Lost your Photo Mojo? Ten Tips to Bring Back the Magic

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We all go through creative blocks. Is it such a bad thing? Or, on the contrary, is it a sign that we need to push ourselves, and grow in the process? I think that a loss of passion may be an opportunity to renew and refresh your vision and turn it in a positive experience, instead of staying in a rut and feeling sorry for yourself.

Ten Tips to Get your Photo Mojo Back

1 – Get out of your comfort zone

You may hear this one often, but have you done it yet? I’m not suggesting that you go out and shoot your first wedding, but try something that may seem out of character for you. I consider myself more of an urban photographer than anything else. But I have experimented with other genres, such as B&W flower photography. Did I enjoy it? Sure I did, tremendously! But I also realized that I’m happier shooting street photography. That realization alone gave me a boost to get out and do more of what I love most.

I'm mostly a street photographer but I enjoy trying new genres and techniques. It gets my creative juices flowing! ©Valérie Jardin

I’m mostly a street photographer but I enjoy trying new genres and techniques. It gets my creative juices flowing!
©Valérie Jardin

2 – Hang out with other photographers

Hanging out with like minded people is like therapy. Admit it, you often experience some frustration when you are on an outing with non-photographers. Being able to enjoy a photo walk without having to justify why you need to take your time to get the shot is priceless. Join a group or start your own. The latter option is a good way to make sure that you will show up for all the photo walks!

3- Start a new project

Before you embark on a long project, make sure you’ll be able to handle the commitment. For example, a 365 project is a great way to grow as a photographer but it can also become a burden and be counterproductive. If you end up quitting after a few weeks, you may end up feeling worse about yourself and photography in general. If you decide to go for the 365, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t get to the point where you’ll shoot just about anything to get your pic of the day. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! You may also consider starting something a little bit more manageable such as a 52-week project, a short term photo essay, a series of portraits of strangers or selfies, etc. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you share with the world! Which leads to the next point…

Some project ideas to help you out

Don't forget that you are your most readily available subject. Have fun with selfies! Here I played with long exposures and ghost images in an old theater.  ©Valérie Jardin

Don’t forget that you are your most readily available subject. Have fun with selfies! Here I played with long exposures and ghost images in an old theater.
©Valérie Jardin

4 – Try a new lens

Rent or borrow something completely different such as a fish eye, a macro lens or a Lensbaby Composer for a few days, see the world differently and embrace the new possibilities.

See a list of the most popular lenses – survey of dPS readers

5 – Share your work, start a blog!

Share your work on social media, or consider starting a photography blog. You don’t need to be a writer to start a photography blog, think of it as a journal in pictures. It’s so much more fun than keeping your images in your hard drive. It will also give you a boost in your confidence and push you to shoot more and better.

This is my personal blog where I write about projects and things I'm working on outside of my photography business.

This is my personal blog where I write about projects and things I’m working on outside of my photography business.

You can get a free, or inexpensive blog using resources like:

6 – Page through a good photography book

We get inspiration online all the time. Everything we do seems to be online. The Internet is a wonderful thing and we are exposed to the work of so many amazing artists from all over the world and in real time. Sometimes we need to slow down and sit down with a big beautiful book of photographs. Visit a real book store or a library for a change of pace and for renewed inspiration.

Valerie Jardin Photography - books-1

Take the time to page through a real book once in a while.

7 – Visit museums

Photography exhibits are a wonderful way to get some inspiration, but do not neglect looking at art in general. Sculptures, paintings, etc. See the passion that fueled the works of art showcased at your local museum.

8 – Teach a child

Give a camera to a child and go on a photo walk. You’ll be amazed to discover the world from a child’s perspective. Better yet, this could ignite a life-long passion thanks to you!

9 – Write a list of techniques you’ve never tried and give it a shot!

There isn’t a single technique that is not explained in detail online, so you have no excuse for not experimenting with something new. You never know, this light painting thing may just be what you need to feel inspired again, so get to work!

