Stuck in because of bad weather? Waiting for a repair? Laid up with injury? There are loads of effective things you can do when you can’t shoot – here are some ideas
1. Clean your gear
Admit it, you’ve not done this as much as you should. There’s no need to go overboard, but if you’re kept inside for whatever reason, then why not make sure the contents of your kit bag are clean and all in working order? Get yourself a lens cloth, a Rocket Blower and whatever else and get rid of some dust, or dismantle your tripod to get rid of particles stuck in its workings. You’ll be surprised by what a difference it can make.
2. Immerse yourself in photography
It’s always a good idea to get involved with images other than your own. Reading photographic books and visiting photographic exhibitions are excellent ways to stay involved in the world of the photograph even when your own finger isn’t on the shutter button. Look up what exhibitions are local to you, or head to the bookshop and pick up a few you like the look of. Your understanding of the photographic world will be richer, and you may find a few interesting things to try.
3. Edit an old image
Chances are good that your editing game is a good deal stronger than it was a few years ago. Reach into your back catalogue, pull up an old image and boot up Lightroom. Now see what you can do with it, and don’t be afraid to experiment – no one has to see this but you. You could try pushing the sliders to extremes for a highly stylised image, or make subtle adjustments to improve the exposure. Just enjoy yourself.
4. Get some critique
Are you guilty of taking photos in a bubble? Stick them on social media, or post them on a forum (our sister mag Amateur Photographer has a good one, pictured), or take them down to the camera club, and ask for honest feedback. You’ll get it. You may not like it, but chances are good you’ll receive some critique that’ll make you a better photographer. You also might make some connections you want to keep, and maybe even make a few buddies to shoot with once you’re out and about again.
5. Check your backups
Hugely important. If you haven’t backed up in a while, do so. Check the hard drives that you store your backups on are still in working order, check everything is still safe in the cloud. This is a dull job but it’s an important one, so a time when you’re unable to shoot is perfect for it. Consider using the time to add an extra layer of backups as well – if you only use hard drives then start an online backing up system, or vice versa.
6. Make a print
Choose an old image, one of your favourites, and make it something physical and tangible you can hold in a hand and show to people. Whether you do it yourself or enlist the help of a professional printing service is up to you, but it’s a great way to use your downtime and give your photography a life beyond screens and pixels.
7. Organise the next project
And finally, we acknowledge that you probably won’t take your mind completely off shooting photos, so why not use this time to make sure the next shoot or project is really thoroughly planned? Get a countryside map, or a city guidebook, or an animal spotter’s guide – whatever is relevant to your brand of shooting – and plan exactly what you’re going to do once you’re back out there.