Beat the Block

We always try to be positive about photography, but, if you get into this photography thing seriously, every now and then you're going to hit a wall.  You're stuck for new ideas and tired of your old ones.  What should I photograph today?  How can I make this portrait different than all the portraits my client has seen?  How can I come up with a completely original idea for the next project?  There are things you can do to get through this feeling.  You won't be the first, or last, to face it.  I would go into the travails of being an Artist, but I can already hear the peals of laughter from friends, and we're not even into the second paragraph of the blog.  (I really need to get some new friends.) There are an many approaches you can take to get by these roadblocks to creativity.  The key, in most cases, is to get out there and shoot something.  There aren't any hard and fast rules here because we are all different.  A method that works for me may leave you completely uninspired.  Here are some of my ways around the occasional slump.

Shoot your favorite subjects to reduce the stress of being blocked.  I can photograph kids all day, so I get with my personal favorites - the grandkids.  Kids change so quickly that they always provide you with new material.  We all have loads of fun, and I have thousands of photos that my family actually appreciates. You may choose some completely different subject matter, but the point is to take all the stress away from your photography.  Shoot something that you enjoy, and get your mojo flowing again.

A close up portrait of a little girl   A little girl's portrait, taken at a party

OR...  Shoot something you never shoot.  Part of your problem may be that you're in a rut and not pushing yourself to try something new.  Pick something way out there - something no one would expect you to shoot.  You don't have to make an Ansel Adams quality image, just make an image that is properly exposed and holds your interest in some way. Forcing yourself to see in different ways can help you push past the wall and can help you expand your skill set.

An abstract, close up of hair   An abstract in Boston, MA, USA

Go somewhere interesting.  Go to a museum; visit a local attraction; take a local photowalk.  It doesn't have to be far from your home.  There are probably plenty of interesting subjects withing walking distance of your front door.  Of course, if you have the vacation time and the money for a ticket, traveling to a distant location can be fun, too.  Travel is a passion of mine, and I try to go somewhere far from the house every year.  New locations provide an immediate interest because you're seeing things you haven't seen before.

Water tower in Warrenton, VA, USA  Puffins on a cliff in Alaska

By now, you've already come up with ideas I haven't listed.  Go spend some time viewing other photographers' images for inspiration.  How about limiting your session to just one lens?  How about using setting yourself a challenge to shoot primarily just one color or shape?  How about....  See, we're past the block.  It wasn't that bad after all.  Now, get away from the internet, and go have some fun.