photo by rudi_suardi via iStock
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been in a creative rut since the start of this pandemic. Isolation doesn’t do great things for your mental health and it definitely doesn’t do great things for your creativity either.
I’ve tried to keep myself inspired by doing different photography challenges, like taking at least one photo every day for a month or strictly working with one lens for a period of time, but great photography ideas take inspiration. They can’t be pulled from thin air.
So, I’ve switched my focus. I’m now focusing less on forcing myself to take photos, regardless of how I’m feeling, and instead I’m focusing on how to get out of a photography rut. This means that I need to actually feel inspired if I’m going to be taking photos.
Here’s how I’m doing it.
Examine Your Best Work
photo by PeopleImages via iStock
One of the best ways to learn how to get out of a photography rut is examining your own work. A lot of people try and pull inspiration from their photography role models, which can work occasionally, but very few people try and pull inspiration from themselves.
If you’ve been a photographer for even a few months, then you should take a look at your highlight reel. This helps you in a few ways. First, you will remember all of the great work that you can do when you’re less focused on daily photography ideas and more focused on just doing what you love. Second, it will help you figure out exactly what you love to photograph.
For instance, if your highlight reel is filled with portraits, then maybe you’re inspired by other people. Or, if your highlight reel is filled with pictures of the natural world, then maybe you need to get out into nature.
Shoot with an Old Camera
photo by DronExpert via iStock
Not everybody has beautiful antique cameras lying around their house, but another great way to learn how to get out of a photography rut is to use old equipment.
So, you can either head to an antique store, if you have a little money to burn, or a thrift store if you don’t. Regardless you will definitely find some great old cameras that you can purchase and start shooting with.
Old cameras, especially film cameras, lend a really special feeling to your photos. They make it feel as if you are participating in something larger than yourself.
When I was learning how to be a more creative photographer, this was one of the best tips I heard.
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Use New Presets
photo by MixMedia via iStock
Sometimes the best creative ideas for photography are the ones that aren’t about photography at all, they’re about editing.
I’ve noticed that usually when I’m in a photography rut it’s because I’ve been in an editing rut. It’s really easy to figure out what works for you and to then only edit all of your images in the exact same way in order to save some time.
While this may be a smart business move, it isn’t a smart creativity move and if you’re serious about learning how to get out of a photography rut, then you need to also get out of your editing rut.
Thankfully, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are thousands of presets available for sale. Many of them are very, very cheap. So, the first step of learning how to get out of a photography rut is stalking some of your favorite photographers on Instagram in search for great new presets.
Collaborate With Others
photo by Tanja Ristic via iStock
We have all been in a photography rut for so long because we have all been working solo for at least a year, depending upon what part of the world you live in.
The good news is that vaccines are rolling out in many countries, which means that we are finally able to start working together again.
The problem, though, is that many photographers typically work alone. If this is the case for you, start trying to figure out which other photographers you can collaborate with when it is safe to do so.
You can actually collaborate with other businesses or you can just get together to shoot on your off days with other photographers. Regardless, just don’t forget that working creatively with other people could be one of the best ways to learn how to get out of a photography rut.
Print Your Photos
Another way to focus more on your creativity is to print your photos. Just like in the case of my editing, I fall into a browsing rut and it can be really exhausting to only view your images on a computer screen. Besides, I am of the personal belief that photographs are meant to be displayed.
But, printing your photos can be a little overwhelming because of the sheer amount of display options there are and because of the number of printing studios that are available online.
I typically recommend photographers print their photographs on canvases because canvas photographs are far cheaper than some of the other options, like metal, and because they look classic so you can hang them anywhere.
And, if you are planning on printing your photos on canvas, then there’s no better company to do it with than CanvasHQ.
CanvasHQ won our award for the Best Canvas Print Company in 2020 because it is a small company and everyone that works there genuinely cares about the quality of their work.
Each canvas is hand-stretched, each canvas frame is hand-built, and each photo is edited before it ever gets put through a printer (if you need those services).
Plus, unlike other high-quality canvas printing companies, CanvasHQ’s prices aren’t going to break your budget. Their canvas prints start at just $20.
So, give printing a photo a two a try. It could be precisely what you need to get out of your creative rut!