I don’t know about you, but I fall into seasons of just not knowing what or how or why I shoot. Sometimes it hits when I’m bored at home, which is the best case. The worst is when it hits on a trip or adventure, and I just can’t seem to even muster capturing photos to remember the trip. I’ve been on trips where I packed multiple cameras and lots of film, then I didn’t even manage to get through one roll. It’s frustrating. So when these moments strike, what can help shake it?
Here are some of the ideas that have helped me shake a total loss of inspiration.
Find something different, new and interesting to shoot
This doesn’t always work, but sometimes finding something that you don’t normally photograph can break open a new kind of creativity. I am typically a landscape and nature photographer, so maybe heading into a city or grabbing a macro lens will do the trick.
Browse an inspirational artist
Take some time to browse the work of other artists and see what they are working on. Sometimes seeing inspirational work from others can give you a fresh perspective. If you don’t know of many other artists, just do some Google searches or browse Instagram, and see what sparks your interest.
Try a new technique – experiment
This is an easy one that I find to be very effective. Switch from color to black and white film. Add a filter onto your lens. Grab a lens that you don’t typically use, and try to use it on something different. Try out macro or telephoto. Play with some lights, splash some water, set up a tripod… whatever sounds fun in the moment can inspire you to make great images again.
Pick up a different camera
If you have a variety of equipment, just grab a new camera and try it out. I have quite a few older film cameras, mostly obtained rather inexpensively, and they sometimes get stuck sitting on a shelf. If I find myself beyond frustrated with my go-to digital gear, I might grab an automatic little point and shoot film camera and just take it for a walk. Seeing things through a different camera or lens, or format, can sometimes make a difference. A plastic camera, like a Holga, can give you some very different results, which may shake your creative senses awake.
Try a new roll of film
Order a roll of film that you’ve never shot before, and give it a try. Have fun with some purple or infrared film, shoot fast or slow film, color or black and white – just something that is new to you. See what you can do!
Buy or rent a new lens
This is a more costly option, but sometimes just adding a new piece of gear into the rotation can help shake the blues. Lenses can be rented for most digital kits, but it can also be fairly inexpensive to grab a new piece of gear, depending on what you shoot with. Try to change the perspective, and it may mean you make some stunning new photos!
Relax and let the moment pass
Of course, sometimes we just need a break. Maybe the lack of creativity means it’s time to pause. Take the opportunity to organize and clean your gear, browse other artists, take a walk, or just read a book. The creativity will come back, and when it does, in my experience, it comes back with some velocity!
Hopefully these are some ideas that will help you if you’re in a slump at the moment. We’d love to know what else might help you, so feel free to comment and share your ideas and experiences. At the end of the day, you love the art and the art will work itself out. Just pick up a camera, and keep shooting!