't want to be held hostage by the weather. And you shouldn't either. So how have I been combating this the most nefarious of times? What is it that's helping me to keep my photography juices flowing?
Firstly, I've invested a lot of time into honing the photography knowledge that I didn't have or that had atrophied over the years. I'd forgotten many things, so taking the time to go back and re-learn have really helped me dive deeper into my technical knowledge. How have I done that? At the basic level I've looked into classes in local photography shops and online courses I can sit. These all come with great instructors and will help guide you in all areas from lighting through to composition and beyond. Sites like Coursera or Adobe Know How have been excellent places for me to buy and run through informative beginner courses in photography as well. Without these fundamentals its easy for you to become disgruntled with your passion. DON'T. LET. THAT. HAPPEN!
From there I've branched out to consuming content by some great photographers like Thomas Heaton and Peter McKinnon. The reason I chose these two is just down to my learning style. They both have a great way of explaining technical aspects, show the human side and have driven me to try hard. So look on YouTube and find someone that you enjoy watching and truly learn something from. Beyond that, I've started reading books that catch my eye and jotting notes down in my notebook when something crosses my mind to look up later.
Secondly, I've been trying out new equipment and investigating where I can go to take shots in Washington State. I've looked at great abandoned buildings, places of natural beauty and anything between. Then I've looked up when they look the best and how long it takes me to get there.
The biggest part of taking a great shot is the prep, which I'm finding which is phrased well by this motto "Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance" or the 7 P's for short. Just slowing down, thinking through what you want to shoot and why, where and when is best to go are all key to this. I'm not someone that likes to rush when I'm out with my camera, so planning is helping me in being able to work out how many locations I can see and having me eager to be out.
Thirdly, I've been looking back at the shots I've taken so far and starting to critique my errors so I can learn from them. I don't just want to take amazing pictures, I want to learn from every single one I take to make them better. Sometimes we can be blind to the flaws, or even see them all too easily and not want to share! I recommend taking a picture and running through the flaws and also the good you find. If you don't see anything then maybe ask a friend, and ask them to be honest with you. The key here is to not take the flaws too heart and to build on what you are doing well in your shots. As you've noted down those areas that aren't so amazing, or that are good but could be amazing, start to research how to make them better. Then go practice!
I'll wind this up by saying that you will get put off taking shots, you'll sometimes be down or what you thought was amazing isn't so good. We all get that way. It happens too the best. The only way to fix this I find is to lay out some shoots and learn new techniques to try when you next go out.