I've got into a bit of a rut - Help!


EOS 5D Mark IV
Jan 13, 2013
Amateur / hobby shooter here ... My first post in quite a while.

Around 18 months ago it seems like I fell out of the sky. Moved cities because of work and troubles mounted exponentially. Photography quickly took a back seat and I kept telling myself that I'll get back to shooting sooner rather than later. Days became months and months have now started accumulating at an alarming pace.

Photography always seemed to be the only thing that helped me keep my sanity since I would forget all my worries when I had the camera in hand. My wife realized this early and has encouraged me to go out and shoot but I haven't been able to manage that.

I look at my gear daily (still keep it next to the bed) and pick up the camera once in a while but the shutter has had, at best, 2,000 clicks in the past year. Have considered selling my gear but have not been able to take the plunge.

Now I am more settled and have time to shoot but I just can't get myself to do it. Somehow, I am having a problem getting started. The difference between a rut and the grave is the depth and I don't want to end there.

Has any of you faced similar issues in your photography? A little help / suggestions will be welcome.


Jul 28, 2015
I have faced similar times of motivation but maybe not to the depth you describe

When you were shooting regularly what was it that grabbed your attention?
Was there a skill you always thought 'I must learn that...' ?

I would browse photo magazines and the internet - in doing that discovered water-drop photography which added a kick to my willingness to pick up the camera.


May 15, 2014
Take a trip? Travel? Something with a focus on photography first? Whether it be a big week long trip, just a long weekend, or even a day trip somewhere. Just break out of your day to day routine and bring the camera with you.

I don't know where you are, but I'm in northern US and January is a very bland time to get out and do anything. I usually go through a lull during some of the winter months. I'll take some portraits of the kids, play around with lighting, do some macro stuff. Dig around your home. As a buddy once told me, he could spend a year doing macro work of all the old junk in his basement.

Brainstorm some "practice settings". Like take the camera out and only shoot in full manual and use the light meter. Or shoot a day in manual focus only. Or mount a prime you don't use often and only shoot that prime for a week, forcing you to tailor the composition by the limit of that field of view only. Buy a new piece of gear to get you excited about.

I did 365 projects for 2014 and 2016. 2017 was a year of a lot of travel (Asia, California, France) where I got some great shots on trips, but my day to day photography took a back seat. I got burned out a bit in 2016 having the camera with me all the time and the 365 project started to become a chore.

It's okay to take a break and life will always have distractions and adventures. Only you can decide what to do, where your passions are etc. But my gut tells me that selling your gear seems like too swift of an action.

Either way, don't panic and good luck!


CR Pro
Apr 3, 2013
Isle of Wight
Hi J.R.
First sorry to hear of your problem, what sort of things do you like to shoot?
I’m going to guess that in 18 months you have had a chance to explore the new surroundings to some extent so my tip would be to plan to visit a place that you think would be nice, grab some suitable gear and go.
If possible pick somewhere where you stand a chance of meeting another photographer and just say hi, if it was me I would be happy to engage in conversation and that might lead to some leads on where to go or give you ideas on what else to shoot. It could also turn in to making a new friend!
As for which gear to take on the first outing I see two ways to proceed, either pick a small selection that fits the needs of the chosen location, or chuck (not literally) all your gear in the car and if circumstances dictate you can change tack rather than pack up and go home even more unfulfilled!
If you like landscape / nature there is scope for a good project to give you the incentive go out repeatedly, pick somewhere with a good view and determine to document the effects of the seasons or the passage of time, the important thing with this project is to make it easy to replicate your setup, make notes, cellphone shot of the location and pick something to denote the edge of the shot so that the view is the same.
Don’t make the same mistake I did of having a bare tree in the first season, by spring it was a green blob blocking a good portion of the shot!
Perhaps if you give your location you might find someone on here willing to meet up and give you a kick in the pants help you get motivated! :)

Cheers, Graham.


