Sometimes in photography, we find that we've slowed down for some reason. These slow periods can be a natural part of our creative work. Sometimes we feel inspired, energized, in love with life and photography! Other times, we feel lukewarm about it all. Exploring the deeper causes of these slowdowns can provide insight into our creative selves. For now, let’s look at how to grab the camera, give our creativity a little push, and get started again.
You might be thinking, not want to shoot photos? No way, that never happens to me! Well, what about that special project that’s been percolating at the back of your mind? Or the technique you read about and thought you'd love to try? Or even the gallery you want to contact?
Separate the Steps in the Process
One of the most common reasons for avoiding new challenges like these is that we often try to create and evaluate at the same time. Rather than separating the final critique into a later step, we try to choose, shoot, and edit—doing everything all in one step. Then we feel intimidated and not quite up to the task, so we put it off. By separating the process of making photos from the assessment at the end, you can relax enough to experiment and get creative.
How to Get Going Again
A few suggestions to help you focus on the creative phase and get you past the slow-down:
Just start somewhere. Anywhere. There is no “right” way to begin—that’s the photo critic talking. Take pictures in your living room, if you have to! By taking one step and then another, you can create some momentum and get going again.
Try an “assignment” where you concentrate on something totally new: a technique, perspective, subject, or even different shooting distance.
Set aside evaluating your images until after the photo session. Don't show anyone else, or even look at them yourself. Wait a day, a week, or more to review.
Change how you think about mistakes. Sometimes the most amazing photos result from a “mistake” in camera angle, exposure, or other aspect of the shot. These happy accidents can free up our creativity from the unconscious limitations we’ve put on ourselves. Let them take your work in a new direction.
Part of the fun of photography is that you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Maybe you have some fabulous images, or maybe you learned about what you need to work on. Either way, by focusing on just starting, you get the creative process going again and let your inner artist work with less restriction. The show critic can take over on a different day!