How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

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Here are four steps to rebooting your creativity and desire to do more photography with some 15-minute simple exercises.

Have you lost your photography mojo?

I get it, you’ve been at work all day, and it’s been stressful. Maybe there are kids to look after and dinner to cook as well. Perhaps a dog to take for a run or a family dinner to attend. There are all kinds of reasons why you don’t have the time or energy to pick up your camera and shoot.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

When we don’t want to do something, we focus on all the reasons why it’s too hard – it takes too long to drive somewhere, the light is wrong, it’s raining, the battery is flat and so on. It’s easy to tell ourselves a story that allows us to talk our way out of doing something, especially when there aren’t any major consequences. Don’t get up early in the morning and miss the spectacular sunrise? Life goes on.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

But the longer you leave your camera sitting in its bag gathering dust, the easier it becomes to talk yourself out of picking it up again. Months or even years go by. Maybe you think about it now and then and feel a niggling guilt or just sad.

Well, there is good news. With a small amount of effort, you can take steps to reboot your creativity and enthusiasm for photography again.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

A shiny copper coin on a piece of black cardboard and a macro lens. Simple as (of course I have a macro lens!) can be.

Four Simple Steps

So here are the four simple steps I promised earlier.

Step One – PREPARE

Get your gear out, clean it, and charge the batteries. Check that it’s all still working and present. Wipe the memory cards clean.

Do everything you need to do in order to have your gear in peak working condition so you can grab it and go. The trick here is to remove the first mental block stopping you from shooting. If your gear is all prepped, then you don’t have anything stopping you there.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

A marble I found walking on the beach on a piece of white fabric. Shot on a craft table in my spare room with natural window light.

Step Two – ASSEMBLE

Keep it simple and find some space at home where you can shoot. Work with objects you have at hand. Put together a small still life studio, maybe using window light or a flash, whatever you have nearby.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

An assortment of props that I have assembled for my still life photography. Note the neutral color tones and mostly matte finish. That piece of slate gets used a lot.

By keeping it close to home and working with what you have close at hand, this removes the mental block about having to go out, needing to take the time, or spending more money. Making a small still life studio doesn’t need much, a neutral background and a base surface, some light and shadow and you are done.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

A bunch of white stock, wrapped in white fabric, with a window draped in a white curtain in the background. Simple and cheap and you can use white fabric for so many things.

Having something quick and easy to put together (maybe a couple of sheets of white cardboard or foam core) that you can easily store out of the way reduces the resistance to setting up a shoot. Even better if you can leave it set up for a few days while working on this project.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

My studio is a craft table, covered in white cotton, a window draped in white fabric, and neutral walls.

Step Three – TAKE 15 minutes

No one has enough time in the day, there are always things to do, places to be, demands on our time. However, for this exercise, I challenge you to give yourself a calendar appointment every day for a week. When you get home from work, instead of sitting down in front of the TV, or immersing yourself in social media or whatever it is you do to chill out, instead make a date with your camera.

If you have done Step One and Two, you have everything you need in place but the hardest is Step Three. Give yourself permission to take just 15 minutes out of your day and shoot. This length of time is long enough to be able to create some images but not so long it will interfere with your day too much. Let’s face it, by the time you make yourself a coffee and drink it, that probably takes just as long.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

A wooden board and scoop and some chocolate chips. Yum!

Here is the really critical thing – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!  In fact, it will be really hard for the first couple of days. The point of this exercise is for you to have your camera in your hands again, and to get you shooting something, anything.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

Half a lemon on a wooden board and a macro lens. Simple and clean and vibrant yellow.

Step Four – PERSEVERE

If it has been a while since you’ve done any photography, you will probably find this quite hard. Shooting still life isn’t everyone’s cup of tea either but it is the simplest combination of factors to get you up and going. Maybe you decide to shoot the same item in different ways or using different lighting. It doesn’t matter. No one else needs to ever see these images, you just need to do it.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

Pomegranate on my favorite slate slab. Gorgeous color, via the window in my studio. My studio is a spare bedroom.

