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10 Tips To Get Over Photographer’s Block

Going through a creative rut can be frustrating, and sometimes scary, but it is usually temporary. Photographer’s block can happen to you at any time. It’s up to you to turn it into a positive experience and grow in the process.

Get lost on purpose! Don’t think about what you are going to shoot, just get out with your camera. Something will trigger your photographic eye along the way.

Get lost on purpose! Grab your camera with no goal in mind and you will soon see something that triggers your photographic eye.

1-Push yourself, take risks and make mistakes.

The saying is not that we learn from our successes, but that we learn from our mistakes! Experiment with different techniques and genres and don’t be afraid to fail.

2-Get out of your comfort zone.

Try something that seems completely out of character for you. If you are a rather shy person, go out and shoot some street photography or make street portraits of strangers! You never know whether you are going to love it or hate it until you try it.

3-Spend time with other photographers.

More often than not, we are the only ‘photography nut’ in our family. It can be very frustrating at times but we cannot force others to love the craft as much as we do. As long as your family is supportive of your passion, don’t expect them to share your excitement every time you see something that turns you on photographically. Get together with other photographers by joining or creating a photo walk group in your area. You will get your fix and grow as a photographer by seeing and learning something new with each outing.

4-Take a class.

Whether it is in a physical classroom or online, taking a photography class can help you get your groove back. Participating in a workshop, whether it’s a day long in your hometown or a week-long adventure in an exotic location, will definitely help motivate you.

5-Seek inspiration.

Visit museums and art galleries. Look at photography and other art forms such as paintings and sculptures. Pick up a large book of photographs from artists you’ve long admired and slowly page through it, paying attention to the composition, light and story. Look at the work of emerging artists on line. The goal is to immerse yourself in something beautiful.

6-Become a mentor.

Go out with someone who just picked up a camera and help them get started. I can guarantee you that sharing your love for photography and technical knowledge with someone who is just learning will rekindle your creativity. You will learn something in the process and feel really good about yourself.

7-Get lost on purpose!

Don’t think about what you are going to shoot, just get out with your camera. Something will trigger your photographic eye along the way.

8-Pick a theme.

It may be as simple as photographing the color yellow, reflections in puddles or people walking their dogs. Leaving the house with a theme in mind will keep you focussed and turn your photo walk into a treasure hunt.

9-Start a project.

Commit yourself to a long term project such as a 52-week project or a series of self portraits. Get extra motivation by doing it as part of a group via your favorite social media platform.

10-Try new gear!

Borrow or rent a new lens for a weekend. Try something fun like shooting with a fish eye lens or a tilt-shift. Easier yet, you can experiment with a camera phone and fun Apps!

Conclusion

It’s okay to take a little break too! Remember that creativity is a process, not a result. A creative block is not something to fear. It is part of being an artist.

Please share your experience with the readers of Digital Photography School. Thanks!

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Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. I am pleased to be a new master of street photography at The Arcanum. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Google+.

  • http://celebratelifewithsherristone.wordpress.com Sherri Stone

    This post was great timing for me! I have felt like I was in a slump after being cooped up for a week or so. Today I drove to a few places that I had flagged before and feel happy with my experience. I’m not one for pressuring myself but grab the camera when I feel the urge. It’s more often than not:-) I’m bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks!

  • Richard

    timely reminder, I and some others that I know have been in this spot for a while now. Some ideas to try. Thanks.

  • ccting

    a friend of mine who was a photographer found died after taking risk and made his fatal mistake…..

