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Every photographer experiences an inspirational rut from time to time. Although it can be discouraging, there are many ideas and techniques that can help you get through the challenges of artist’s block.
If you’re looking to reignite your passion for photography and bring a flow of new ideas and images to your work, consider some of the following exercises:
Try shooting a short tribute series of your favourite photographers to give some spark to your own style. Get outdoors and capture the essence of Ansel Adams. Take intimate portraits in ode to Annie Leibovitz. Try to a tell a story within your photographs like the great Yousuf Karsh. By experimenting with the different techniques, lighting and colour schemes of other photographers, you may find new ideas for your own work.
One of the best ways to add a new perspective to your photographs is to change your approach. By deciding on an unusual theme first and then searching for subjects that embody that theme, you may find yourself opening up your mind and your work. There are a wide variety of themes you can pick for a series of photographs. It can be an emotion like “frustration” or “love”, or maybe something more specific like “dogs in cars”.
Sometimes absorbing a variety of other art mediums can benefit a person’s photographs. Photography is about perspective, after all, which is why it’s good to see the world through the viewpoint of others. Get to a museum and soak up the colours and concepts of other artists. Sit down and listen to an album and focus on the way it makes you feel. Try to reawaken your senses and use these feelings in your own work.
Whether its on Pinterest, Instagram or on a wall in your office, make a point of collecting and displaying photographs that you like. Each photograph in your collection can be different. You might like the composition in one, or the colours and use of light in another– it doesn’t matter as long as it has caught your eye as a photographer. Look to these photos periodically and the qualities you enjoy are more likely to surface in your own work.
Once in awhile it is a good idea to sit down with your work and look for patterns. Make a list of the subjects you have a tendency to shoot, the composition you habitually use and any other stylistic trends. As soon as you understand what you have been consistently producing as a photographer, it becomes possible to see opportunities for change. For example, if you only shoot in black and white, try your hand at colour. Little changes like this do not have to be permanent, but they can help jump start your inspiration. While it is not uncommon to feel the frustration of an inspirational rut, it is important to remember that there are many ways in which you can find your muse again. Stay patient,if one particular exercise doesn’t inspire your work, try something else. A continued effort and an open mind always pay off in the end.