Maybe you decide to shoot all the different kinds of cutlery and utensils in the house. You could do close-ups of labels on wine bottles. Maybe you have some smooth white eggs and one brown freckled one. Or maybe you make up a bowl of ice cream and pour chocolate sauce and sprinkles on it.

Your cat or dog is asleep in the sun and you do close-ups of their noses or paws. Maybe your kids are building something random with Lego. Maybe there are some flowers in the garden or some stones found on the footpath. If you have a macro lens or setting you can experiment with things up close and abstract. Maybe you go for a walk around the block or to the park instead.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

Eggs in a crate with a feather that came along for the ride on a table draped in white linen.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter so long as you take the time to point your camera at it and take time to do it every day for a week – seven days.

By setting yourself both an achievable goal and a reasonable limit, it is easier to trick your brain into saying, “Okay we can do this” instead of thinking,”Oh this is just too hard”.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

I found this gorgeous lime green viburnum out on a walk. The house owner kindly let me pick a bunch to take home when I asked nicely.

Summary

The point of this exercise is simple, get your camera in your hands and get in the habit of shooting again. More importantly, it also helps overcome the mental blocks you put in place when you think something is too hard or will take too long. This puts some structure in place and makes it easy for you to allocate a small achievable time slot every day to just shoot, and not care about the outcome. Just the fact you are shooting is what’s really important.

It doesn’t really matter if you follow the framework laid out here, or do something completely different, so long as you take some time every day for a period and commit to picking up your camera and shooting.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

Perhaps it helps you to share your process with a friend or via social media. You might choose to set a goal of posting one image a day for a week and let your friends know so that if you miss a day they can hold you accountable.

However you do it, in whatever way works for you, go through the steps, and set yourself up to be as prepared as possible. Make the commitment in your mind of “just 15 minutes” and see what happens…I bet you spend a lot longer and have more fun than you expect.

Once you overcome the inertia of sitting on the sofa, the challenge and fun of creating a composition in a small time frame begins to bubble up again.

How to Reboot Your Creativity with 15-Minute Exercises

A couple of years ago I undertook a 21 Days of Creativity course, which laid out steps to remove distractions from our lives, prepare both our physical and mental spaces, clean out the cobwebs and make creating a fun and easy thing to do, rather than a chore. This “15 Minutes A Day” exercise was the most valuable step I got out of the course. I shot every day for a month, as after the first week I was enjoying the challenge too much to let it go. Plus the added bonus of making some really good and fun images, several of which I have included in this article.

Once you have done the preparation, got your gear sorted, and a space to work in, the only thing you have to do, is pick up your camera and shoot. Just for 15 minutes.

Go on, give it a try, I dare you.

I shot dandelions for about two weeks. Every day I had the challenge of shooting the same tiny subject in new and interesting ways.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Stacey Hill invested in her first DSLR back in 2007. While having many adventures out and about in the South Island of New Zealand, Stacey took to blogging about her experiences learning photography. Recently she discovered the fun and creative possibilities to be had with Photoshop. She can be found having an opinion all over the place here.

  • Donna J

    Fantastic Stacey, love this! Thank you!

  • SueWsie Wils

    Just what I need. Bad weather and injury have left me not getting my camera out for 3 months. I can do 15 minutes a day indoors without causing any problems. Perfect timing!

  • Stacey

    I had 2 months off after a major surgery and couldnt drive and wasnt sposed to lift any thing heavy. So putting the camera on a tripod and shooting still life in my studio was the best alternative. It got me started on this path so I hope you get some joy out of this 🙂 Good luck!

  • Stacey

    Delighted!

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  • Trev

    Exactly what I needed. Have been away from the camera for ages due to many work commitments. Thanks Stacey.

  • Lj

    Great article, Stacey! You’re right about taking out your gear and cleaning it. That kind of gets you excited to shoot as soon as your stuff is cleaned up. As simple as that.., right?! Lj
    http://www.louisjosephphotography.com.

  • Stacey

    Yes it is as simple as that, when you take away all the excuses for NOT shooting, then mentally its easier to just do it 🙂

  • Stacey

    Trev I totally understand – I had a major event that happened last year, and I think my camera sat unused between Xmas and Easter – 4 months!

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