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula

    I agree with spending time with other photographers. Recently did that and it works wonders.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2013/03/wish-you-a-very-happy-holi.html

  • http://www.valeriejardinphotography.com Valérie Jardin

    @ccting I think you may have misunderstood #1. By taking is risk here is implied trying new things, new genres and techniques in order to grow as a photographer even if you fail. Many people keep photographing what they know without ever learning new things because they are afraid of the unknown and think they may not get the results they are hoping for. Although some may never get bored with it, others may soon find themselves in a creative rut and miss on other opportunities.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/evergreen1949 Ken Morrocco

    WIth regard to “10 Tips to Get Over Photographers Block”

    Shooting street scenes is fun and rewarding. BUT, be careful. There are people out there who are less than enthusiastic about getting their photos taken by strangers.
    Sometime homeless folks can be down right nasty. I got chased by a guy while he was yelling obscenities at me. LOL Be careful of taking photos of couples. The couple you see may be having a “secret” relationship, and if they see someone taking their photos they may not like it. It’s best to ask, but then you kind of loose the spontaneity of the shot. AND, if you are a man, and you take innocent photos of children at play……look out. There are all kinds of perverts out there and, these days, you will be placed in the lowest category just because of the way it “looks”. You may have the best of intentions, but parents and other people may not view you in that light. Be careful or you may be approached by angry parents, or even law enforcement. Just in case you do get questioned, cooperate. Have ID ready. Be calm, and if you are told to leave…..LEAVE. I speak from experienceJust my two cents worth.

  • Steve Welch

    Greetings from the middle east. I’m presently here working for a civilian contractor. I recently purchased a new Pentax K-30 SLR Digital Camera and I’m excited about it. It’s my first real camera. Lol, honestly, I have no idea how to use it yet. But, I most certainly want to learn everything I can about it and taking some incredible pictures. I am just starting out so I know I’ll probably make a ton of mistakes along the process. Feel free to give me feedback. Thank you and Semper Fi…..

  • jollyjocky

    street photography, ? better than the tv .

  • Marigold

    I’ve always been in nature growing up be it on a farm or by the beach. So when I moved to the city I got photography block because all I could see was cement and filth. I went overseas to visit my brother in Vancouver and again wasn’t taking photos, getting closer and closer to my time of departure. I thought to myself ‘if I left here without taking any photos, what would I be most upset that I hadn’t captured?’ It was all the drug addicts. Then my next delama, ‘how do I get them to open up to me without giving them money?’. I bought a packet of cigaretts and hung them out of my jeans pocket and when they asked me for a cigarette I asked them for a photo in return. Not only did I get a photo, I got so many wonderful stories, they each let me in for 5 minutes, some even bringing over others for a photo! It turned out to be one of my best shoots ever, still to this day. I have to admit walking through that neighbour hood as a young woman with expensive gear for 5 hours was also very scary so this is not recommended for everyone, but overcoming my fear just made it all the more rewarding!

  • Lucien H. Chin A Foeng

    Ken Morrocco definitely has a point in his remarks about angry or suspicious people. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so look out! One solution might be very well to use a front lens attachment with a 45 degree mirror. No one will notice what you’re doing as the camera is not pointed at them! Works wonders! And your tips to get over a photographer’s ‘block’ are bull’s eye, every one of them! Good going, guys!

  • http://randymckown.com Randy McKown

    I always found the best thing was to just grab your camera and start shooting … open your eyes and you can shoot all day without moving over 20 feet from wherever you are …. of course that’s kinda boring. LOL

  • Scottc

    All great tips! I’ve tried #9 and found it to be difficult to keep up with an on-line project. The subjects (or themes) can be tough to work with when someone else is choosing them but many photographers do well with them.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/sets/72157626199404744/

  • http://www.gstest.com/ GS test

    10 Tips To Get Over Photographer’s Block

  • http://www.guigphotography.com Guigphotography

    Simple and effective tips. I’ve learned much from some of these, especially 6 & 9, though it was by being a bit more intrusive than normal (not so much being shy as getting in among the action) that got me the following shot. Thanks Valerie!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/69604456@N07/8549739520/in/photostream

  • Jim Winters

    Lots of great ideas here Valerie!

