Curing Photographer’s Block

You’ve heard of writer’s block, but what about photographer’s block? When you get your first camera, everything seems new. You want to photography your life and world as much as possible. But longtime photographers know the rut that is photographer’s block. It can mean that you’re just completely uninspired by what you see around you, or it could mean that you only want to photograph one particular thing or use one particular style. Whatever the case, it can become difficult to stay creative. Use these exercises to help cure photographer’s block.

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Through the lens. by Adam Hinett

Focus on focal length.

If you always use a fixed length lens, challenge yourself to use a varied focal length lens for a day or a week or a month. Or, if you’re used to using a zoom lens, practice keeping the lens at a fixed length for a time. Consider trying a type of lens you’ve never used, such as macro, telephoto, tilt-shift, or wide angle. If you don’t want to invest in new glass, rent a lens from a local camera shop or an online rental service.

Learn a new skill.

A fun part of photography is its endless possibilities. Read about a feature on your camera that you’ve never used. Take a class in photojournalism, film photography, or digital printing. Try your hand at videography or iPhoneography. Practice your Photoshop skills. There’s always something else to learn or to try. You’ll be inspiring creativity and strengthening your technical skills simultaneously.

Stray off your beaten path.

Is there a subject you always avoid? Choose a type of photography that you usually stay away from, whether it be portraiture, landscapes, street photography, or something else. Sometimes practicing on subjects you think you don’t enjoy photographing opens your eyes up to new ideas and possibilities.

Go on a field trip.

Day to day life takes its toll on creativity. Fitting time to take photos into a day can be a feat. Set aside a few hours for a photography field trip. Choose a place that’s interesting to you and have nothing on your agenda other than photographing. If possible, get into the habit of taking this photography break every week.

Look at pictures.

Take some time to look at other photographers’ work in books or galleries. Admire the work of master photographers. Carefully critique photos that you like and do not like and ask yourself why you feel the way you do about them. Sometimes seeing someone else’s art inspires creative projects or helps you see your own style more clearly.

Give yourself a project.

There are plenty of ideas to be found online for photographers facing a creative rut. Projects range from weekly self-portraits to photo essays to daily photographs. If you love to cook, try a cookbook project for your family recipes. Create a photo essay about an important issue in your community. Having an assignment keeps you pressing the shutter when you otherwise might feel stuck.

At some point, all photographers experience photographer’s block. At its worst, it can cause an artist to set down his or her camera forever. But with the right exercises, creativity comes back time and time again.

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Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit nicoalprice.com for more info.

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