Oct 6, 2014
yes, I go through it and take long breaks every few years. Then something sparks the interest, new tech, or new subjects and I pick it back up. Have done it 4 times in last 30 years. Still have the original Canon EOS from '88 and can't part with it for sentimental reasons.So, keep your gear, give it time, it'll come back.

Last time I was in a rut, I paid Adam Marelli for few sessions. That opened up my eyes to things I was not seeing and sparked my interest again. You might want to give that a shot. He is really, really good, and while expensive you get a lot for your money.

good luck!



EOS 5D Mark IV
Aug 23, 2013
Bahia Brazil
I understand you. There are things we know that make us good, but even so, we lack motivation.

In these cases, a friend or group to go out with you can kick start. Places that are nice to you. Maybe a zoo or a tree-lined square, or even the backyard of your house. I do not know what equipment you have, but a macro extension tube can be a lot of fun with a 50mm lens for example.

Another thing is to make photos for anyone to see? This is another reason to share your photo with friends, or even post on the internet, and even here in canonrumors, where the gear heads often look for images of the camera or lens they are searching.


Sufficiently Pixelated
CR Pro
Dec 20, 2012
In my case, parenting these past 3.5 years, being the afternoon and nighttime caregiver with little adult contact during those hours...Wow. Really has set me back. I totally relate J.R. On the positive side, I've learned a lot about child photography from the technical and creative persepctives, though working with other people's kids, I'm not very confident.

One thing that does keep help me keep making progress is that I keep reading about photography, keep working with PS and LR to learn new techniques, keep watching tutorials. Learning makes me want to try the new approaches, which means I have to take at least a few photos, sometimes surprising myself.

Another source of inspiration for me: Grim and/or quirky TV series. Being home so much in the evenings, and not being able to go out once the kids are in bed, I've had a chance to watch series from Europe and Asia, crime stuff being my preference, plus some SF & fantasy. I've been seeing a lot of very creative approaches to cinematography, and I've become much more aware of lighting and color-grading. This prompts me to learn and experiment.

For myself, I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel, as soon my wife will be working days, at last, and BOTH kids will be in school. I can finally get back to portrait work during the days, and having a more normal social life at least several nights a month.

I read on the web somewhere a few days ago about becoming a more interesting person to make more interseting photos. Lately that seems a very tough goal for me! I don't want to be an eccentric parent by any means, but it is time to get mixing with adults again!

Hang in there!



CR Pro
Jan 3, 2018
JR, good luck with catching the bug once again.
To the many good ideas already posted, I'd add the idea of setting yourself a project such as producing a calendar for next year - say 12 shots, one a month, of your new city/locale. Gives you an excuse to get out with your gear, with only a target of one photo a month, and should lend itself to whatever type(s) of photography took your interest previously, be that landscape, portrait, macro, etc.


OK, I get it, you love the word 'PURIST'
Dec 17, 2013
What works for me, ymmv...

When ever I get into a rut I try something new. Now that doesn't mean I am suddenly energized to shoot a new genre, style or medium. Usually it tells me I have certain strengths and I should fall back on them. If I expose myself to something new and exciting, then +1 for me. Also, perusing LR catalogs of yore stirs up memories of periods where I had the bug bad and sometimes that gets me out again.

Photography is in a constant battle with two other hobbies/passions in my life. Over the past 30 odd years they have all traded places on the podium. I am comfortable with that and I know things always come back full circle.

Also the act of selling gear which has sat unused for a long period to buy new gear which may or may not serve me well gets me out there again to play with the new glass/strobes, whatnot.

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
Go for a walk....

Sometimes, a bit of physical activity helps to shake depression. Just go wander around and see. Look at things and play with the camera. No expectations, no schedule, just wander somewhere.....


EOS 5D Mark IV
Jan 13, 2013
Thank you for your responses and suggestions. There are some pretty good ideas here I feel. Will circle back.

BTW, I did what Don suggested in his last comment. Made a lightweight travel kit (5D3, 16-35, 50 and 70-200 f/4 IS) and went out for a walk. Took images of flowers that are starting to bloom - still have to load the images on the computer though.

The rest of the gear, I've put in a closet for the moment.

Thanks again!


