Photo by Melissa Niu

I am passionate about photography. By that I mean, photography bugs the living crap out of me and nags at me when I don't end up having the time to satisfy the craving that I have for it. It drives me crazy. It keeps me up at night. Frustrated. Photography frustrates to the point that I become helpless and want to lash out at the world for the inability to properly express what I envision in my mind, my heart, or my eyes.

And I love it: this calming expression when you're at peace with it. I love it so much that I strive to continually exercise the part of my lungs that pumps in the oxygen directly to the fire that burns within meâ”that fire that makes me want to keep trying to pursue and refine this ability to create, capture and envision. But occasionally, the pumping slows down; the fire dwindles and I lose sight, feeling, and the desire to put in the effort that my body innately knows that I need to exude. Depression kicks in; feeling discouragement from others and feeling doubtful that I'll ever be able to possess the abilities that I so greatly desire, the fire dwindles even more. But yet it is one of my passions, and as such, I don't–no, I can't give up.

Over the years, I realized that my passion never actually burns out completely; it only gets smothered. I'm an ordinary guy with a pretty busy life. I'm single, working a job, going back to college, and trying to make photography an even bigger part of my life, perhaps back into full-time photo work. I have fears, time constraints, friends, family and church, and other obligations that often push photography into an afterthought. Although it's an afterthought, it is substantial. It means that there is still enough bandwidth in my brain to pay attention to it and not have it written offâ”a sign of how I knew it was my passion.

Refueling the passion that I have has changed my lifestyle over the past couple months, especially since I've been focusing on this outlet.

I'll admit that making changes has been hard, but I've found that there are a few things that have made it easier to integrate the camera into my life and kindle the passion.

1. Surround yourself with people that inspire you.
Don't go and hastily ditch your current circle of friends⦠that's entirely not what I mean, although in some cases, that may be necessary. Seeing that most people are willfully submissive to their phones, I'd suggest filling your news feed with inspiring artists, photographers and creative people that gel with you and your style. If you're anything like me, not only will your appreciation of photography increase, but your desire to become as good as those who you follow. It'll also give you a chance to network with friends that have similar interests.

2. Share why you do photography.
Find someone that you're close to and share with them your "why." If you haven't figured out your "why," then now is a good time to think on it.  Everyone's will probably be different, but it really doesn't matter. It's the fact that you're trying to express how you feel about what you want to do. As you think upon, define, and share your "why" you'll subtly increase your motivation. Here's a tip for defining your "why:" think past the whole idea of "I do it because I want to." Think about how it makes you feel and why you find it important. It may be hard at first, especially when you're trying to put it words.

3. Integrate the camera into your life.
I'm really into portraits. It's my jam. Just because I love shooting people shouldn't restrict from occasionally shoot what I'm experiencing in life. I sold my heavy, expensive and really great Canon 5D Mark III and replaced it with my Fujifilm X-T1, a smaller more portable and equally just as great camera. I've found that I've been able to have my camera available at the most random times that I end up feeling inspired. There are days that I don't take it out of my bag, but on those days, I'm reminded that at least I had it on me just in case something caught my eye. My cousin, a street photographer in Taiwan, told me, "I think only when you are able to carry your camera around, will photography truly blend into your life, express who you are, and respond to how you perceive the world."

4. Make the time to attend workshops.
Many of those really inspiring people that you've hopefully added to your Facebook and Instagram feeds hold gatherings where you can learn, apply and get inspired. I got excited recently from a workshop that I took from The Wild Ones, a non-profit organization that was put on by creative and inspiring photographers. My friend Enrique ended up sharing it with meâ”and for that, I'm grateful. At this specific workshop, I witnessed a technique I had known about but had never applied. It opened my eyes to different thought processes and got me amped to go out and shoot and try it out. There were many more personal experiences that occurred, which I'm sure you'd have the chance to have. Many workshops may also provide business tips that could help inspire that business side of photography that often burns people out as well. I realized how much of a value it was to be physically surrounded by like-minded people who are all interested and engaged in same interest.

5. Keep your eyes open.
Every time I came across a concept, an idea or something otherwise inspirational, I'd make note of itâ”mentally or digitally. At the end of the night, I make/add to a list of things that I wanted to shootâ”even when I know it'll be a while before I'm able to shoot it. I know that at some point I'll have the gratification of checking something off that list. This goes hand in hand with creating personal projects.

Not sure of the difference between a passion and a hobby?
My mother always told me that photography is just a hobby. Heh. It's not "just a hobby."

It isn't something that I do for just for leisure and it isn't something that I do on the side of my normal occupation to help me relieve stress. It's a passion. To put it in terms that she'd understandâ”I'd relate it to relationships.

A hobby is a hookup, a booty-callâ”something non-committal. They're fun, they're mostly relaxing, and they aren't something that you'd keep around once hardship hits. You'll ditch it once you're dissatisfied with it.

Unlike hobbies, you won't want to leave passions alone. You'll want to incorporate it into your life as much as possible. It'll demand much, and you won't mind giving it all. You will make sacrifices and also work through the difficulties that arise so that this passion can continue and flourish. And you love it.

The intensity of the passion will fluctuate, but it will always be thereâ”and like other passions, it is worth working for.

Get obsessed! Get incorporated, connected and become yet again passionate about what you do and want to do. Go out and shoot.

You can see more of Mykii’s work at MykiiLiu.com, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Photofocus, and Instagram.

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