No matter what style of photography you practice or work in, it will always require creativity.
Even if you know the shots you need you’ll still have to call on your creative vision to compose, light and capture the image in your mind or on the clients brief. Sometimes, you just can’t reach your creativity…
The creative block. It happens to the best of us.
Every photographer will have at some point encountered a time when they simply have no motivation. All creativity is drained and there’s nothing driving you to capture new, unique and exciting images – but how do you get it back?
I’ve compiled a few of my favourite ways to rediscover motivation and get inspired to start shooting again. Each photographer will have their own way of finding their creativity (tell us about yours in the comments below) so it is important to try different things until you find a method that works for you!
See Your Success
This is a technique that extends beyond just the realms of photography. There are many successful entrepreneurs and business owners that do exactly this to renew their motivation, and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t do the same!
Draw a plan for your career trajectory as a photographer. Start at Today and ending in the future when you’ve achieved all of your goals – setting yourself milestones along the way and in-between. The milestones should be achievable, from entering a contest to processing your backlog and right up to achievements like worked with 20 clients and made my first £50,000.
Once your plan is complete, stick it up on a wall and look at it every time you walk past. Use it to envision yourself achieving each of the milestones and let it help you to find your motivation to go out and make them a reality.
Make a List
Similar to seeing your success but a little more immediate for those of you that prefer instant results; try making a list of all the jobs, tasks and errands you need to complete in the more imminent future for your photography.
The tasks on your list don’t need to be big milestones, they can be small like ‘post a photo on Twitter’ or ‘download images from SD Cards’. Make the list as long as possible.
Sit down with the completed list and look through everything you have to do and then pick the easiest job on there. Make yourself complete it (yes, even if you don’t want to) then put a line through it on your list. Repeat.
As you start to realise how quickly you can progress through your list of tasks, it will really help you to become more motivated and feel as though you’re accomplishing something and moving yourself towards your goals. This is a great way to rediscover your motivation and become inspired to work harder on your photography.
A Personal Project
Taking some time away from your commercial projects and working on something for yourself is a time-old method of renewing your interest in the art you practice.
It is easy to become weighed down with the requirements of others, client briefs and what is expected. Working for yourself on something that only you will truly enjoy will always help to renew your vision and breathe new creativity into not only your personal projects but also your professional work as well.
If you’re not sure where to begin, why not start a 365 day project?
Think of a simple theme such as ‘colour’ or ‘people’ and then set yourself the task of shooting just one image each day of the year that you can add into the project. It’s a great way to not only overcome a creative block in the short term, but also ensure that you don’t fall back into a rut in future (or at least for the remaining 364 days!).
Do Something That’s Not Photography
Sometimes the worst thing you can do, is to try to force yourself through the creative block and keep shooting. It can be a hundred times more beneficial to simply take a break from it!
Leave your camera behind and go play some sports, take a long walk or watch a movie. The space will give you a chance to look at other things and help you to return to your photography with a refreshed mind and new creative vision.
The Work of Others
This is a great exercise even for those that aren’t struggling to find their motivation.
When was the last time that you looked through the portfolio of another photographer? Taking the time to peruse unique and interesting artwork by different photographers is a great way to form new ideas and develop your own vision as a photographer.
Looking at the work of others you will discover different styles and techniques that you may not have encountered before – and hopefully this will encourage you to push yourself to capture even more incredible imagery.
You can even take this idea a step further and look for photographers that are in competition with you and look at the different ways they are capturing images that you might not have thought of before! It is a great way to see subjects that you are familiar with from an entirely different perspective.
A word of caution – you should definitely draw inspiration from existing works, but don’t pursue the same shots or try to recreate them. Instead, you should learn from these images and the techniques that have been used and implement the aspects that you like into your own unique vision.
Take a Photography Workshop
You’ll never stop learning when working as a photographer – there will always be something new to learn and someone to learn it from!
If you’re struggling to find your creativity in the everyday images you’re shooting, then why not step out of your comfort zone and learn some new skills that you can incorporate into your own photography? It’ll not only be a great way to reinvigorate your creative drive, but also add powerful new skills to your repertoire and help you to develop as a professional.
Photo walks and photography workshops are normally relatively easy to find, especially if you live near any big cities or popular tourist attractions – and just remember, it never hurts to brush up on your own skills even if you think there’s nothing new you can learn (though you’ll almost certainly be wrong!).
Change Your Scenery
Finally… take a trip!
This is probably my favourite way to rediscover my creativity and find inspiration for new images. You don’t have to travel very far; just try to make sure it is to somewhere you haven’t been before.
Getting yourself to somewhere new, discovering new things and seeing new sights is good for your soul and never fails to help you feel refreshed and inspired.
It can take a little time, but give it a chance and make sure your camera is close-at hand – for when you suddenly realise all of the new and exciting shots around you that you should be shooting! Suddenly you’ll have forgotten you ever lost your motivation and will be wondering why you brought so few SD cards.
If you have your own ways of rediscovering your motivation and inspiration we’d love to hear them!
In the meantime I hope that my advice will help some of you to rediscover the drive you once had!