For a while now, the cyberwaves have been buzzing with people saying that inspiration/mojo have flown out the window and asking/begging for advice on how to get it back. There have been discussions back and forth with many ‘solutions’ as well as ‘non-solutions’ given by all and sundry, from rank amateurs to professional working photographers. None of the answers really get to grips, people are just too polite and/or ‘modest’, with the real issue here.
In my opinion, the real problem is that many, many people believe that they are talented photographers and inspiration is a ‘thing’ that always should be there. Well the truth of the matter is that that is a fallacy and only the ‘photographically challenged’ will think that. Any professional photographer will tell us that a good 70-80% of his commissioned work is uninspiring. It is WORK and run-of-the-mill daily bread and butter. Most of these pros do other art, photography which is inspired. They work on their portfolios, private collections etc. All things that have nothing to do with their work. They may, for example, in their private work shoot black and white film which they then process and print the old fashioned way or the other extreme is to concentrate on developing their iPhoto skills. These are things that keep their love and passion alive. Keep their photographic intellect and talent sharp.
Ah, you say, but how is it that their pro work is of such a high standard if they are uninspired? Well the thing is these pros are talented and have great photographic knowledge and experience. When they work, they know their equipment, their experience allows them to work on auto-pilot. Their composition of a frame is automatic, their lighting arrangement is also automatic, so much so that assistants arrange the lighting because they know what is wanted/needed and the pro might make a small adjustment here and there . All the A-B-C and basics are all automatic through experience and learning. The times that a pro on a commercial commission will get inspired is if he happens to be passionate about the subject he is shooting, a rock star he likes, but if he doesn’t like that rock star, he’ll get the job done, but won’t be inspired. Just another day at the office. Talented and advanced amateurs never seem to lose their inspiration because they are doing their thing with love and passion. They are concentrating on their ‘private’ collection and don’t need to work as photographers to eat.
Now I’m not going into a diatribe about the ‘dumbing up’ of photography by IT and the internet, but, I sincerely believe that the onslaught by big business to sell their products and the availability to everyone of a photo-taking-instrument and being told day-in and day-out by all those concerned that the camera and software can/will do it all, has led to vast hoards of people who sadly lack the talent but believe that their superduper zillion bells and whistles 75000 mp camera with the 0-100000 mm. zoom must/will make them into great photographers. Thus we see, literally, billions of mediocre and less than mediocre snaps on the internet. These are the people who ‘lose’ their inspiration/mojo fast. Once the excitement of playing with their new toys wears off, they’ve ‘lost’ their inspiration. Once they realise that the camera does not make them photographers, their inspiration is lost. It is those who bluff themselves that they have ‘it’, who ask how to get their inspiration back.
The word that springs to mind here is saturated. A saturated market of all things photographic and related fields, fueled by the needs of those involved to economically survive. A saturated internet fueled by all those zillions of snaps which is encouraged by the aforementioned industries. A saturated hoard of wannabe photographers.
As for the loss of inspiration, those who believe they’ve lost their mojo, need to do a serious, honest self-introspection, soul searching and ask themselves if they ever truly had ‘it’.