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When was the last time you hit a creative dead end? What was your process for digging yourself out of the rut? I know lots of photographers consult the internet when this happens to them. The internet is an incredible resource for photographers who have hit the proverbial wall — you can find support (every photographer deals with this problem) and get ideas for how to overcome this most aggravating challenge.
Photography forums are teeming with advice about how to get out of a creative rut and much of it is really useful. I’ve even made a few contributions to the topic myself. But if I were to sum up my preferred technique in three words, it would be “shoot through it.”
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Don’t get discouraged and put your camera down. You need to keep shooting, but you also need to change things up a bit. Here’s how.
Find A Different Subject
Shoot something you don’t normally shoot. Simple. If you’re a (human) portrait photographer, trying photographing animals. If you’re primarily a landscape photographer, trying doing portraits.
You get the idea.
Sometimes you just reach a point of burn out from doing the same thing all the time. By surrounding yourself with new subject matter you’ll find new inspiration, you’ll be forced to try new techniques and you can take your new perspective back to your regular work.
Find Different Light
Piggybacking on the idea above, you may discover that a simple change in lighting is all you need to get yourself back in the game.
If you’re a studio shooter who is accustomed to being in full control of all aspects of your lighting, you might enjoy the thrill of going outdoors and finding different ways to work with natural light. You’ll have to get creative when it comes to modifying natural light.
Similarly, a natural light photographer might enjoy the opportunity to do some studio work and learn the ins and outs of artificial lighting.
Or, if you tend to shoot during daylight hours, trying doing some nighttime photography.
Find A Different Perspective
We’re all guilty of it — shooting everything from eye level. It’s not that this perspective should be avoided entirely, but there are other ways to capture a photo.
Get as low as possible. I know you’ve seen some photographer lying flat on their belly trying to get a shot of who knows what. Be that photographer. It doesn’t matter what your subject is, capturing it from an unexpected or non-traditional perspective will help you see it in a new way.
Getting up high can be just as effective simply because we don’t normally see the world from such a perspective. Shooting down on things can give you a new appreciation for your environment.
Getting stuck in a rut is disheartening and frustrating and it is easy to give in to the impulse to put your camera away and just forget about it. To be sure, there are times when a break is beneficial. But you shouldn’t expect your motivation to magically return whenever you decide to pick up your camera again.
Dealing with a creative rut is largely about a change in habits. Find new people, places, things and ways to shoot. But no matter what, keep shooting.