Develop a Photographic Habit

A habit is something you do over and over again. A habit is what you do automatically without thinking.

Author and habit researcher Charles Duhigg wrote a book called: “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It.”

Duhigg figured out that habits were not just routines, habits actually form because of a loop of three stimuli. He calls the grouping of stimuli a Habit Loop.

What is a habit loop?

a. CUE a trigger – example: wake up

b. ROUTINE a behavior – example: go for a jog

c. REWARD a result – example: loose the weight you want to loose, to feel good, look good, and get noticed in a positive way

Experiments have shown, according to Duhigg, that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories: 

  • Location – I am at the refrigerator and triggered to eat 
  • Time – It is 3:30 p.m. and I am triggered to take a nap
  • Emotional State – I am hurt and I am triggered to eat a whole bag of M&Ms
  • Other People – I see my doctor and I am reminded to take my prescriptions
  • Immediately preceding action – I just finished dinner and I am triggered to wash the dishes

What habit do you want to develop in photography?

Maybe it is working on your photography every day, learning something new, or starting a new photography project. Here’s how the cue, routine, reward loop would look:

a. CUE: Determine whether the cue will be a location, time, or an action, such as seeing the camera

b. ROUTINE: Decide what action you want to do. Maybe it is working on a one-photo-a day project with only a 50mm lens. If so, the routine could be to pick up your camera and take a photo using a 50 mm lens.

c. REWARD: The reward could be the thrill of the adventure and challenge, or the satisfaction of developing your portfolio.

What is it that makes a habit stick or not stick?

Once you’ve figured out your habit loop—CUE, ROUTINE, REWARD—you’ve identified the reward driving your behavior, the cue triggering it, and the routine itself—you can begin to shift the behavior. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue, and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving. What you need is a plan, and you need to believe in the plan and work the plan.