Begin. Again. Part 2

In Creativity and Inspiration, Pep Talks by David17 Comments

Genova, Italy. 2010.

Last week’s posts on putting your ideas into action seemed to really resonate. I posted BEGIN and then BEGIN. AGAIN. Begin Again was aimed at the working photographer, this one’s aimed at all of us – the amateurs, the ones that do this because we love it, paycheck or no paycheck. Heck, some of us don’t earn money at all with our images, we spend it! This one’s for you.

If you’re coming to believe that your creativity needs legs before it comes into the world, if you buy the notion that a great idea for a photograph isn’t a great photograph until you make it happen, then perhaps it’s time to begin pushing your creativity a little harder towards action. If you read BEGIN and got fired up but simply had no idea where to begin, here’s some ideas…

Pick a personal project. Perhaps it’s one of many – too many – that you’ve got on little pieces of paper and stored in the “One day I’d like to…” part of your brain. Pick one. Don’t deliberate. Pick one. Now do it. Don’t start tomorrow or next week. Begin now. If it’s a project about coffee shops in your end of town, grab you camera, a 50mm lens and go scout it. Don’t come back until you’ve got some images and a list of shots you want. And a timeline. Stop talking about your great ideas. Make them happen.

You’ve been meaning to print the best of your work. Or put it into a book. Begin. Make a new collection in Lightroom or a new folder in Bridge and begin the process. Open your browser and make an album on mPix,com or download the software for Begin. Don’t think about it. Begin. And now set a deadline. I will send this work to before the end of the month. I will have my book printed by the end of July. Begin and set a deadline.

Still wish you understood off-camera flash? Reading all the Joe McNally books in the world isn’t going to help until you pull out your flash, put it on a stand, gel that sucker up and begin to play. Pull your flash out. Right now. Play with it. Now set one hour, one day, one weekend, aside right now and don’t come home until you’ve had some fun and become a little more comfortable. Understanding comes through play. Go play with it. Begin.

Whatever it is – reading up on a long-gone master of the craft, beginning a 365 project, printing your work, learning a new technique, embarking on that personal project you never have time for. Begin. Life doesn’t get longer if you wait it out. We get less time as life goes on, not more. Begin. And when those thoughts arise that say, “Yeah, I’ll begin, but first I have to….”  Ignore them. First you have to begin. The rest can wait. Your ideas are waiting for only one thing to be born – you.

If, once you’ve begun, you want help on making your ideas happen, then take a look at Making Ideas Happen, a solid book by Scott Belsky.


  1. For those who have commented thus far, some might be interested in creating a virtual book. SoFoBoMo, a project I’m currently taking part in, is a gathering of photographers who are given a 31 day period to make their own photo books. Details can be found here:

  2. Dan B – Thanks, I’ll definitely keep at it! If you do a 365 yourself, please contact me through my website and let me know where I can see your work.

  3. funny, I just downloaded “Making Things Happen.”

    “First you have to begin. The rest can wait.” …my new mantra, thanks!

  4. Craig – Awesome! I really like that wine shot on day 29!

    You know the muse is working when you find yourself “seeing pictures” almost everywhere.”

    I could totally see myself getting into a 365, and being a little obsessive about it… I’ll bet the blog/flickr/website also help keep you accountable. I know they would for me.

    Keep at it!

  5. Excellent thought process. I would also add to stick with it and see it through to completion. Certainly in my case too many projects have been started and not fully completed. I think we need to stay focus and be determined to see the project through to completion.

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  7. Hi, Dan. As a journal, I’m posting a “pick of the day” from each day’s shooting on my website and on flickr. Click my name above and look for “Project 365” under “Galleries”. Yes, the process itself does keep me motivated. I don’t want to miss a day! I think the most important thing is to shoot something each day. It doesn’t have to be timeless art every day (and mine are definitely not!), but just keep going. Even after only 38 days I find myself “seeing pictures” almost everywhere. The time commitment is substantial, even to me, a new retiree as of Jan 1. The rewards so far, though, have been priceless.

  8. Awesome post, David!

    Over the last year, I’ve spent my spare time (when I’m not working, being husband and daddy) taking photos. Frustration has set in because I can’t take photos all the time!

    Recently, i’ve embraced that I may just need to start carrying around a decent point and shoot camera to exercise my day to day addiction. Like Chase Jarvis’s mantra, “The best camera is one that is with you!”

    The hard part is to just BEGIN. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Craig – are you keeping a journal of your 365? Now that you have begun your 365, is the process itself keeping you motivated?

  9. “Life doesn’t get longer if you wait it out.” So very true… I started a 365 project May 1st. So far, it’s made me much better at operating the camera without looking at the controls, put me in front of a lot of new subject material, motivated long-overdue improvements in my workflow, and (of course) created a list of followup projects. Most important: it’s the most fun I’ve had with photography in a very long time. It may also actually have produced a few good images, too…:)

  10. Words well said. Looking back on accomplishments I have completed with a similar mentality makes me think of how many I have missed when thinking differently.

  11. Well my first task was to reread my camera manual. So much stuff I had either forgotten or didn’t pay enough attention to.
    Thanks for the nudge.
    Dick K.

  12. The more i read about photography the more i realize i do not know anything. I think you are right. Start now and learn one thing and get good at it. I think i will take that advice. Thanks David for being such photo nerd.

  13. David,
    I don’t know where you have time for everything you do, but you are an inspiration. My husband echoes your sentiments on this. Just begin and then take it as far as it will go.

    Thank you! Keep it up.

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