We all have to face it. Sometimes, we just get burned out on our photography. We feel like we are not good enough, not creative enough, not talented enough, not meeting the expectations that we set for ourselves. We get tired of constantly picking up the camera and trying to find something unique. We feel like we have worn out our welcome and dried up the possibilities where we are. It can be depressing. But, thankfully, it usually passes after it has run its course. Also, thankfully, there are some things that we can do to try to re-energize ourselves.
1. Go Back to Your Roots: What brought you to photography? Why did you start shooting? What did you start shooting? What is your favorite subject to shoot? Whatever that subject is, shoot it more. Bringing yourself back to your beginning is a great way to remind yourself of why you do this. Embrace that interest again.
2. Try Something New (and a little crazy): Kyle and I intentionally blur photos. We have done this for years. And, you know what; it's fun and easy. Just select a slower shutter speed (1/10 second to 1/2 second or even longer). Now move the camera while it is shooting. Try different subjects. Try different movements (vertically, horizontally, wavy lines, etc.). Be creative and open to anything. Many of the photos will be complete throw-aways, but a few might even become your favorites. This is also a great way to get yourself into a more creative mode when you are out shooting.
3. Go to an Art Museum: This is pretty simple. Looking at other art can be a form of inspiration for you. Even better, find an exhibit featuring a photographer or photography in general.
4. Look through Magazines on Photography, Art, Travel, etc: This goes with #3. By looking at other forms of art, you can find new ideas, new ways of looking at the world. You may even want to try another medium yourself. I have tried painting. I'm not good at it. I have tried sketching. I'm okay at that. Cut out the images that you like and keep them in a folder or binder so that you can refer to them later.
5. Plan a Trip, even if you know you won't go: I recently read something somewhere stating that we can derive pleasure from the simple act of planning a trip, even if we cannot go. Pick a place you want to visit someday. Research locations you want to see. Find a place to stay. Check on rental cars and plane tickets. Check road maps for the best way to get from one spot to another. Really dedicate yourself to it. Have fun and let your dreams run wild. I do this all the time.
6. Take a Walk: Go for a walk around your house, neighborhood, apartment, etc. and really look at everything. Try to see things with fresh eyes. We often overlook the beauty that we see everyday. Look for patterns and textures. Look high and low. Take notice of things you may have completely overlooked because you see them everyday.
7. Detail Shots of Ordinary Things: Fill a jar with slips of paper with the names of common household items: spoon, toothbrush, pen, pillow, etc. Select a slip of paper at random and try to make a great photo of whatever it is. For added fun, let other people in the house add to the slips of paper.
8. Go on a Photo Scavenger Hunt: You can do this several different ways. You can collect photos of things starting with each letter of the alphabet. You can collect photos of things that look like each letter of the alphabet. You can make a list of concepts or phrases, like the fork in the road above, and shoot those. You can do an online search for photo scavenger hunts. You can have your family help you come up with a list. There are a lot of possibilities here.
9. Join our Facebook Image Makers Group! (or any other active group of photographers): Kyle and I started a private FB Group called Bear Creek Photography NC Image Makers. The group is dedicated to learning and sharing and is full of photographers of all ages and levels of experience, from children to seniors, from newbies to professionals. We have a photo assignment each month. All you have to do is shoot something that expresses the subject of the month. For example, "hot" was the topic for August. The assignment is due on the 2nd of each month. That is also when we post the next assignment. We do a "contest" with the monthly submissions where anyone can vote for their favorite. The photo with the most votes become the cover image for the Image Makers group for the next month. Our goal is to get everyone shooting. Even if you don't have a great idea or a lot of time, just getting some concept on "film" could lead you to developing that concept further and into an amazing photograph. We also share other things we are shooting. Members ask for advice on all topics in photography, and Kyle and I offer critiques for anyone interested. We have found that we learn so much more from the photos that just weren't quite what we wanted than from our best photos. The group is active and positive, and we plan to keep it that way! If you are interested in joining the group, you can private message us, and we will add you. We can provide a lot of inspiration to each other.
We all get into a rut sometimes. We have to just pull up our bootstraps and keep shooting. I hope the ideas above can help you when this happens to you. These ideas are also a great way to have some fun with your photography and to develop your skills even more. No matter what - HAVE FUN!
Happy Shooting Out There!