Nov 24, 2022

Photography Creative Block? Kill It Fast!

Getting into a creative block, or rut, with your photography is ok. It happens to the best of us!

Hunter Scott
Hunter Scott
Photography Creative Block? Kill It Fast!

Ever get into a bit of a photography funk? Where you can’t seem to get into a groove and take good photos? I do, but I’ve figured out some things that help, and I think they’ll help you as well. 

Aside from the actions you can take to spur on your creative juice machine to make more creative juice, There are some things you should really look at beforehand. Don’t start treatment before a diagnosis after all! Firstly, make sure you're not punishing yourself for not feeling creative - it's ok. Then, think about what you've been doing, in creative and non-creative parts of your life. Once you've done this, then you can begin to focus on taking positive action. Hear me out.

Is It Ok To Have A Creative Block?

First off, you should never expect to be a creative god 100% of the time, and constantly be producing Sotheby's level art pieces in your lunch breaks at work. It’s natural for your creativity to come and go over time.

Of course, you’ll have things happen in your personal life outside of your art that will have an impact on this but even excluding all of that, artists often work in seasons

Photography Creative Block And How To Overcome It - Seasons
No, Not These Seasons (Calm Down Vivaldi)

The Four Seasons Of Creativity

One theory I’ve heard is called the 4 seasons of creativity. You start with REST where you don’t really do any work and you just recover from the exhaustion of deciding between Helvetica and Inter. (Just go with Helvetica)

Then you move onto CULTIVATION, where you start brainstorming, scrapbooking, and thinking of ideas.

After a while of this, you end up in the IDEATION season, where you’re figuring out exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your next project.

The fourth season is IMPLEMENTATION, which is exactly what it says on the tin. You work your ass off to make your project a reality, and then exhaust yourself for another season of REST

That’s just one internet blogger’s theory (not mine) - but it’s something to think about. There’s so much that goes into powering your creative juice factory that you sometimes have to look at external factors. If you’re stressed, you can’t be creative.

That’s not anti-hustle rhetoric, that’s a fact: when you get stressed, your body produces larger quantities of cortisol (stress hormone) which literally makes it harder for your brain to be creative. There’s a great article linked here if you’d like to fact-check me.

How To Fix And Recover From A Creative Block

Here’s a couple of things I do

ONE: Change up your process. Try out a new camera, new lens, new location, or subject. If you shoot street, try portraits, or landscapes! Maybe rent a different camera to what you’re used to. Maybe try editing in a completely different style to usual!

This can become a crutch if you rely on it though - you don’t have to travel or give yourself GAS to continue to be creative, so make sure you don’t fall into the novelty trap.

TWO: Do something with your photography outside of taking photos! It could be getting a darkroom setup going finally, and learning printing. It could be video or short films. Maybe you’ve been putting off making some Instagram reels so that you can be squashed into conformity by the evil social media algorithm machine. Think about what you can do with your photography outside of holding a camera and pressing the magic button. It might not even be directly related to photography! Maybe try drawing or painting photos you’ve taken, or writing poetry to go alongside them.

Photography Creative Block And How To Overcome It
My Dark(Bath)room - It's Very Therapeutic

One thing I’ve done recently to help me get out of this mental blocky-no-creative-juice in the tank feeling, is to finally bow down before Adobe InDesign, ask for forgiveness, and made a Zine! I’m quite proud of it. You can check it out here if you like.

The honest truth is, go easy on yourself. Being creative is hard work! Even though it can be incredibly fun and rewarding, you should keep in mind that in reality, it is going to exhaust you, it's going to take effort, and it's going to come and go like a boomerang on a windy day. Roll with the punches, create when you can, and make rest a priority.