10 – Simply pick up your camera and photograph something in your house

There is no reason to stay in a rut, all you need to do is pick up a camera, any camera. You can even stay home and do it. Pick an ordinary object and make it look extraordinary! This simple step will get the creative juices flowing again.

Just pick up the camera and photograph something, anything, around your house!  ©Valérie Jardin

Just pick up the camera and photograph something, anything, around your house!
©Valérie Jardin

Okay it’s your turn

It’s okay to feel down and uninspired, it’s all part of being an artist. Turn it around and use it as an excuse to push yourself and try something new!

Please take a minute to share your experience dealing with creative block and how you found your muse again.


Books mentioned above and in Valerie’s stack:

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Valerie Jardin I live and breathe in pixels! Photography is more than a passion, it's an obsession, almost an addiction. When I'm not shooting or writing, I spend my time teaching this beautiful craft during photo workshops all over the world! I am also thrilled to be an official X Photographer for Fujifilm USA. Visit my Website Follow me on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram. And listen to my Podcast!

  • pguyton

    great article, I’d also add get involved with your community – go to local events and shoot them for fun – maybe blog them like you said afterwards. I’ve found that people love having someone come photograph an event – by helping with a local event facebook page I’ve basically gotten a free pass to get into anything I want in my local area and it’s totally invigorated my photography. I’ve even gotten into shooting a little minor league games from the sidelines – not my normal genre but loads of fun

  • I wish it was that easy for me to just do it. 🙁 Whenever I pick up a camera it reminds me of certain somebody……….who’m funny enough… did the dirty on me …. been almost 2 years now….even when I force myself to get out there… the creative juice is just non existence…. sucks to have the same interest with your flare…. but I am still trying

  • For me it would be finding time and doing something at night as that is when I come back from work http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Raghavendra

    I started taking pictures of puppy and sun rise.Thought of experimenting and having a new experience. This weekend went to the war cemetery where 600 brave souls have died in the first and second world war.

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.in/2014/01/madras-war-cemetery.html

  • Barb

    Don’t CHOOSE to let that person take something away from you another minute! This is YOUR year to put it behind you and move on! Shoot away my friend!

  • John

    Great idea is to teach a child. If I may suggest, try teaching the photography merit badge to a group of boy scouts. I’ve been shooting photos for a long long time and I learned new stuff. It worked for me plus I got a couple nights of free camping out of it. Lots and lots of fun!

  • Lorri A

    Hey Jojie, don’t let their similar interest put you off. Man, if that was me I’d be out there even more often, to PROVE I’m a better photog that the ex – just sayin’ LOL.

  • ColininOz

    Valerie – Your suggestion #6 – I find the most inspirational pot pouri of excellent images, black and white naturally, in a dog -eared old book published in 1955. when it cost me. new, $1 !

    “The Family of Man” published by Maco Magazine Corp for the NY Museum of Modern Art after the exhibition of the same name. If you can lay your hands on a copy grab it. I got my first 35mm camera that year – a Voigtlander Vito B – and learned a lot from this book. Still do now nearly sixty years later. If I lose inspiration, or what is today called ‘Mojo’ , it never fails to set me off on some tangent or other.

  • KaChieek

    Jojie. That’s their problem. Like Lorri said, prove you’re better!

  • Cydnie M

    I recently retired and started my own photography business. Set up a website, solicited friends that I had done events for etc. I did my first formal photo shoot in my basement studio for a couple that was expecting. They were pleased with the photos. They said that they would call when the baby is born to do follow up newborn session. The baby is born and no call. I have left voicemail, email, text but no return. This has left me feeling very down with no confidence. I feel stuck. I don’t know if I’m cut out to make money at something I love to do as a hobby.

