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creatives, we attach so much of ourselves to our art. Whether you’re
a graphic designer, painter, writer, or photographer – being creative
takes energy. Creativity isn’t something we can use up. In fact, I
believe that the more we use it, the more we have. Almost like a
muscle. The more we train that muscle, the bigger it will get.
However, it can be easy to get into a funk or feel uninspired. We see
it all over social media, especially in the winter: “I’m so
uninspired lately.” “I’m in such a creative funk.” “I don’t
even feel like I want to pick up my camera.”
probably all been there. I know I have. Many times. There is nothing
wrong with feeling that way, but if you’re tired of feeling that
way, it can be frustrating. Over the years, I’ve learned some
tricks. Here are a few ways I help get myself excited to pick up a
1. Pick a Project
we are just tired of shooting the same things. Or feel like we don’t
have anything exciting to shoot. It’s normal. Picking a project can
help. A few projects I have done off and on over the years are:
One Roll, One Day
Literally shoot your entire day (the more “normal” the day, the better) from morning until night with just one roll of film. You’re learning (or reminding yourself) how to tell the full story and making it a challenge by only using one roll of film. You’ll probably be surprised by all the special keepers in that roll.
One Roll, One Kid
Similar to the project above, but it doesn’t have to be in one day. You photograph one of your kids (or a pet!) using the entire roll of film. This could be portrait style, candid style, or a mixture of both. This is a very fun project to do monthly. At the end of the year, you’ll have a special collection of images.
One Camera + One Type of Film
This is a personal favorite of mine. I started this project in 2018 after feeling stuck in a rut. I decided to shoot at least one roll of Ilford HP5+ in my Olumpus OM-1 each month for the year. I learned so much about the camera and the film stock. I shot the film from ISO 320-1600 several times. Some months, I would set out to shoot the entire roll in just one day. And other months, I just popped the roll in and shot throughout the month. Some of my favorite images ever are from this project. And since then, Ilford HP5+ has become the film stock I shoot with 98% of the time.
I’m a little bias. My first camera in the digital age was a Lomography Diana (the medium format replica of the original Diana camera) so my love for plastic toy cameras runs deep. Picking up a toy or vintage box camera is special. You rarely have any settings, and if you do, they are very basic. You, as the artist, are left with deciding how you’re going to make this image work.
My favorite way to shoot these types of cameras is the same way I’d shoot with my Olympus OM-1 or any other SLR with crisp beautiful lenses. I basically pretend like I have a “real” camera in my hand while I’m documenting my surroundings and always end up with these amazing, dreamy images that look like they are from another world. If you’re not used to using a camera like this, it will help push you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Do you usually shoot dreamy Fujifilm PRO 400H? Or Kodak Portra? Both stocks are absolutely gorgeous and tend to be the first chosen among photographers – and for good reason. If that’s you, try something new for a few rolls. Have you shot Kodak Gold? Or how about Psychadelic Blues? Lomography and Revolog also have really fun stocks to play with. Or, if you mostly shoot color, try black and white for a bit. Trying something new is fun and gives you a whole new challenge to focus on.
4. Join a Photo Walk
Join a local photography group or reach out to a few photographers in your area and set out on a photo walk together. Try going somewhere new and just enjoying the time outside with new friends and a camera in hand.
5. Lastly…Don’t Shoot
*Gasp* What is she talking about? You read that correctly. If you’re feeling uninspired, you might need to take a creative break.
Instead of shooting, do something else. Try writing – actually writing with a pen to paper. Or pick up a new book that has nothing to do with photography. Try your hand at watercolor painting. Sometimes, we really do need to just rest or brains and our creative juices.
Recharging is important and usually doesn’t take long. But when you’re ready to get back at it, try one of the four suggestions above to get you back in the grove.