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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, May 30, 2011

20 minutes a day to recharge your photographic batteries

I'm not sure if this is just a professional thing, although I suspect it might apply to all photographers - and artists in general. Do you ever get caught up in what you think you should be doing, what those around you are doing and what the experts on the web tell you you should be doing?

Do you get so caught up that you sometimes forget why you fell in love with your art form in the first place? I know I do. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do but creating art can be pretty draining if you don't take the time to recharge the batteries, refill the creative well so to speak.

I've tried lots of cross-training exercises. Getting the ol' guitar out. Writing. Drawing. And while I enjoy all those things I never really find that they rekindle my passion for photography. If anything I almost feel like they're taking me away from my photography.

So here's what I do, and if you think it sounds like a good idea then you might like to try it too. Give yourself at least 20 minutes a day and go for a walk with your camera. Shoot anything and everything that catches your eye. It doesn't matter what it is, how good or bad it is or anything else.  You don't even have to look at the pictures afterwards if you don't want to.

The aim of the exercise is just to sink yourself into the world of your own creative vision without worrying about anybody else's influence. If you're a pro don't think if it's going to be a portfolio piece, sell or whether clients will like it or not. If you're a photographer more for love than money then try something new perhaps, a style you've never bothered to think about before.

You'll find that the more into your twenty minutes you get the more in tune with yourself you become and the easier your image-making will become. If you visit a place you've been a million times before you'll find yourself seeing it in a new light. Why 20 minutes? I have to admit to getting the idea from Julia Cameron in her wonderful follow-up book to the Artist's Way - Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance (Artist's Way)

And she suggests that 20 minutes is a good time to spend with your art every day because most of us would find it pretty hard to procrastinate about such a short amount of time. Try to set yourself an hour or so a day and you'll come up with lots of excuses not to do it because it sounds oh so hard. So I work on 20 minutes and if it goes a bit longer so be it.

The above couple of images are from a walk I took along the Esplanade here in Cairns last Friday. Nothing spectacular but just a bit of fun. A lovely piece of sculpture and my brand new bright red Converse sneakers! (Don't anybody say mid-life crisis. Haha) Enjoy and get out and enjoy your camera whenever you can.

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