If New Years is the time for reflection, then the summer is the time for kicking ass. For some reason, no matter what your age is, the months of June to August are the biggest months to work and grow. There's something about the warm weather and long days that motivate everyone to do more. So take advantage of it! While everyone is on vacation relaxing, take that time to work your ass off! Here's how.
Shoot as much as possible
Yeah, obviously... This one is nothing new. But with more sunlight hours, it doesn't matter if you're a portrait photographer or a landscape photographer. There's now more hours in the day to get that perfect shot.
Join a Photography Group
You're not the only one looking to get better during the summer. There's probably dozens or hundreds of people in your area who are looking to grow just like you! Find a group of people just like you who want to get better. Chances are one already exists! Places like Facebook or Meetup (hell, try Tinder) are great places to find groups of people who are interested just like you.
Learn New Stuff
These next few months are great for in-person workshops. Those are perfect for networking and learning from some of the best in the world. Unfortunately there's no hub for workshops over the world as of today, so until then you have to research those on your own location. But there's also places like CreativeLive.com that allow you to learn wherever whenever. They even offer free workshops streamed online! Definitely check them out.
Try New Things
This kind of goes along with learning new things. Try something new that ties into what you like doing. For me, I really like fashion/beauty photography. I really want to try as many different techniques and concepts when it comes to this type of photography. So if I see something cool that I can mix into my style, I'll try it.
Some people will tell you to get out of your comfort zone and do landscape photography or food photography to get a new perspective. And I get that, but I don't always think that's beneficial. If you know what you like and what you want to do, don't change. There's ways to gain new perspectives while doing the same type of photography or at least something more similar.
Study Your Inspirations
Another way to learn is to study your favorite photographers and other inspirations. Don't just learn how they took a photo, but why they took it that way. Study their style. Learn from who they are and not just what they did. When an actor takes a part, they don't just look at what the person did. They look at the inspiration that went into creating it as well. You need to do that too.
This sounds very serial killer-y. I'm not saying you need to become them, but you can't just learn from the surface level. If you take what everyone says at face value, you are going to miss so many details. The same goes for photography, if you look at every photograph at face value, you're going to miss so many more details that went into the creation of each photo.
One great way to study your inspirations (or just inspiring people) is through interviews. One of my favorite interview series is called Chase Jarvis Live. There's great interviews with people like LeVar Burton and even Sir Mix-a-lot.
Get Inspired Through Your Own Experiences
For a lot of people, the experiences they have shape their life and what they do. If you're having trouble staying motivated and inspired, go do something else. There's so much more to life than just photography, and the summer is when to experience it. Go to a museum, or the park, or to a concert. Make friends, join a club, go to one of those restaurants that has those stupid challenges and attempt it. Those experiences are what drive your creativity. For me, my best ideas have come from when I was far away from my camera. Those moments when I'm not even thinking about photography are where I create my best ideas. Basically what I'm trying to say is inspiration is drawn from what you see and do. So go see and do new things.
In these next few months, there's so much to do. The thing is I can only tell you some of the things you can do, but not what you should. That's up to you. Go book shoots and trips for the next few months. Or watch videos from Kanye West's The Life of Pablo Tour and get inspired by the stage design (I mean seriously, look at this crazy stage design).
Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you take this time seriously and do something beneficial. Don't just sit around and wonder what happened in August or September. Use this time to grow and get better at what you love doing.