Sometime last year, I found myself at a loss for ideas on what to shoot, I seemed to be stuck in an endless rut of shooting the same stuff over and over again, and that induced a sort of laziness. It was just getting boring.
So I started a photography club. Pretty amateurish (the idea wasn't to go berserk over-organizing), in fact it was just an excuse to meet new people and have a little fun (my social life was pretty dismal as well. LOL).
The great thing about not having too much of a structure around the whole thing was that it didn't get intimidating for anyone. Complete novices with point and shoot type cameras came along and experts who had photo books published joined up. Anyone could suggest any theme and we would all trundle along with our cameras and shoot stuff we had never even felt the slightest curiosity about before.
Gradually, my own laziness and lack of motivation became to disappear. A whole new world of endless possibilities opened up, we had themes like "Urban Attack", "Hot Air", "The Lost Utopia", etc. And since there were so many people from so many different backgrounds we started looking at stuff in a very different light. The only rule we started out with was that on each outing there would be one mandatory subject that would get picked once we got on location. And it was really amazing to see how many different perspectives there could be on the same subject.
After a bit I joined DT (and I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from an expert or incredibly successful here). There have been occasions when I have felt incredibly frustrated here with my progress. So much so that I stopped enjoying myself all over again. The guys and gals in the photo club have been a great help in reminding me what it was about photography that I have always enjoyed. And they have always managed to reinvigorate me, simply by the breadth of original ideas that everyone seems to be coming up with. Just looking at all the different takes different people (we have engineers, art historians, IT people from different parts of the world) come up with on the same subject .
In the end what happened is that I came to realize that it doesn't matter how many photos get accepted or get sold, the end all and be all of any activity should be the enjoyment you derive from it. And especially to have the opportunity to see how many diverse points of view there can be on the same thing. It may sound a bit presumptuous, but in the end just this simple hobby can help develop a better understanding between people and remind us to remain open to other point of views and try and expand our own vision.
I think I would encourage everyone to join or create a group like this. It is incredibly motivating and inspiring to see everyone coming up with so many ways to photograph something, and you are never at a loss as to what to shoot next, since there are so many of you with so many different interests that there is always an idea that comes up which you would never have thought of yourself! "I don't know what to shoot" may never have to be an excuse again, and the group will always be there to encourage you and help you progress.