Curing Photographer’s Block

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Writers aren’t the only folks who suffer from a “block” on occasion. It happens to photographers, too. There are times when we pick up the camera but aren’t inspired to shoot. We know we want the satisfaction of clicking shutters and full memory cards, but we’re just not feeling it at the moment.

Here are a handful of tips that may help you through your own bout of photographer’s block:

1. Change your surroundings. Sometimes all it takes for us to overcome our dip in creativity is to go somewhere new. Drive down a road you’ve never taken. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to. Walk in an area you’ve formerly only ever driven in. Simple adjustments in our perspective can do wonders for our creativity.

2. Change your angle. Speaking of perspective, it is often very helpful to physically change the angle from which you are shooting. Get down low – on the ground, on your knees, on your belly, on your back. Get up high – climb a ladder, stand on a chair, hang out on the roof (but be safe!). Looking at the world from a different viewpoint is a great way to get the juices flowing.

3. Change your subject. If you’re a portrait photographer, try shooting nature scenes instead. If you work primarily indoors, go outside! Pick a subject you’ve never photographed before and give it a shot. Some ideas could be architecture, animals at the zoo, a local botanical garden, a sculpture garden, student chefs at a local culinary institute (they often cook for the public as practice), local landmarks, abstract objects, street signs, sidewalk scenes, and farmer’s markets.

4. Leave the camera at home. Personally, nothing expels photographer’s block for me like seeing something I’d like to take a picture of, but not having my camera with me. It has happened to me often enough that, one day, I tried it out as a source of inspiration. I got out of the house, took a drive, and had the “purpose” of just ending up wherever I ended up. Lo and behold, my “photographer’s eye” took over and I started seeing the world as a place to photograph, rather than trying to find something to take a picture of. Once I shook out the cobwebs, I regained my creativity. It took knowing that I didn’t have the ability to take the picture, to find the picture.

5. Switch formats. Give macro photography a try. Or dig out your seldom-used tripod and try some long exposure night shots. Try your hand at making a panoramic photo. Find the best example you can see of “rule of thirds”, or “simplicity”, or any of the other photography “rules”. Rent a type of lens you’ve never tried before. Take some black-and-white pictures. Sometimes making a change with an eye to a different kind of photographic outcome can help you burst free of photographer’s block.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful. If you have some of your own to share, please feel free to leave your advice in the comments!

Photo Credits (in order of appearance):
- “The road to Barrapol” by Atomic Jeep on Flickr Creative Commons.
- “Over rooftops into the distant horizon” by Horia Varlan on Flickr Creative Commons.
- “House Abstract” by Kevin Dooley on Flickr Creative Commons.
- “Pebble blocks” by Pshan427 on Flickr Creative Commons.
- “Seeding dandelion macro” by Arctic Puppy on Flickr Creative Commons.

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  • Kathryn Wagner

    Great article Tiffany, it is always a useful resource to get out of your comfort zone and photograph something new. Thanks for the tips!

  • Mark Alexander

    Great tips!

  • Tiffany

    You're very welcome, Kathryn!

  • Tiffany

    Thanks, Mark!

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