What's Next?
In the last newsletter I asked readers to send me suggestions for topics to include in this issue. This prompted one of the readers to share how they struggled to stay motivated and focused on photography during the winter. They asked me for some ideas about how to keep going so I sent an email with a number of ways to stay engaged. They thought that others might find some of those ideas helpful so I've expanded upon them below. This list could be triple the size but for the sake of brevity I'm keeping it to nine ideas. 

All of the following suggestions are avenues that I've explored, and continue to explore, myself. When entered into each one acts as a pathway to action, engagement and enjoyment. Over this winter I'll be working on several projects; one is the developing of a 2016 workshop calendar - I'll be announcing that in January.

As mentioned in the Nov. newsletter there was National Geographic Landscape and Nature Photography seminar here in Toronto with Michael Melford and Eddie Soloway. A group of us met up and attended. It was outstanding and each one of us walked away totally inspired. There will be other events through the year that will offer the chance to meet up for awesome events like this. If you're interested simply contact me so we can put you on the list.

How to stay motivated 
to make  photos during Winter

1.  Edit, organize and sort your existing photos 

Look for previously unnoticed themes, concepts and golden threads that run through your photography; break things down into small collections. If you don't already know how, learn to use Adobe Lightroom® which is made for these tasks. 

2.  Get 'in person' feedback from trusted friends and colleagues

Rather than fishing for online 'comments', sit down with people you trust and show them your work. Ask them what they see. Obtain feedback from a photographer who has the experience and the ability to provide guidance. There is many amazing photographers that can't do this for others.  Ask for feedback regarding what you are trying to achieve with your photos. The key here is human contact. 

3.  Enter a photo contest  

Check out 'The Photographer's Guide to Photo Contests'  compiled by Photoshelter  click here   PS  powers my website and adds great value by serving up a large, constant stream of studies, surveys and articles that address issues in the photo community at large. This list is authoritative, extensive and free.

4.  Visit the Toronto Public Library Reference Branch

When my enthusiasm for photography starts flagging I head for the TPL Reference Library located near Yonge and Bloor - you don't even need a library card to enjoy the incredible collection of rare/hard to findbooks on photography found on the 5th floor. These books offer the opportunity to study the masters of the craft. These are the books that we are never allowed to borrow due to their rarity, value or both. This branch is conveniently located and has a Balzac's CafĂ© in the building! If you aren't inspired after 60 minutes in there then you need to check for a pulse!

5.  Start printing your work

Taking our photos off the hard drive and printing them on paper has a stimulating and inspiring effect. I'm using an Epson 3880 printer, which I really love for it's simplicity, ease of use and print quality. With the demise of Blacks I'd say that for small inexpensive proof prints Shoppers, Loblaws and Downtown Camera are decent choices; Costco used to be a good source but I haven't used them in awhile. For higher quality prints I recommend Pikto in the Distillery District.

6. Go to photo exhibits around GTA

Nothing inspires me more than seeing photo exhibitions where we can actually stand in front of a photographer's work. A few places to see work are first and foremost the Stephen Bulger Gallery (free admission), The Ryerson Image Centre  (free admission), the Art Gallery of Ontario (free on Wednesday nights) and the Royal Ontario Museum(which is also a great place to shoot in the winter).

7.  Give yourself an assignment or project to complete

Can't think of a photo project to start? click here for some ideas. The personal photo project (and book) are hugely popular right now and for good reasons. A combination of the right technology and a collective yearning for creative expression are fueling this movement. Click here  to see a DIY guide to self publishing. 

Take a close look at things, places, communities, people or activities that you have access to. Don't assume that everyone else does or is interested. Pick a few of these things to explore in depth over the winter. For instance the lead photo above was made when I was exploring one of the many amazing locations that really anmount to Toronto's Hidden Treasures. Make a small series, 10 -15 images, of one of those things. This will get you through the winter.

8. Study the Masters

By this, I mean learn from the lessons of their lives and struggles as well as by studying their illuminating works. And learn from masters of all forms. For instance, I was relieved to find out that when the Spanish artist Goya first started painting portraits he was actually quite weak; it took a decade of steady work for him to reach the level of mastery for which his portraits are so well known. There is hope for us mere mortals!   Read more....
9. Discover Toronto's indoor locations

During the cold months don't use the weather as an excuse to stop shooting. If you really don't like the icy temperatures explore the wealth of indoor locations available in our city. I keep a list called '  
that's been developed over the years I've spent photographing this city. Remember that many of the best photos are made in places that are accessible to us and allow us to revisit frequently. These private projects can keep you going the entire winter. It's fun, it's creative and it's warm!

OK - that's it for this list of suggestions - if you have something photographic that you like to do in the winter and you'd like to share with others, just send it in to me and I'll include it on the list for next time.

Thanks for looking at my newsletter

I appreciate you taking the time to look at the newsletter and always take suggestions regarding information or topics you'd like to see. Email me anytime to keep in touch or share about projects you're working on or comments you'd like to make.

Michael O'Brien photographer| 416 778 6521| m ichael@michaelobrienphoto.com  www.michaelobrienphoto.com