What is Your Motivation for Taking Photos?

Woman and Dumies for What is Your Motivation for Taking Photos
by
Kevin Landwer-Johan
Kevin Landwer-Johan

Finding motivation for taking photos can be challenging for both professional and amateur photographers. Discovering what inspires you to keep your photography passion alive elevates you to new realms of creativity.

Having purpose in our hearts guides us in how we express ourselves. If we’re motivated only to earn money to pay the bills, our photography will suffer. I know this from experience. When we are inspired by deeper values creative expression takes on these values and begins to communicate them.

Woman in a headscarf, studio portrait for What is Your Motivation for Taking Photos?
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f7.1, 1/160 sec, ISO 100

How Do I Find My Passion In Photography?

In this article, I will help you explore where to begin in finding your passion in photography. I’ll also encourage you to discover what motivates you to keep taking photos.

For most of the time I have enjoyed taking photos, I have worked as a photographer. It’s what I do to pay my bills. In one form or another, this has been most of my working career. I love it that I can do what I am passionate about to earn a living. It’s been my motivation for taking photos.

It’s not always easy. Photographers are a bit like rockstars. We would all love the success of making it big and earning well. But, in reality,  only a small minority ever find abundant success. I think for amateur and professional photographers there’s quite a difference in what motivates us.

Professionals always have the pressure of needing to earn a living with the photographs they take. Most of the time we are taking photos not for ourselves, but for the people who pay us. This is the major difference between professional and amateur photographers. It has nothing to do with the quality of images. I know plenty of amateur photographers who take fabulous photos. I also know too many professionals that produce mediocre work.

Finding your motivation for taking photos, and keeping it, is different for each person. Many will discover what drives them very soon after buying their first camera. Some will find what keeps them motivated and flow with it. Others will not seek to nurture that initial inspiration. They may struggle to stay excited about photography.

Identify Your Motivation for Taking Photos

Some things you can do to help find your motivation for taking photos (or keep it alive) are:

  • Read photography books
  • Go to photography exhibitions
  • Make friends with photographers
  • Seek inspiration in other art forms
  • Having Purpose for Taking Photos

When you have a purpose for taking photos you’re more likely to take more interesting pictures. Without motivation for taking photos, your photography will usually be lacking something.

What motivates a photographer will naturally build a greater expression into the photographs you take. The passion and motivation that guides you becomes evident in your photos.

Communicate Well

Photography is visual communication. As with any form of communication, how we choose to express ourselves is important. What others perceive in the images we create depends a lot on the choices we make as we take our photos. If we’re not intentional, we will not express much. The more we can express our passion through our photographs, the more interested other people will be in them.

Your life experience and world view are unique. Be aware of this. Incorporate it into your photos. Let your passion become evident in your photographs.

No matter where we are in our photography journey, it’s always good to know the direction we are heading. Where do you want to go with your photography? What style of images do you most want to create? As you think about these things, also ask yourself ‘why?’.

Desiring to become a professional photographer can motivate you to learn. Becoming proficient in the field you want to work in will keep you focused. But it’s easy to lose track of your creative direction. You may know what you want to photograph and how, but you can become consumed by the process.

For hobbyist photographers, knowing what to photograph can be tough to discover. You might have the whole world before you, or only your backyard. With no pressure to produce stella images, it can be difficult to know what keeps you motivated.

Shadow of a tricycle taxi on the road during a Chiang Mai Photo Workshop

What Do You Love About Photography?

Do you love photography because you own the latest, greatest camera? This is a huge motivation to many people. They love their cameras and spend much of their time consumed with the technology.

There’s nothing wrong with loving your camera. It’s wonderful to have such high tech equipment to work with. But so long as much of your thought is focused on your camera, your photos will suffer for it.

A passion for photography can start with the attraction to a camera. But your camera should not be the only reason for taking photos. At least when your camera is more than a month old. Getting a new camera is always exciting and you will be motivated to use it. You’ll want to try out all the new features and compare it to your old camera. Once you’re beyond this initial experience, this love at first sight, passion can quickly fade.

Be motivated by more than your camera. Be reliant on more than a good camera to take good photos.

Do you love photography because you have a favorite subject to take pictures of? Discovering what you love to photograph will help keep your photography passion alive.

Portfolio of KevinLJ © Kevin Landwer-Johan Lahu Smoker
Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 105mm, Settings: f5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 400

Maintaining Motivation for Taking Photos

Staying motivated with photography is more likely when you love what you are doing. This can mean having great camera gear to work with. It becomes more of a reality when you love what you are photographing.

Many beginner photographers are not consistent with what they photograph. Some move on and discover favorite topics they photograph for years. Others point their cameras at whatever random shiny thing attracts them. They may begin to wonder why they lose interest after a short time.

Having purpose and a plan is what motivates photographers. For professional photographers the purpose is clear. Paying the bills is a driving motivation until they become stars, then they can photograph what and how they like. For hobby photographers, discovering what they want to photograph is not so driven by need.

Once you do find what drives you, picking up your camera becomes a whole new experience. Your thought process will change. Hopefully, you’ll be so consumed by your passion you will often think about it even when your camera is not with you.

Finding out what you like to take photos of is a process. Some people will discover this quickly, even before they buy their first camera. For others, it takes a while. One thing is for sure. The more you are aware of discovering your passion, the more opportunity you will have to find it.

Keeping an open mind about what and why you photograph will help you maintain motivation. Your photography will not grow stale when you are seeking to photograph the same things in a better way.

Saamlor Montage Portfolio of KevinLJ © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photography is My Passion

Learning to identify what you enjoy helps keep a freshness in your photography too. Life is never idle. It changes by choices we make or sometimes because of circumstances beyond our control. Keeping an open mind and looking for new subjects to photograph is a great way of staying motivated.

In my first book, I wrote about my journey to becoming a photographer of people. This is my passion in photography. It has not always been this way. Initially, I was a shy photographer and too insecure to photograph people. Life changes. I was challenged and found motivation that led me to my passion.

In my upcoming new book, ‘What Makes a Good Photograph?’, I delve deeper into developing relationship with your subject. This is how you develop your passion and creativity. As these develop, so will the quality of your photographs. Your motivation for taking photos will stay alive.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post you will also enjoy “How To Develop Your Personal Photography Style” and “How To Know What To Take Photos Of.”

Kevin Landwer-Johan photographer
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