  • DrKoob

    I’ve done 365 projects twice (2008 & 2011) but they get lonely. Last year started a 7/52 project, online with 8 other photographers. We pledged to take 7 pics a week for 52 weeks. 6 of us did every week. It was a superb project and it was great having people from multiple US states and foreign countries. We have decided to do it again with some of us doing 7/52 and others 7/12. Those doing the monthly are working on a theme. We all post on differing photo sites but have a central site where we are linked. We all comment on each others pics. We have all grown so much. So even if you don’t have anyone nearby to shoot with, this kind of a project can really be a motivator. You can see our stuff at http://www.koobraey.com/752-14/

  • Thanks guys. I am trying to. I keep saying to myself the very same things. They are merely influences, it is “me”, the only person who can change that. I am trying to. You guys are right though, I should just get out of my comfort zone and just do it… maybe even as if I’m starting from scratch so to speak. Thanks for the boosts!

  • There could be 101 reasons they haven’t returned your call. They could have had the best intentions and the arrival of the baby and everything that comes with that would came first. They could have made other plans. They may call you later, but the more you leave messages, the more they are likely to back off. The point is you cannot build your hope for a business on one person or experience or event. If you truly believe you want your photography to be a business it will take planning, building your portfolio, finding other clients, and learning to market yourself – and yes, finding ways to remain inspired and resilient, because getting rejection comes with the territory, but it’s hardly ever personal. It’s the same for any business and there is no short cut. But you can’t let one negative experience keep you in a rut. One other thing you could do is find a community of photographers who are in business too – support each other. I am sure you will be inspired.

  • Jeannie G

    Great tips! I have been feeling like I am getting worse at this instead of better. Does anyone else ever feel that way? I have done 2 years of 365 but not sure what I will do this year. It is more of a hobby for me but I would like to get better and I think these suggestions are great.

  • Sherry Lea

    Thanks Valerie, this are all great points as I find I can get ‘stuck’ quite easily. I have started my first 365 Grateful Project this year, I have started off well but feel quite daunted by the thought of the rest of the 353 days. I know these tips will help!!

    http://www.sherryleaphotography.com/365-grateful-project

  • Pivot Point

    I have just started 2 camera clubs and I am planning an exhibition in about 6 months time at one of the halls we meet at. This has diffidently inspired me to help others in the art and force me to get out and create something that everyone can take part in.

  • Ruel Urgel Villaluna

    Inpiring!

  • Johnathan Picado

    Thanks, it helped a lot. I had my camera stored and dusty but today ill start using it.

  • Hi Valerie! Thanks so much for the fabulous tips. I loved the selfie in the theater. It is wonderful to see all the photos you’ve got here in your blog. I am usually so busy trying to perfect exposure and shutter speed that I have become less creative or innovative with my shots over time. You inspire me, and I am deeply tempted now to start a project 😉 Here are some of my okay shots…!

  • Barbara Brock

    I have become fascinated with taking pics of various wildlife in my area….that includes deer, llama, sheep and horses. Also nearby are two lakes which have huge numbers of geese, seagulls and ducks. Honestly, all these critters give me so many opportunities. I’m looking for ACTION from the animals, not just the standing there and looking at me. Wing spans of flying seagulls or their open beaks is totally exhilarating to capture in a photo! I was so close to an emu that he bopped by lens with his beak. It was a great photo!

  • joanna

    My rut is the processing part. I just don’t want to be on my computer much. I am taking more phone images. But I miss my big camera. Any suggestions?

  • Llaup Ecraep

    great artical once again not for the shy of heart thou really, ie me ime one to go out on me own theres only me to talk too and moan if i do somthing wrong , and on that saying, ive tried somthing different my self , star mode using it not for stars, dark nights , buildings wich are lit up, and boats , surprisingly i captured this one on the isle of wight looking from ryde too cowes using my 40x lense yeh 20 mpxle camera, i gave my self that task to get better and sharper shot this one came out the best , a lady in a wheel chair came past , she had 3 cameras and only using the smallest of one them i noticed she had ds dont nows wich one,so i asked her to give the shot a try she declined , now with an chainged mind she went back to the wall and shot away, one thing i got her too take the shot another thing, i dont know how the shot came out as i never gave her any corrispondance to forward her pic, hope that change of mind payed of for her ,the ship is the HOEGH OSAKA wich had listed on brambles bank cowes isle of wight

