Keeping That Photographic Fire Burning During The Winter Slump

Keeping That Photographic Fire Burning During The Winter Slump

We all have that time of year when lethargy seems to run rampant by pulling our desire to keep creating great photos to the ground. For Vancouver, where I live, that time is right about now. Vancouver was carved out of the middle of a rainforest, which means we have a rather aggressive rainy season. It is pretty common to go weeks without even seeing a hint of sun. During this time, the motivation to shoot seems to wash away. As photographers, we need to take this time to toss several new logs on the fire and re-ignite that passion that is threatening to slip away.

Refactor Your Identity

There is no time like the present to take some time and really take a harsh look at your work over the past year. What did you do well? What didn’t you do well? How can you evolve to become a better photographer right now?

Refactoring is a term that comes from the world of programming and is basically the act of taking existing chunks of code and rethinking them in order to make them more efficient or logical. We can apply this same task to our photography. Take the time to go through your old work. Ask yourself how you could have done it differently? How could you improve the image if you were to re-shoot it right now?

Revamp Your Brand

When deep in the excitement of busy shooting schedule, it becomes very easy to push your brand to the back burner and just let it simmer while you work on what you love. A slump is the perfect time to catch up and update your brand to make it more exciting and professional.

Take a good, hard, look at your website. Is it representing the photographer you are? If not, time to rebuild or redesign. Are the photos in it representing your best work in an exciting sequence? If not time to swap them out.

Refurbish Your Gear

If you are like most photographers, you probably clean your lens optics quite often but ignore pretty much everything else. Take this time to sit down with each piece of gear and give it a thorough cleaning and evaluation. Double check the focus calibration on each lens. Clean your sensor. Clean out the cracks and seams of each piece of gear. Bring your gear back to as close to new as you possibly can. It will serve you much better that way.


And finally, get out and shoot! Nothing busts a slump better than getting out and shooting. It might not be what you normally shoot. It might not be to your normal quality. That doesn’t matter! What matters is that you get out and keep flexing those creative muscles so they don’t atrophy. Keep making images, it will help fuel your soul and keep your skills primed for when things pick up again!


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Tyler Newcomb's picture

Well. I like this article. Unfortunately, I've already used two of the three of these. There isn't much for me in last year's photos, as most of last year for me was struggling with many things in life and then only becoming wrapped up in photography after fall colors were gone.

Ryan Cooper's picture

There is a 4th item. ! :)

Tyler Newcomb's picture

Whoops I skipped the revamp your brand. I have been sorta doing that but I'm stuck at a crossroads where I'm not sure if I should go ahead and pay for a website (like $10 month max) or keep using the one that I have which is free and crappy especially on mobile. And I've tried doing the fourth, but it is Damn cold! I've come home (or to a closer friends home) twice near frostbite, and bringing bigger gloves doesn't help because then i can't shoot! Any advice?

Anonymous's picture

Been in that Winter Slump for a bit now. Work is ticking on nicely but private projects have hit the skids.... however, I dont view it as a bad thing more as a good time to take a break, do other things, have a rest from it all! Equally as important to our photography I feel.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Good article. I've been there a bit myself this year. Its largely down to the weather here in Ireland being pretty unworkable for the past few months, and the fact that I'm primarily a location shooter. Its been a good chance to force myself to try more studio work though. I can't say I've fallen in love with studio work but it was still a nice refreshing change. Still though, the evenings are getting a bit longer here and the temperatures are less extreme so I'll be back shooting outside in no time.

jeff hanson's picture

Ryan, love the tones of the background in the photos you posted. willing to share any info on the setup?

Ryan Cooper's picture

They are shot against a solid white backdrop (it is captured in camera as a light grey as I don't have a dedicated light pointed at it). In these shots I'm using two large octoboxes (60") which are on either side of the model facing towards her and slightly angled towards the background. There is also a stripbox being used as a rim light behind her to camera right.

Then in photoshop I create a layer folder with the model masked out. Inside the folder is a layer filled with a solid color and above it is a black and white radial gradient layer set to overlay. The folder's blend mode is then set to soft light as well.

Anonymous's picture

Good and timely article! It has been a little over a year since I started my photography business and while I am pleased with my progress I know I can, and must, do much better. So at the start of this year I started an Instagram account to show my work and interests outside of food photography, restructured my website and removed my early, and not best work, started researching and shooting other photography genres like lifestyle and portraiture. Not only has doing these things relit the first fire but has started new ones. Thanks!

Matthew Odom's picture

Winter slump!? Oh wait...I'm in the

Great article btw!

Ken Mock's picture

Even though I live 7400 ft up in the Rockies and have 280-290 days of Sunshine a year i understand what you say
I like to shoot table tope that take a lot of thought, Smoke, shiny objects on a mirror etc.
I seem to re learn about F stops ans shutter speeds and their relationships

Ralph Berrett's picture

Theres a winter slump? Only when I have to much Hot Sake. ;)

I've been working on a portfolio of winter wildlife shots.