EOS 5D Mark IV
Jan 13, 2013
Sporgon said:
J.R. said:
Made a lightweight travel kit (5D3, 16-35, 50 and 70-200 f/4 IS) and went out for a walk.
The thought of going for a walk with that lot would put me off photography for life ! ;)
I had thought someone might just say that ;D but then the objective was to shoot anything nice I came across... In this case it happened to be some flowers.

BTW, it is really lightweight around 2.6 kg (945g + 615g + 290g + 760g) when you compare it to the 1DX2 and the big whites / primes I used to usually carry.


5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
J.R. said:
Sporgon said:
J.R. said:
Made a lightweight travel kit (5D3, 16-35, 50 and 70-200 f/4 IS) and went out for a walk.
The thought of going for a walk with that lot would put me off photography for life ! ;)
I had thought someone might just say that ;D but then the objective was to shoot anything nice I came across... In this case it happened to be some flowers.

BTW, it is really lightweight around 2.6 kg (945g + 615g + 290g + 760g) when you compare it to the 1DX2 and the big whites / primes I used to usually carry.
Try going out with just your 5DIII and your 50 mm prime. It can be quite refreshing !


May 11, 2017
One thing that has helped me get the excitement back is to spend some time going back over my past work, finding stuff that I want to reprint, or stuff that I didn't print that looks better to me now, or stuff that might look better recropped. Another thing that I have done is organize my past work into galleries.

As others have said, finding photography groups or classes can be helpful, both for seeing the work of others, and for having others look at your work. Groups and classes also tend to create goals and deadlines for completing finished work.
One thing I find very useful is always having my camera with me or close by.

I've lost count of the number of times I've been out and about doing general life things and come across something that just begs to be photographed - an animal in an abnormal place, a new piece of street art in a laneway, a rare or interesting car, a cool cloud formation, a community event I didn't know was happening etc.

You can't manufacture motivation, you can only find it in your environment. Let it reveal itself to you by keeping your eyes open. Cameras are simply a way for us to capture the things we see. Some people write poetry, some people draw or paint, we take photos. All of them require us to see the interesting and beautiful things around us.


Jun 30, 2013
Some good advice here and I agree with the comments about getting out. When you feel in a rut, the most difficult thing can simply be getting out of the house. Take a trip to somewhere you haven't been before. If you go somewhere that is too familiar it won't necessarily help.

Secondly, look at other people's photos. Doing this helps inspire me to take photos myself. Thirdly, don't beat yourself up and always listen to your body. Life is all about ups and downs, good times and bad times, chaos and order, and these feelings occasionally are perfectly natural, especially if you have been through difficult times. When the time is right you will know it. Don't push yourself to do something because your brain is telling you to (logically) when you know intuitively that you aren't ready.

In 2002 I quit my job in the UK and planned to start a new life in Asia, however, something deep inside was holding me back and I ended up in no-man's land - unable to go back and unable to move forward. It was terrible. My brain (logical reasoning) kept telling me to fight it, but I got myself into a right mess because deep down I wasn't ready. Listen to your heart/gut/intuition/sixth sense/whatever and you will do the right thing for you. Yes, time goes quickly, but don't force yourself to do something before you are ready.
Feb 18, 2018
Inspire Yourself by looking at beautiful pictures, photography books or even some movies and You will feel the urge to photograph Yourself coming again.


Real men single speed.
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
Irving, Texas
I also click very few times in a year. I understand your alarm, but it always helps me to remember this: "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." -- Ansel Adams

Maybe he shot thousands of photos a year. I don't know that's the case, and I'll never be him.

In the last 5 years I've maybe shot 30 photos that are considered significant to me. Nobody else may think so, but what matters is what I think. To be significant to me means the photo shows I've learned something valuable.

So here's a load of encouragement for you. I hope you can overcome this. It isn't always easy, but it will come back to you. :)
Feb 18, 2018
For me joining a photoclub helped.
For startes you could join us at photo.net Canon eos forum, and participate in the Thursday picture.
It forces me to post a photo every week.