How To Unleash Your Creativity as a Photographer

Moose in Fall Cottonwoods

We all hit dry spells. Sometimes photographers will complain that there’s nothing out there to shoot. Writers will come across a writer’s block. Many other artists will say they simply haven’t had enough to drink yet. Obviously with the lack of blog posts I’ve had lately, there’s a reason I’m typing this up. If you’re finding yourself in a similar state, here are some helpful tips to get through your photography block.

  1. Spend an entire day in one area.
    That’s right. Get up early, pack a lunch and spend sunrise to sunset (or longer) in one location. Here in Jackson Hole, I could choose locations such as Teton Village, Antelope Flats or any other location that offers enough variance so that I can move around and see new sights and angles, but small enough so that I’m forced to eventually begin getting creative. A couple of other examples from places I’ve also lived: Camelback Mountain or the Phoenix Mountains Park and Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona or The French Quarter and/or the Riverfront in New Orleans, Louisiana. Isolating yourself in one location may get boring after a few hours, but if you keep with it your creativity will eventually force itself out giving you shots you would have never seen there otherwise.
  2. Use one type of lens for a week.
    Before I began really diving into photography, my wide angle lens was practically glued to my camera. I noticed I wasn’t getting much use out of my Canon 70-300mm lens, which is too nice of a lens to not be using. Finally, determined to use it more, I set out to only use my telephoto lens and so for an entire week I left it on my camera and began seeing all sorts of new uses for it that I hadn’t previously thought of before. If you find you’re using one lens quite a bit more than the other, switch it up and keep the other on there for a while. This will force you to look through your camera in ways you’re not used to. Don’t have another lens? Rent one.
  3. Dig through your archives.
    As time passes, we can build up quite an archive of photos. Occasionally a few slip through the cracks and in going back and looking through past shots or road trips, we’ll come across something that looks like it has potential when we didn’t even notice it before. This is not only good to find something new to process, and thus getting you back into a bit of a groove, but it also might inspire you to get back out there and try something similar again, perhaps locally.
  4. Shoot something new.
    If you’re used to shooting a specific subject, point your camera at something else. For me, I typically look for large wildlife and grand landscapes. If I find myself in a bit of a dry spell, I’ll look elsewhere. Birds are everywhere and they make an excellent subject to change things up. If birds are your primary subject, look to your or a friend’s pets. Even just going for a hike around where you live can open up a world of new possibilities, particularly if you’re looking for things you don’t normally shoot.
  5. "Explore. Dream. Discover."
    Yes, it’s simply a quote from Mark Twain, but it speaks volumes. In the end, as I’ve tried to illustrate with the prior points, the best way to rediscover creativity is to simply get out there and enjoy the world around you. Take a scenic route home. Spend an extra hour driving somewhere you don’t normally get to. Take a road trip, even if just for a day, as soon as you can. Do whatever you can to get yourself out there and rediscover why it is you even have a camera.

To sum up, get outside and enjoy your world. There’s plenty of it no matter where you live.

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