Like writers, many photographers have creativity blocks, those moments when you struggle for inspiration and output suffers. I have struggled with my fair share of both writer's and photographer's block as I’ve been writing and gathering images for my new book on Travel and Street Photography, keeping up my blog (or trying to!), the newsletter, and social media, as well as photographing just for myself. Here are a few exercises that have really helped me get back into the creative mode.
1. Disconnect from Facebook, Twitter, and all those other social media time sucks. Turn off the television, unplug from the internet and go for walk.
2. Take part in someone else's creative endeavors. Staci likes to make things and her latest project was making soap. I don’t know anything about making soap but I was in a writing rut and needed a break so I offered to help. The process of making something by hand helped open my own creative flow and before I knew it I was writing again.
3. Hold yourself to a lower standard. We can’t all be Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson. Give yourself permission to shoot shit! Not literally of course, unless that inspires you, but the point is loosen up and lower your standards so you’re not always over thinking it. I was in Belgium for the third time and struggling to find my creative mojo so I decided to dumb it down and focus on photographing people and their pets. In the end, it ended up being a fun process that opened the creative doors.
4. Buy a Polaroid! You think I’m joking. First off all, it will lower your expectations (because, seriously, it's a Polaroid) and secondly, it is way too much fun! Shooting with a Polaroid reminds me of exactly why I started taking photos in the first place… instant gratification and sharing with friends. You may be laughing now, until you buy one. Then you ‘ll know why these things are all the rage among younger European photographers. They’re fun, and unless you're a photojournalist covering serious subject matter, shouldn't photography be fun?
5. Take on a new technique that you've never tried before. Since it's new, you obviously won't be great at it, so there's no pressure. Try focus stacking, HDR, Macro work, product shots, food photography, etc. Whatever it is that you've wanted to try, give yourself permission to do it badly, then just give it a whirl! Either you'll learn a great new technique to try again sometime, or you'll gain a new perspective that will strengthen your current technique.
Remember, have fun and if all else fails, make soap! At least you'll smell good!