    Yeah got to watch those street weirdos!!! I’d also add joining a local camera club or group.
    Taking part in a 365 is a challenge (this is about the time I think most peope start to run out of ideas!), but a good way to try to keep inspired for sure. Or a 52 if you dont think you can handle the daily.
    Not sure if you’ve tried the photography assignment apps on the appstore, but I have them and they are great for ideas and keeping inspired!
    tons of assignments, and it will give you a daily reminder to get one.
    good info for beginners, great example images.
    Also have a lot of great random types of assignments-objects to photograph, combinations, and also scavenger hunt lists(a really fun thing to do!)
    Even the free versions have lots to get you going.
    They are all on the app store here: http://www.appstore.com/noelchenier

    Jim

  • kurt dreas

    I shoot for publication, ( being a professional ). If I were to shoot “street people” and did not get a release, my editors would laugh me out of the office. Also, I might add, more than a few “street people” also are keen of selling your cameras & lenses, for drug money. And they almost always NEVER ask for your equipment to sell. So you should have a ( mininum) a monopod, as a weapon — if needed.

    Perhaps if you shoot people in another country, it’s more easily published, in this country. Re: National Geographics “Afgan Girl”, by Mike(?) Curry.

    It’s probably best to have at least one other person with you, and if you ever set your camera bag down, wrap the strap around your leg or a leg on your tripod. (Or hang it from the center of your tripod). Always be aware of who is behind you, especially when looking through your viewfinder.

    A bag that may be a dark color, or not look like a camera bag, could be useful too. A tripod is a bad tipoff, but if it’s not aluminum, like anodized black metal, is less noticeble.

  • http://blog.ramboruiz.com/ Rambo Ruiz

    Awesome tips Valerie specially #8 :) You just helped me a ton.

    Cheers!

Some older comments

  • kurt dreas

    April 6, 2013 04:56 pm

    I shoot for publication, ( being a professional ). If I were to shoot "street people" and did not get a release, my editors would laugh me out of the office. Also, I might add, more than a few "street people" also are keen of selling your cameras & lenses, for drug money. And they almost always NEVER ask for your equipment to sell. So you should have a ( mininum) a monopod, as a weapon -- if needed.

    Perhaps if you shoot people in another country, it's more easily published, in this country. Re: National Geographics "Afgan Girl", by Mike(?) Curry.

    It's probably best to have at least one other person with you, and if you ever set your camera bag down, wrap the strap around your leg or a leg on your tripod. (Or hang it from the center of your tripod). Always be aware of who is behind you, especially when looking through your viewfinder.

    A bag that may be a dark color, or not look like a camera bag, could be useful too. A tripod is a bad tipoff, but if it's not aluminum, like anodized black metal, is less noticeble.

  • Jim Winters

    April 4, 2013 03:29 am

    Lots of great ideas here Valerie!

    Yeah got to watch those street weirdos!!! I'd also add joining a local camera club or group.
    Taking part in a 365 is a challenge (this is about the time I think most peope start to run out of ideas!), but a good way to try to keep inspired for sure. Or a 52 if you dont think you can handle the daily.
    Not sure if you've tried the photography assignment apps on the appstore, but I have them and they are great for ideas and keeping inspired!
    tons of assignments, and it will give you a daily reminder to get one.
    good info for beginners, great example images.
    Also have a lot of great random types of assignments-objects to photograph, combinations, and also scavenger hunt lists(a really fun thing to do!)
    Even the free versions have lots to get you going.
    They are all on the app store here: www.appstore.com/noelchenier

    Jim

  • Guigphotography

    April 3, 2013 03:38 am

    Simple and effective tips. I've learned much from some of these, especially 6 & 9, though it was by being a bit more intrusive than normal (not so much being shy as getting in among the action) that got me the following shot. Thanks Valerie!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/69604456@N07/8549739520/in/photostream

  • GS test

    April 1, 2013 02:28 am

    10 Tips To Get Over Photographer’s Block

  • Scottc

    March 31, 2013 10:43 pm

    All great tips! I've tried #9 and found it to be difficult to keep up with an on-line project. The subjects (or themes) can be tough to work with when someone else is choosing them but many photographers do well with them.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/sets/72157626199404744/

  • Randy McKown

    March 31, 2013 06:55 pm

    I always found the best thing was to just grab your camera and start shooting ... open your eyes and you can shoot all day without moving over 20 feet from wherever you are .... of course that's kinda boring. LOL

  • Lucien H. Chin A Foeng

    March 29, 2013 12:00 pm

    Ken Morrocco definitely has a point in his remarks about angry or suspicious people. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, so look out! One solution might be very well to use a front lens attachment with a 45 degree mirror. No one will notice what you're doing as the camera is not pointed at them! Works wonders! And your tips to get over a photographer's 'block' are bull's eye, every one of them! Good going, guys!

