Hitting a rut once in a while is an inevitable part of any creative pursuit. Photography is no exception. The following tips will help you mix up your routine and emerge from the rut shooting and editing better than ever before.
Explore New Locations
When you frequent the same locations with your camera over and over again, it may get difficult to see new possibility in them. Make a point to research new photography spots in your area or go a little further afield to explore potential locations. Keep a running list of favorite photography spots and new areas to explore. Clients will suggest the same locations or you’ll simply keep hitting the destinations that are most convenient. Having a list at hand will make it easier to branch out a bit.
Meet With Other Photographers
Getting to talk shop with and shoot alongside other photographers often proves extremely inspirational. You’ll gain new perspective on a wide range of photography elements from lenses to composition to editing and in turn, you can share your own insight. Seek out photo walks and photography clubs in your area. If there aren’t ready opportunities, organize your own photography meetup on Instagram or Facebook.
Get Inspired by Other Photographers
Find the best photographers you can on Instagram, and start following them. When you come across one of their images in your feed, consider what you do and don’t like about it. What works well in a great image? How can you apply this technique to your own photography? Seek out new photography accounts to follow on a regular basis to keep your feed fresh and interesting. You don’t owe it to anyone to follow them forever. If an account isn’t inspiring you anymore, don’t be afraid to unfollow it.
Experiment With a New Photography Style
When you shoot primarily or exclusively in one photography style, as most photographers do, it often becomes your entire world. Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while and dipping your toes in a different photography style will help you mix up your creative routine. There is a lot of freedom that comes with attempting architectural photography when you shoot and edit newborn photos day in and day out for clients. You never know when you’ll be able to apply a little experimentation in a new photography style to your own style. For example, trying street or architectural photography in an urban setting will make you consider framing for family photos in a whole new way.
Shoot With a Film Camera
Shooting with film when you’re accustomed to digital way will make you think more carefully about every single shot you take. Start bringing a film camera along on photo outings and make a point to take shots with it alongside your digital photos. Alternatively, plan a few local outings and only bring your film camera. The Canon AE-1 and Olympus OM-1 are both excellent starter film cameras that are readily available in working condition on eBay. Pick up a pack of Kodak Portra 400 color film or Kodak Tri-X 400TX black and white film.
Take on a Photography Challenge
Photography challenges provide prompts or give you assignments that will make you consider shots you wouldn’t normally take. A prompt can be anything from a color to an idea (i.e., a fun beach shot) to a specific technique (i.e., a back-lit portrait). Focus on using a challenge to push yourself creatively and don’t stress about creating tons of perfect images. If you get a handful of great photos out of a month-long photography challenge, consider it a success. Pinterest is an excellent resource for photography challenges. Simply do a search for “photography challenge.”
Take a Break
Sometimes shooting through a photography rut helps you persevere and came out stronger than ever. Other times shooting through the rut makes you more discouraged and sink further into a rut. When pushing through just isn’t working, it may be time to take a short break. Block out an upcoming week with no client sessions or stop bringing your camera along every time you’re taking a walk to the beach or the park. You’ll return from your break refreshed and excited to create new images again.
To Sum Up
Every photographer hits a rut at some point. Don’t freak out or get discouraged when you find yourself in this predicament. Know that you’re not alone and that by following tried and true advice, you’ll be back out in the field, creating photos that you love, very soon.
What do you do when you’re in a photography rut to get out of it?
Do you have any additional tips?
Rose Clearfield is a freelance writer and hobbyist photographer. She lives in southeast WI with her husband, son, and three cats. She bought her first DSLR in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. With an education background and a passion for writing, she loves helping people learn how to take better pictures.