Struggling With Creativity In Photography

One of the biggest struggles with teaching photography comes when my students have become really good technical photographers. New photographers especially start to rely on their technical technique (“look at me! I know how to create really great photographs”) and stop really enjoying the art of photographing. Struggling with creativity within photography is not something new, this happens to everyone. Do you own a photography business? Are you an artist? I guarantee if you own a business where you photograph day in and day out that at some point you have looked at your work, your portfolio, and realized you are no longer enjoying it. It’s normal and part of the ebb and flow of owning a creative business or being an artist. So how do you fix this problem? With play.

Many photographers face this kind of block. It’s not quite the same as artist’s block (which is much like writer’s block) but it is a hurdle. Being able to consistently create solid work is a focus for some photographers. If only I could go into every single session and know I’ll create something great for my client. This is an admirable focus and can certainly be a measure of your own personal success. But if you have found yourself in the I’m-so-bored-of-my-own-photography block then I suggest you try these techniques to bring play back into your photographs.

Just One New Photo For Each Session

If you already know you are creating great photographs and your clients are happy then you do not need to change your entire business model, style, or anything else really. But if you are unhappy with what you are creating and struggling with your own creativity, I urge you to start exploring just a little bit. Start small—focus on getting just one new photo during each session. Try something new. A new angle…different lighting…different poses…different landscapes or locations…the options are endless. Find some images that resonate with you and really focus on that for just one new photo to add to the gallery or session.

Challenge Yourself

What would really give you a challenge? Maybe it’s photographing with one single lens (a prime lens) and making an entire gallery of interesting images without ever changing your focal length. Or maybe you find you photograph too many portrait aspect ratio images and you want to try to photograph only landscape ratio. Find something that is slightly out of your comfort zone and try that thing for a little bit. If you’re worried about messing up with a client then maybe add this on after you know you’ve gotten everything, or better yet, ask a friend to step in for a photo shoot with you while you attempt something new. My friends and family members have long been great testers for a new idea.

A New Medium

This one takes some more time to prepare for. But have you thought about exploring with the vast amount of different options within photography? What about film? If you’ve never explored film then I suggest you try it. As a business model this one is expensive and takes a while to master, but what about just trying something for yourself instead of for a client? How about using a silly plastic camera, a point and shoot, or a Holga (my favorite assignment with my third year photo students)? Just last year a student of mine took a cheap point and shoot film camera from the 90’s and created the most beautiful portfolio with it. She had the film processed and scanned so she could digitally manipulate it and created gorgeous art.

Have you ever tried cyanotype (or just kids sun prints)? You can easily print photos on clear acetate (or the real photogs use OHP) and create stunning alternative process photos. Sometimes stepping out of the “normal” digital photo box will give you some insight on what really interests you in your art and photography. Completely separate from what you create for your clients.

A Different Genre

Okay, for this one I am not saying to quit your job and try something entirely new. But if you are a food photographer, how about your dabble in portraits in your down time? Maybe if you love landscapes you try flat-lays instead. If you’re a wedding photographer what about family portraits? Occasionally flipping the script will help you re-ignite your passion when you are struggling with your own creativity to make something that you truly love. This is more for yourself, but could also bring in extra income if needed.

Overall the answer is that when you are struggling with creativity the answer is usually to try and find more play within your art. Remember when your were a kid and art class was your favorite? You just loved to play with the supplies and try new things to see if you could make something awesome. A quick note here as well that maybe you want to stop looking at other photographers who do what you do. When we continually look at other photographers in our same genre (and our same geographical location) we ignite the comparison trap that bullies us into thinking that our work is no good. I implore you to step outside of that and look for other inspirations outside of your immediate circle. As an art history minor I often go back to famous historical artists and photographers to squeeze my own creative juices.



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I am a professional photographer & photo educator. I’m here to share with you my best (and easiest) tips and tricks for taking amazing photos. I’m sharing years of knowledge as a teaching artist to help you find a way to share your unique point of view with the world. Welcome to The Photo Method.

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