  • Suchintya Mallick

    I don’t know much about bringing back the magic, as i feel the same fade out situation presently . But I believe , apart from the light, frame, composition, photography is more about what we read, listen , and watch, and how do we feel and react with those. Make a fresh start with newer me.
    Hence, the boredom will be gone, the magic will take place, one day 🙂

  • Bill Jaynes

    For the last nine years I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as essentially the only full time staff member of the only newspaper in the Federated States of Micronesia. I started as a non-photographer, progressed through necessity through the point and shoot phase, and finally took a locally offered short course that got me on manual and ignited a photographic passion I never knew I might develop in my middle age. I have to shoot quite often out of necessity in order to cover the news stories. As my passion grew I decided that just because I was shooting as a photo-journalist didn’t mean that I could be artistic as well. Once I’m sure I have the photos I know I will publish I then go for unique angles. Interestingly, though this constant shooting has got me in a rut. I’m constantly in a position to take beautiful shots (which I sometimes pull off), so much so that I tend not to be able to think of other projects that might intentionally be more satisfying. If it’s not spectacular why shoot it, and so the camera stays on the bag. I’ve missed a lot of excellent opportunities outside of work because of this. I must consciously make an effort to go out when it’s not something for the newspaper and shoot what I think is stunning. But it’s hard to do. Thank you for the article. Just the thought that I may have lost my photo mojo is enough that make me want to combat it. (The photo below was taken during an outing of a fisheries organization I was in Yap, FSM to cover. It didn’t appear in the newspaper but it and 120 others from that event ended up being some of favorite photos from the coverage.)

  • Bill Jaynes

    For the last nine years I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as essentially the only full time staff member of the only newspaper in the Federated States of Micronesia. I started as a non-photographer, progressed through necessity through the point and shoot phase, and finally took a locally offered short course that got me on manual and ignited a photographic passion I never knew I might develop in my middle age. I have to shoot quite often out of necessity in order to cover the news stories. As my passion grew I decided that just because I was shooting as a photo-journalist didn’t mean that I could be artistic as well. Once I’m sure I have the photos I know I will publish I then go for unique angles. Interestingly, though this constant shooting has got me in a rut. I’m constantly in a position to take beautiful shots (which I sometimes pull off), so much so that I tend not to be able to think of other projects that might intentionally be more satisfying. If it’s not spectacular why shoot it, and so the camera stays on the bag. I’ve missed a lot of excellent opportunities outside of work because of this. I must consciously make an effort to go out when it’s not something for the newspaper and shoot what I think is stunning. But it’s hard to do. Thank you for the article. Just the thought that I may have lost my photo mojo is enough that make me want to combat it. (The photo below was taken during an outing of a fisheries organization I was in Yap, FSM to cover. It didn’t appear in the newspaper but it and 120 others from that event ended up being some of favorite photos from the coverage.)

  • Bill Jaynes

    “just because I was shooting as a photo-journalist didn’t mean that I COULDN’T be artistic as well”. Yeah, I be and editor… 😉

  • axel.omg

    use film! seriously. you can get really good analogue cameras for really cheap prices and the images have a nice atmosphere… if its under/over exposed, light leaked in… even better, people mimic those errors with filters.

    than you just give the film to a local shop and ask them to digitize… its cheaper and if you later want physical images too, than you still have the negatives. usually it takes a few days to develop them and by the time you get them, there is that extra excitement of looking at how the pictures turned out that you took days/weeks/months ago.

  • chrysmarty

    Went out and set my camera to monochrome and at placed the settings somewhere weird and just shot that way for two miles walking. Great advice.

  • jamesapril

    Try cosplay (costume play) photography! Hang out near a comic book convention and take pix of costumers. Great practice for portraits and they’re dying for someone to ask them for a portrait!

  • Jean Rodrigues Couto

    Very good.
    Jean Rodrigues, Apaixonado por Tecnologia e profissional na área de Letras em MDF, São Paulo – SP

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