  • Marigold

    March 29, 2013 09:15 am

    I've always been in nature growing up be it on a farm or by the beach. So when I moved to the city I got photography block because all I could see was cement and filth. I went overseas to visit my brother in Vancouver and again wasn't taking photos, getting closer and closer to my time of departure. I thought to myself 'if I left here without taking any photos, what would I be most upset that I hadn't captured?' It was all the drug addicts. Then my next delama, 'how do I get them to open up to me without giving them money?'. I bought a packet of cigaretts and hung them out of my jeans pocket and when they asked me for a cigarette I asked them for a photo in return. Not only did I get a photo, I got so many wonderful stories, they each let me in for 5 minutes, some even bringing over others for a photo! It turned out to be one of my best shoots ever, still to this day. I have to admit walking through that neighbour hood as a young woman with expensive gear for 5 hours was also very scary so this is not recommended for everyone, but overcoming my fear just made it all the more rewarding!

  • jollyjocky

    March 29, 2013 04:28 am

    street photography, ? better than the tv .

  • Steve Welch

    March 29, 2013 01:56 am

    Greetings from the middle east. I'm presently here working for a civilian contractor. I recently purchased a new Pentax K-30 SLR Digital Camera and I'm excited about it. It's my first real camera. Lol, honestly, I have no idea how to use it yet. But, I most certainly want to learn everything I can about it and taking some incredible pictures. I am just starting out so I know I'll probably make a ton of mistakes along the process. Feel free to give me feedback. Thank you and Semper Fi.....

  • Ken Morrocco

    March 29, 2013 01:07 am

    WIth regard to "10 Tips to Get Over Photographers Block"

    Shooting street scenes is fun and rewarding. BUT, be careful. There are people out there who are less than enthusiastic about getting their photos taken by strangers.
    Sometime homeless folks can be down right nasty. I got chased by a guy while he was yelling obscenities at me. LOL Be careful of taking photos of couples. The couple you see may be having a "secret" relationship, and if they see someone taking their photos they may not like it. It's best to ask, but then you kind of loose the spontaneity of the shot. AND, if you are a man, and you take innocent photos of children at play......look out. There are all kinds of perverts out there and, these days, you will be placed in the lowest category just because of the way it "looks". You may have the best of intentions, but parents and other people may not view you in that light. Be careful or you may be approached by angry parents, or even law enforcement. Just in case you do get questioned, cooperate. Have ID ready. Be calm, and if you are told to leave.....LEAVE. I speak from experienceJust my two cents worth.

  • Valérie Jardin

    March 28, 2013 11:01 pm

    @ccting I think you may have misunderstood #1. By taking is risk here is implied trying new things, new genres and techniques in order to grow as a photographer even if you fail. Many people keep photographing what they know without ever learning new things because they are afraid of the unknown and think they may not get the results they are hoping for. Although some may never get bored with it, others may soon find themselves in a creative rut and miss on other opportunities.

  • Mridula

    March 28, 2013 07:58 pm

    I agree with spending time with other photographers. Recently did that and it works wonders.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2013/03/wish-you-a-very-happy-holi.html

  • ccting

    March 28, 2013 07:07 pm

    a friend of mine who was a photographer found died after taking risk and made his fatal mistake.....

  • Richard

    March 28, 2013 12:33 pm

    timely reminder, I and some others that I know have been in this spot for a while now. Some ideas to try. Thanks.

  • Sherri Stone

    March 28, 2013 10:39 am

    This post was great timing for me! I have felt like I was in a slump after being cooped up for a week or so. Today I drove to a few places that I had flagged before and feel happy with my experience. I'm not one for pressuring myself but grab the camera when I feel the urge. It's more often than not:-) I'm bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks!

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