I read about how some photographers are having challenging times. How there isn’t as much work coming their way as before. Whining and kvetching about the “state of the industry” and a bunch of other stuff that does no good at all.

Then I see the Farmville and Mafia Wars and other time-wasting posts fly by in my Tweetdeck… many by the same photographers I just saw complaining that the business isn’t what it was… you know, back in them “Good Ol’ Days.”

Guys, these are the good old days for young people.

And, BTW, what has getting someone ‘whacked’ or finding a pig in your garden doing for your business? Anyone? Really… send me an email with what stupid time-wasting online gaming is doing for your work, and I will post it and send a bunch of links your way.

Look, I don’t care if someone wants to play those games and still get stuff done… who cares. These comments are directed toward people who are wasting time and worrying about their business consecutively. I am not against fun, I am tired of the whining that wasting time inevitably produces.

So I have a little list of 10 things you can do to have fun and will certainly be more conducive to growing a photographic career than tending your online aquarium. Here we go.

1. Identify your ‘Fans’ and create ‘Evangelists’.
Do you have anyone who is a super fan, those who love your work? Make a list of them. And then figure out how you can make them true evangelists for your photography. How can we turn fans into ‘raving fans’? Find out what they like about your work. Note what you can do to make more raving fans instead of ex-clients. It is so much easier to keep a client than to get a new one.

2. Take 5 of your images and do a critique of them.
Do it online if you want to be really brave. And remember that a critique is not simply what is wrong, it is also what is right. Do a thorough investigation of each of the images. What makes them work? What are their flaws? What could you have done to make it better if you had to do it again. Don’t do this in your head… write it down. In the process of writing or typing it becomes more important in your mind.

3. Write a review of a fellow photographer.
On Flickr there are those “Testimonials” that can do something nice for another photographer. If you don’t know someone, go to a gallery and see new work. Find the photographers I occasionally link here on LE, and visit their sites. If you have some shooters that inspire you, take a few images and write a review. Why do you like the work? What makes it special to you? How does the work engage you? You may find some ideas to help your own work.

4. Do something silly with photography.
Shoot from the hip. Take an image every 15 minutes. Document your walk with the dog. Document the dog. Take the camera and shoot without looking through the viewfinder. Make images at night with a flashlight. Play. It’s OK to not be serious.

5. Send a note or email to a photographer you admire.
If there is a shooter you admire, even if they are totally famous and nearly a celebrity in themselves, send them a note and let them know. Not a “you rock, dude… cool shots and totally awesome babes” kinda thing, but a thoughtful, well written note that tells them what you like and how it has inspired you. We aren’t doing this to get a reply… just for fun. And what you may learn about yourself while writing this can be very eye-opening as well.

6. Pick up one of those disposable cameras at the drugstore.
And use it to make incredible, outstanding images. One shot per shoot. In other words, if you do a shot of something, pull it out and make ONE image – and make it rock. So when you get that little stack of prints, each one looks like a million bucks – or at least as good as those little disposable cameras make. (No, digital P&S cameras don’t count. No chimping. It is about the fun of getting the shots back unforseen.) Alternate: Take the camera and shoot whatever the image count is on a single outing – no DSLR taken – just this camera. Make every shot count.

7. Take a Workshop in a different discipline.
Find a cool writing workshop and sign up. Do a pottery workshop, or something on web design. If you have never done any kind of art, take a painting or watercolor class. Sculpting and welding could be fun. Well, the welding thing could be a little dangerous, but then so is chasing elephants with burning torches… I digress. Have fun… learn something else, and it will burn some incredible ideas into your brain.

8. Pull 1 or 3 images out of your portfolio and write a short story based on the content.
An image is a story… now tell it. What is going on in the picture? What was the story behind it? Not the BTS stuff, fiction. Fiction. Make up a story about what the image is about. Alternate: write a poem that the image could illustrate. Or a rap song… whatever. It is such fun to do… and can increase the ‘story telling’ ability of your next photographs.

9. Do a video of you shooting.
Not a behind the scenes video… focus the camera on you from where the subject is. You can see what you look like when you are shooting. That is what the model/subject sees when you are shooting. Very enlightening, and it can help you develop your shooting persona.

10. Reshoot the cover of your favorite CD/Album.
Take it as a self assignment. You know the music intimately, and probably a lot about the band/composer/singer who performs in it. Of course shooting the artist may not be possible (Joni… “Hejira”… I am open anytime.) Take the lyrics if available and find an ‘image’ within them to help the illustration. The energy that concentrates on the assignment can kick some creative ass… ya know.

Or you can, you know, waste ol’ shorty in Mafia wars.

Follow along on Twitter, and if you are thinking about doing a workshop to jumpstart your lighting and photography, take a look at Learn to Light.

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