How to Find Inspiration and Success as a Photographer

At the beginning of 2018, I set a goal to read one book a week to broaden my mind and seek inspiration from new places. So far, I've stuck with it. Lee Morris, Mike Kelley, and I decided to sit down on camera and discuss the experience. 

Throughout my journey as a photographer, I've had many moments of frustration with progress. Back when I was shooting as a hobby, I often compared my images to photographers who I aspired to emulate. My inability to reproduce quality photos that others were shooting often left me discouraged and I settled for mediocre imagery. When I started my own photography business, I encountered similar frustrations. My wedding photography business didn't grow as quickly as I wanted, I got stuck in creative routines, and at times I mentally accepted that I was doomed to be average. 

I imagine these tendencies are common to everyone, especially creatives who try to run their own businesses. It's difficult to see beyond the work that's right in front of us, to get a broader perspective on our situation, and to create new sets of goals outside the rhythms we put ourselves in. 

At the end of last year, I decided I needed to challenge myself to something big. I've never been a big reader, I generally averaged a few books a year at best. So, the challenge I gave myself was to read 52 books throughout 2018 with the goal of getting through one every week. I gathered a very wide list of recommendations from friends including inspirational, educational, and fun books with the intention of reading broadly.

One of the biggest things I've noticed throughout this challenge is the scope of how it's affected my daily routine and attitude. The simple act of reading almost every day has motivated me to improve other aspects of my life. Self-improvement choices that were easy to decline before have become easier to say yes to now. By pushing myself to stay on task with reading, it's easier to push my mind and body with other healthy choices. Most of the educational or inspirational books I've read have fairly straightforward points to them that aren't directly relevant to photography. As I've read, however, I've found an abundant increase in the number of ideas I've had with regards to photography and business. 

Discussing my process with Lee and Mike led to some great conversation and generated more inspirational ideas. Though Lee and Mike haven't been reading a book a week, they've challenged themselves in other ways and each challenge has given them a bigger platform for success. 

How have you been challenging yourself? What's a big goal that you can commit to shake up your routine and set yourself up for something better? You might be surprised how committing to a small decision might open up new doors for you. 

If you want to read some of the books I mention in the videos, you can find them here:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles 

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11 Comments

Oliver Kmia's picture

"The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life"

This one is a F*cking good book. I agree.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

Well, the title has peaked my interest if nothing else!

Alex Armitage's picture

Ugh, I'd be lucky to finish a book a month! lol

Matt Kantecki's picture

Great Conversation !

Great Ways to get inspired, not only a photographer's mind, but in general

Ted Chen's picture

I particularly liked the point about producing more than you're consuming, because then you won't feel like you've wasted your day (or life).

Great chat... I even managed to listen to it while I was at work (sshhh... my boss doesn't know!)
Seriously though, I started a photography blog in January and what Lee was saying about making contacts is so true. Through engaging with photographers online, I have had loads of them offer help, anything from just linking to my site to help with photographic technique. There are so many friendly helpful people out there. I'm really grateful to them and if I can give something back I do.

user-156929's picture

I would recommend some culturally diverse and historical books as well. It helps to understand disparate thinking; always a good thing for a photographer.

Paul Adshead's picture

Great chat guys, really enjoyed it.

Keep up with the resolution David, we need another video soon!

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

Really good points made in this.

Interesting discussion. I've been in a few training classes where the SMART acronym has popped its head.
Specific: What is your goal?
Measurable: How do you measure your progress?
Achievable: Is it realistic and attainable?
Relevant: Does this goal matter?
Time bound: Can this goal be achieved in a specific period of time?