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Creative ruts happens to the best of us. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat the dreaded photographer’s block. Here are 5 tips to get out of a photographic rut and back into doing what you love!
Getting stuck into some artistic research is one of my first tips for getting out of a photographic rut. Whether it’s online or in-print, checking out what other photographers have done can stimulate fresh photographic approaches.
Having a look at contemporary photography can inform your practice with new perspectives. In addition, brushing up on your photo history can give you the motivation to expand on tried-and-true photographic methods.
Don’t limit yourself to researching one area of photography either. Branch out into different genres you are curious about. And don’t forget to explore other types of artistic practice. A lot can be gleaned from disciplines like painting and sculpture – practices that rely just as heavily on light and composition as photography does.
Often, writers find that putting ideas on paper helps stimulate creative thought. It’s the same for photographers too.
A great way to organize your favorite research discoveries is to create a visual diary. Visual diaries (or art diaries) have been kept by artists for centuries as a way to consolidate ideas and cultivate inspiration.
Grab a blank visual diary (a portable size works best) and start to add prints, drawings, paintings, notes, journal entries, rubbings, whatever! The idea is that your visual diary is your own physical expression of the creative process. When organized into a visual diary, your photographic trajectory becomes clearer. It can be as neat or messy as you like, don’t overthink it and have fun!
Selecting a specific theme focuses your creativity. Having a theme also simplifies your photographic process, defining a clear goal for you to work on. Furthermore, when you work within a theme, you start to uncover interesting perspectives about a subject you may never have considered before. This feeds your creative momentum, helping to lever you out of photographer’s block.
Photography is made up of an endless amount of techniques and approaches. This provides photographers with many great tools to get out of a photographic rut. Trying something new can be exciting, and it can re-frame your whole photographic practice, kick-starting your creative flow and getting you back in the game.
Investing in new equipment is one way to change-up your photography, but simpler (cheaper) ideas work well too. For example, trying out portraiture or getting into black and white photography can help just as much. You could try photographing a new location or embark on a 365 project. You could also try camera tossing or set your sights on street photography – the choice is yours.
Creativity can be fickle, and inspiration can strike at unexpected times. If you are in a photographic rut, capitalizing on these bolts of inspiration is important. The last tip to get out of a photographic rut is to keep a camera with you, ready for action.
Today, many people have a camera constantly within reach on their phones. Concepts like composition and settings on a camera phone are similar to a dedicated camera. This means that taking photos with a camera phone can, in itself, flex your photographic muscles. In addition, you can also record interesting subjects on your phone to return to later with a dedicated camera.
For me, I try to keep a small, plastic camera with me in my pocket or bag. There’s something about having a camera that inspires me to keep a lookout for new photographic opportunities. The whimsical nature of a plastic camera adds an element of surprise to photography too.
Photographic ruts are a stubborn burden suffered by many photographers. Luckily, taking active steps can alleviate the symptoms of a creative dry-spell.
While these tips are drawn from my own experiences, it is by no means an exhaustive list.
Have you been stuck with photographers block? Let me know your tips to get out of a photographic rut in the comments.