By Mike Boening, Olympus Visionary
It can happen to anyone at anytime, a creative rut. You love photography and shooting pictures everyday and than all of sudden it happens, you are in a rut. Maybe you have had a family tragedy or some changes in your life that precipitated it, but you have to be honest with yourself, something’s not right. So, what do you do? You want to get your creative juices flowing again and as soon as possible. Here are five tips that can help you get through this temporary issue and back on track with a new reinvigorated love for your craft.
1. LOOK AT THE WORK OF OTHER ARTISTS
Use other people’s work that you admire. Maybe there is someone you follow on Facebook or you have seen on Flickr. Spend some time on that person’s website looking at their images. Possibly there is a way to recharge your own work through their creations. Look at each image and think about how it was created. What direction was the lighting coming from? What focal length and shutter speed were used? On sites like Flickr and the Olympus User Gallery you can pick up this information from looking at the EXIF data, which is a great place to start. Start to take notes on those images and use them as your field guide when you go out and try to create on your own.
2. LOOK AT YOUR OWN WORK
Sit down and pull up some work from 4 or 5 years ago. What did you do right, what could you have improved on? Be honest with yourself when doing this. It’s a very reflective process. When you see some of your best work from the past it can build your confidence to go out and create something new.
3. TAKE A CLASS
Talking to others about photography can do wonders for you. Check out your local photo club or join the meetup.com where there are numerous Meetup groups for photography all over the world and likely in your own backyard. Maybe it’s taking a class at your local community college or a one-day workshop. By joining it gives you opportunities to discuss photography in a group setting. The back and forth conversations can be very enlightening when you are looking for motivation. Another added benefit would be the camaraderie you end up building with the others, which can last much longer than the class.
4. OFFER YOUR SERVICES
Helping others can always be motivating and may actually be the boost you need to recharge your batteries. Look for local volunteer opportunities where you can give time and skills to help others. Maybe it’s running a photo booth type operation at a local fundraiser or something like capturing images at a local 5K run for charity. These types of organizations love having their events documented and appreciate any help they get from someone with your skills.
5. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
How about looking at your surroundings from a different view? Do something as easy as getting up high on a ladder or a small structure. Maybe it’s the opposite and you want to look from much lower. Get down on your knees or even lie down in the grass and shoot up at objects. Maybe it’s even changing your shooting area all together. Take a drive one hour from your home and see what you can find. It’s amazing when you never venture out one way and then you change that area. A whole new world may open up for you.
Hopefully some of these tips can be put to use. From experience, this has happened a couple times to me over my career and I can tell you that I have used variations of these ideas and they do help. Be honest with yourself and dive in. The motivation is there, you just need to ignite the spark. Good luck and let me know if you find any new ways to get out of your photography rut.
ABOUT MIKE BOENING
Mike commonly finds his inspiration on the streets of his hometown, Detroit, Michigan, specializing in street and urban photography. Over the last five years, he has worked with the Detroit Metro Convention Bureau, covering events and taking headshots for a Fortune 500 company, and shooting sports photography. Mike has shared his love of street photography by teaching and leading groups on urban photography in the Detroit area and beyond.