Sometimes it’s difficult to keep improving as a photographer.  I hear people say it time and time again.  Often not in those words, but that’s what it amounts to.

Here’s how it is often phrased, by people I meet on the cruises:  “I get all enthusiastic when I am on the ship and when I hear your lectures, but then I don’t get my camera out again when I get home.”

Or from others “Photography has had to take a back seat because (insert your own reason here)”

Or even: “I’ve lost my mojo”

It happens to all of us:  even the professionals, sometimes especially the professionals.  I get always get down-hearted if I fail to get a contract, or it I can’t run an event because there are not enough bookings.  It is tough to just keep on going.

So in this blog/newsletter, I want to give you my top five tips for keeping on going.

1.     Set a goal

Setting a goal for your photography is a great way to encourage yourself to keep going.  If you don’t have something to aim for, your photography will be, literally, aimless.  If you have a target it will give you a focus.

It doesn’t have to be an onerous goal.  Keep it simple.  Here’s a few examples:

  • Create and post one new photo to Facebook each week.
  • Photograph my town/city at different times during the year
  • Pick an Inspiration Sheet from the Academy and shoot on that theme (there near 50 of them available to Academy members)

2.     Accountability

It is so much harder to give up when some is holding you to account.  Tell someone what your goal is.   Ask them to ask you how you are getting on with it.  I am always happy to provide that sort of accountability to Academy Members and for annual members, I’ll even spend time with you to help you choose those goal and objectives.

3.     Make photography part of your life

What I mean by this is that if you can make photography an integral part of your daily or weekly routine it stops being ‘something extra’ that you have to find time to do, but something that just happens.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this has worked out in my life.  A few years ago I set myself a photography challenge to create a new photograph every single day.  That’s is a tough challenge and one you shouldn’t pick up lightly.  But when I did that challenge it just became second nature to have a camera with me and to be making photographs.

Another example is a more recent one.  I go geocaching (See: if you don’t know what geocaching is).  I don’t often take my DSLR camera with when I am geocaching.  But I do create images on my iPhone.  I set myself the challenge of creating a photograph every time I find a geocache.  Sometimes that is easy, sometimes it’s not so easy.  But what this does is to help train my eye to quickly see and compose images.  At first I had to make a conscious effort to do this but now it is just part of going caching.  And when I am out with my DSLR the techniques I’ve practiced (in terms of composing an image) are easily transferred to the ‘big camera’

You might be interested to know that all the images in the blog were created while I was out geocaching – and all  created on my iPhone.

4.     Get feedback

Nothing keeps you going more than being appreciated.  I go running.  I’ve run marathons, half marathons, 10ks and regular 5ks.  I ALWAYS achieve a better time on these organised runs than I do when I am running by myself.  Why is this?  It’s because there are people giving me encouragement:  Marshals and spectators cheering me on.  There’s many a time I would have paused and walked, if it had not been for someone shouting: “Keep going – you’re doing well”

It’s the same with photography, we all like to hear people say “great pic” or “lovely photo” and it will encourage us to shoot more and share more.   I’m trying to encourage photographers who read my blogs or subscribe to my newsletters to use a simple hashtag – if you add #InspiredByIansStudio to your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Flickr – I’ll give you some encouragement and feedback.

For my Academy members, I am happy to give more in-depth constructive feedback – a post in the Academy forum and a link to the image(s) and I’ll respond.

5.     Start now

The final thing that stops people is the “I’ll start next month…” or “I’ll start that when I get back from my next holiday” or “I’ll start [choose your own date/time in the future]”

The best thing you can do is – just start now.  Yes, it may be an uphill climb but remember that you don’t have to have everything lined up, you don’t have to do everything you want to do immediately but if you start… well… it’s a start!

You can always choose to do more or do less later.

Hope these five tips have helped keep making great photographs,