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11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks in Your Photography

11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks in Your Photography

Many artists sometimes face a lull in their production of new works or continuation of existing works due to a “creative block”. They often will find it difficult to conjure up an idea to work on a new piece or to even finish a piece they’ve already started. Photographers are not immune to the dilemma of a creative block either. You may oftentimes feel like you have photographed everything or you’re just not motivated to even pick up your camera because you feel like you’re out of ideas on what to shoot.

Trying a new perspective.

 

It can feel like the end of the world (or at the very least, your art career) when this occurs, but alas, there is hope! Below are ten tips that have worked for me in the past – both, as an artist and as photographer – to help overcome a creative block and to help get you back on track to create more new and extraordinary images.

 

  1. Assign Yourself a Photo Project. There are numerous books as well as articles on the web that are devoted to daily, weekly and monthly photography project ideas for photographers to aid them in getting their creative juices flowing again.

A few photo project books that have gotten me through some creative blocks.

 

Some examples might be:

 

  • Shooting a monochromatic theme for one week straight. This helps you to become more aware of your surroundings by looking for things that are one specific color.

 

  • Taking a photo walk and shooting with only one prime lens (a 50mm is a good example). This also helps you learn to zoom with your feet and experiment with different angles to capture a subject.

 

  • Shooting one self-portrait a day. Each self-portrait has to be different, which forces you to dig into the deep crevices of your mind to come up with a new way to shoot a portrait of yourself every day for a week, month or even a year.

 

  1. Shooting the Same Subject 100 Different Ways. Lock yourself in a room for an hour or two and assign yourself an object in the room to shoot 100 different ways. You do not necessarily have to restrict yourself to just a room, so long as you do restrict yourself to one object.

Just 5 ways I shot the same subject in a 10 minute period.

 

  1. Photograph Something Previously Captured From a New Perspective. You may feel like you already captured a great image of an object or place, but a good exercise to get the juices flowing again is to photograph something you photographed previously, but from a completely different perspective.

The Colosseum in Rome the traditional way (left) and captured from a different perspective (right).

 

Monet spent much of his life painting the Notre Dame over and over, at different times of the day, with different lighting circumstances and from different perspectives.

The Atomium photographed the typical way (left) and at a different perspective (right).

 

Photographing an object or scene in the same manner can be just as therapeutic and  rewarding and might just be what you need to get through a creative block.

 

  1. Shoot Anything. Take a photo walk and shoot anything, even if it doesn’t interest you. You don’t even need to leave the house, if you choose. Shoot random things around your home. As long as you are shooting something, you are getting your juices flowing and this is a great first step on the road to recovery.

Shoot anything, whether it does or doesn’t interest you.

 

  1. Experiment with new media. Try drawing or painting one of your photographs. I very often will take my charcoal pencils out and draw one of my photographs.

My photograph of the pelican on the pier (left) and my drawing from that photograph (right).

 

Even if you feel like you can’t draw, attempting to draw or paint a still object or scene from a photograph is a great way to try to beat a creative block.

My photograph of a scene in Eze, France (left) and my drawing from that photograph (right).

 

Flirting with other art mediums can not only assist in getting the creative juices flowing again, but you may find you like practicing in a new type of art!

 

  1. Study the Great Masters and Try to Emulate Their Work Adding Your Own Twist. Research the great masters of photography and study their works as well as other photographers’ works. Try shooting in their style and form, possibly even trying to replicate one of their photographs, but adding your own twist. By emulating the works of photographers that are of interest to you, you find yourself newly inspired and developing and/or practicing new techniques that you didn’t  know before.

 

  1. Look To Magazines, Books and Other Media for Inspiration. Along the lines of studying the masters and other photographers’ works, look through your favorite magazines for inspiration and new ideas. Other forms of art can also be just as inspiring and motivating to cause a boost in your creative juices.

Look through magazines and other media for inspiration.

 

Things such as a good song, a movie, a tv show, a work of art or even a good book can help generate new ideas for things such as still life sets or portrait or fashion sets to create and shoot, destinations for photo walks, interesting lighting techniques and much more.

 

  1. Start an Art Journal. An art journal can be a great tool to start not only for artists, but for photographers as well. Keeping a small notebook with you at all times can come in handy for jotting down that fleeting idea that you might have during the day (or night) that you may forget after 10 minutes otherwise. Art journals can also serve as a place to create sketches of things like wardrobe ideas you would like to shoot, recording lists and descriptions of things and/or places to shoot and much more.

An art journal can be a great tool and record to save you when you goes through those times of a creative block.

 

An art journal can serve as a record of your thoughts and ideas – something you can refer back to during those times when you might have a creative block.

 

  1. Take a Photography Class. There’s nothing more motivating to get you shooting again than taking a photography workshop. Taking a workshop can force you to shoot, to learn new techniques and to share different visions with fellow photography students. A photography class also forces you to produce work in a more structured environment. You might find that the exercises and assignments that a photography instructor might give you helps to open that creative door again.

 

  1. Participate in a Photo Contest. Sometimes a photo contest can be all it takes to get your head back in the creative game when shooting, especially when there is some type of incentive involved.

Competing in a photo contest can help get you motivated to produce, especially when there’s a theme.

 

Many photo contests and competitions are based on a theme, such as “best travel destination” photo or a “show us your pet” photo contest. Since the actual “what” to shoot is already decided for you, it’s only up to you to determine how to shoot it. Any time you pick up your camera, you are allowing yourself a chance to jumpstart your creative juices. Participating in a photo competition can not only get you shooting again, but may also yield you some type of reward!

 

  1. Have patience. Creative blocks are not the end of the world. They are just a small bump in the road to becoming a better, more creative photographer. Creative blocks can provide you with opportunities to look at other works and try new techniques granting you continued education, practice and production. Have patience. Don’t look at a creative block as an obstacle, but as part of the creative journey.
Posted by Dawn Wayand in Workshop, 0 comments