I don’t know if there’s a specific definition for the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block, but l had it for the majority of 2019. I remember that I couldn’t feel the vibe, I couldn’t find the energy to shoot and I couldn’t find the motivation. I took a double dose of it all when I started feeling self conscious about my work, never feeling like anything I made was good enough for a viewers consumption.
Now, if you were to pile on some of the issues that could exist in life– relationship issues, financial burdens, work loads and a slew of other things– it can be more than enough for many people to call it quits on anything creative at all and find yourself depressed and in that creative rut. I guess you could say that it’s a pretty normal thing, right? I mean we all go through some ridiculously rough times in our lives and we sure as heck handle it all in different ways with different impacts to our health, creativity, money and life. I can’t say that my way through it all is the only and best way to go, but I can share what helped me get my mind back into where it needed to be, and what made me happy… who knows, maybe you’re like me.
1. Surround yourself with awesome people.
Most people would just say “friends”, but not all “friends” are positive influences in our lives, right? Avoid the drama and toxicity of the people you already know you shouldn’t be around and find the supportive and helpful people, find the awesome people. The uplifting people. The understanding and trustworthy people, and turn these people into your friends. Not even just that– find local artists, photographers, role-models you look up to. Fill up your social media with inspiring people and with those you love and with those that make you laugh. Find your muse!
2. Get out of the house.
This is starting to sound like one of those, “How to deal with depression” type articles, but maybe it is for a reason. Being alone absolutely sucks. I don’t get super artsy and creative if I lock myself in my room breathing stale air while reattempting an edit on a photo for the 4th time– otherwise known as spacing out at the screen. Getting out of the house and finding some activities that are helpful to your creative skill might be an inspiring thing to do. Don’t neglect the responsibilities you have at home though– I’m a believer that when things are clean at home, your mind can be just as fresh.
I spend a lot of time driving around and scouting and I’ve recently found a new love of long walks. I look for locations that I want to shoot and note where I saw them. I travel both in and out of my local area, go out into nature, I love to shoot landscapes. Occasionally I take a friend with me and before I know it, things will turn into a mini shoot. I take the time to study signs, architecture, advertisements, even textures while I’m out just for inspiration. Seriously though, there’s much inspiration to be found by walking the world.
3. Just do it.
You’ll rarely hear me admit that I’m lazy, but I’ll own it and say that I’m a huge procrastinator. I’m not the planning kind of person either, I spontaneously do things, and of course, spontaneously not do things. I’d often rather ditch plans, open up Netflix on the tv, and binge watch that new series for the night, two nights… or entire weekend. I’ve learned from this procrastination, quick tip – totally not the way to stay creative. Instead… Just freakin’ do it. Don’t feel like taking pictures? Force yourself to take a camera, and to look through the viewfinder every 5 minutes or so. Don’t feel like doing the laundry? Do the laundry. Editing? Do the photo edits. Eating?! Go to dinner with your friends and heck, take pictures of them whilst you all stuff your faces full of good food! Do the random road trip. Do the normal everyday junk and do the fun, social, and creative things!
Maybe do something crazy! Book photoshoots! Again, take your camera everywhere with you and actually use it. Be spontaneous! Taking a deep breath, and reinforcing a positive attitude will definitely help. Right now is the perfect moment to start a personal project or try something new.
Some of my favorite shots came from when I was forcing myself to shoot. At first, I was hesitant because I felt that everything I took sucked. After I’d snap out of it, I’d look at the pictures and realize they’re not that bad. I mean, they’re not bad at all!
Once you’ve figure out that you’re human and that you feel emotions, you can get back to being a complete workhorse and start the cycle all over again. If you feel like trying something new to see if it sparks your creativity, check out this post on vanishing points and see how you can incorporate them into your creative practice.