Feeling like the creative part of your mind went on vacation without asking you first? It’s not uncommon for photographers to go through creative slump and experience times when the ideas just aren’t flowing like they used too. Depending on how you look at it, this can either be a stressful time, or a quick moment to take a breather while you casually gather some inspiration. Of course, for some of you, the latter of those two may not be an option, and sometimes you’re just going to have to force it–which is never easy.
When I feel a creativity block coming on, I like to nip it in the bud by taking on a personal project to keep the ideas flowing and the photos coming. Here’s a few of my favorite self assignments that have helped me stay inspired along the way.
1. Daily Photo Project
We’ve probably all seen some pretty spectacular 365-day photography projects by now–where the photographer has made a point to take a photograph everyday for an entire year. I love these kinds of projects because they instill dedication to the craft and can greatly increase one’s skill sets, both creatively and technically. However, if you can’t commit to a year long project, consider doing a daily photo project of shorter duration. Perhaps you can commit yourself to a 30-day daily photo project, or even just a week if that is what is most attainable for you at the time.
You can choose a certain theme for your photos, such as 30 days of self portraits, or maybe you want to leave it a little more open ended and see what comes your way. But, however you decide to approach it, make sure you follow through. Everyday. No excuses. Consider yourself the biggest, most important client you will ever have–one you definitely don’t want to let down by not following through. Though some days will be easier than others, you’ll notice yourself thinking of photo ideas more frequently without even having to prompt yourself. This is because you are actively developing the habit of thinking creatively!
2. Mix Up Your Lenses
I love my 35mm prime. It’s fast, sharp, and doesn’t weigh my camera down. It’s my go to lens and I use it the vast majority of the time; and, a lot of my photographer friends also have a single lens they prefer to use the majority of the time, too. So, when I’m feeling fresh out of ideas–I will sometimes practice my skills by “recreating” some of the photos I’ve taken with the 35mm using a longer lens, such as my 300mm.
When I’m doing this, I’m not trying to recreate the exact same photo I’ve already taken, rather I try to discover a way in which I can photograph the same subject in a different way. This is one of my favorite projects, as I sometimes find I prefer the new compositions over the original.
3. Expand Your Talents
Another of my favorite creativity enhancing self assignments is to try my hand at a style of photography that is outside of what I typically enjoy shooting. I am an adventure and lifestyle photographer by trade, but I don’t like to limit myself to just taking adventure photography. When I’m not on an adventure, or just not feeling it, I like to try my hand at things like macro photography, portraiture, high speed photography, smoke photography, still life, just about anything I can think of.
This project is great when you can’t up with ideas, because I can place more emphasis on learning how to take different styles of photos, without having to necessary force myself to think of a highly creative composition. I can practice my technical skills, and my creative thinking skills still benefit.
Remember, what it essentially boils down to is taking photos, even if they’re not perfect. Next time you find yourself spending too much time thinking about what to take photos of, just pick up your camera and start taking photos of something, and before long, you’ll have more ideas than you have time to shoot!