Top 10 ways to Rediscover your Creativity

The “Block.” It is what keeps us from tapping into the creative side of our brains and producing great photography. Whenever you find yourself struggling to find inspiration in your photography, here is a list of 10 ways to rediscover the world around you and get you shooting again:

recommendedLensesOkay let's be real, buying new gear is probably the last on your list. It is just extra money we most likely don't have right now. However, we need to have the right gear for the right shoot and using our favorite kit lens for everything is not the solution to getting creative again. So if you are looking at taking more landscapes but all you have is a 70-200mm lens… look at getting the right lens to allow you to take the landscapes you wished you could.  If funds are in short supply, consider renting a lens for a weekend shoot.

If you are interested, we have a list of gear we have tried and tested here: Recommended Gear

Joining a photo group (I happen to know an awesome online community....) is a great way to get inspired by others

This can actually be really inspiring for some people. It might even be helpful for those who are just learning about photography and need some one-on-one help with the camera and instant feedback about the shots you're taking. There is a website called www.meetup.com that allows you to search for groups of interest in your local area.

Another benefit in joining a group like this is that you'll be with other people taking photos of the same thing (most likely) and you will have the chance to see their vision. I have been apart of several groups like this and it is extremely interesting to see how many different photos are created out of the same scene.

Photographer learning the craft as he shoots a sunrise

This can be as basic or extreme as you would like. It could be a side of town you don't often visit or a whole new city (or even country) you would like to visit. Sometimes getting out of the simple routine of life and allowing ourselves to see what is around can make a world of difference.

It is for the same reason we like to visit attractions away from where we live as opposed to seeing the ones in our own background. It's different.

Prints for clients!

There are a lot of photo sharing websites out there that you can search. Go ahead and search for the photography that you are interested in doing. The more photos that you look at, the more your mind will be looking at everything with that photographic eye. Already planning composition and the final outcome of the shot. That usually only comes when you start to consume as many photos online as possible.

To go along with visiting new places – you can download the Stuck On Earth app for iPad and search around for posted photos in the area you're visiting. The photos you find here are hosted on Flickr and geotagged.

Another website that might be of interest to you is called: Fluidr.com.
It's also supported by Flickr. You can search for topics, locations, photos shot with a certain lens or focal length, camera, etc.  I have spent some time looking around on this website and there is some pretty cool photos that come across.

takingmacroreflections21Sometimes there are little things we can do ourselves to create an effect in our photos. Whether it's creating a shower of sparks in an engagement photo or a simple light modifier for your macro photography. You just never know where your creativity will take if you find the right project to do.

Depending on what you do – it might even transform that same scene you've photographed  a million times.

Some of you might have even wrinkled your nose when you read this one. That is fine, however, some of us find our creative block in not having a theme or purpose to photograph. A contest will set the perameters of what you can photograph and even encourage you to step up your game because you know it will be judged against others.

There are a lot of local and online photography contests that you can search for and participate in. Also, there are county fair photo contests (if you are here in the USA) that you can enter into. You don't have to be professional for some of these contests as they will most likely have amateur, semi-pro, and pro categories.


sparklers on the fourth of july
Fireworks photography

If you are bored with the photos you take, maybe it is time to consider looking at other styles of photography to try out. You don't have to be amazing at them, you're just experimenting with the concept of them. If you do landscapes… take your family out for a mini shoot for some portrait photography. Maybe macro photography is something you've thought about but haven't done.

Whatever you decide, I would suggest that you go online and look for photos in that style to give yourself some ideas of what others are doing. At this point I would not worry about being creatively different from what you find online, but rather just work at recreating it and then add your own touch to it.

I see this every day with the students in my online flash photography class.  They constantly email me and let me know how EXCITED they are about their photography after learning how to work with lighting.


Winning photo
Overall Winner – Edited by Donnis Sealey

Photo for editing contest

Some of you have caught yourself saying that there is nothing to take a picture of where you are. That may very well be true, but have you thought of compositing photos together?

For this to be a success – I would start taking photos of just sunsets or sunrises. I would take photos of interesting flower beds, buildings, and so on. Once I have a decent library of different scenes, I would start to Photoshop them together to create one image. Others can argue that “that's not how it was,” but at this point you are creating digital art with what you have to work with. You're finding interest in the world around you – which is important.

OffCameraFlashFEATUREA lot of new beginning photographers are afraid of the speedlight. Which is completely fine and to be expected – but if you are comfortable with your camera and have not bought a flash gear set, I would suggest that it is time. It's going to be the next major step in your photography and will most certainly be worthy of your attention.

Adding light into your photos can be one of the most exciting things you will ever start to play around with in your photos. Being in control of the highlights and shadows and how the light falls on your subject really starts to add to your creativity. Flash is not just limited to portraits. You can use flash with nearly every style of photography and you have complete control over it.

It's something I would suggest and you can check out our Flash Gear Page with the basic kit starting at $130.

No matter how obvious this suggestion might be, it's a big deal. Take time to be the best you can be at the style you love. To help with that, I want to challenge you to go back into your photo archives and find a photo you loved at one point and recreate it. Use every bit of new skill you have gained and recreate that photo using the same concept. Think back to what was going through your mind at the time you took that photo – can you do anything different to improve it? What else could you do? The answers you come up with help you perfect your favorite style of photography.

This will allow you to see how much you have improved over time and restore any lost confidence in your ability as a photographer.

5 thoughts on “Top 10 ways to Rediscover your Creativity”

  1. Great post! I love attending photowalks and meeting new photographers from around the area. Have met a lot of great friends from Google+ meetups and such. We pretty regularly meet up in various places to go shoot. Portland, Corvallis waterfront, The Gorge just a couple weeks ago. This coming weekend a few people are coming to the coast where I live to shoot some sunsets as one of them shoots primarily sports.

    That ties right into the shooting a new style or something different. It’s great to get out at different times of the year. There’s a beach here that uncovers a bunch of beautiful rocks during the winter, and they are completely covered in sand during the summer. I never knew that until recently!

    There’s no shortage of inspiration to be had, but finding something that does inspire you is harder than it may seem for some. Posts like these are excellent ways to get people thinking about different things to try.

  2. You disparage the 70-200mm lens for landscapes in #10, but I disagree! Yes, it helps to have a wide angle, but if you don’t have that, use what you’ve got to get creative. Buying new gear in and of itself doesn’t make one more creative.

  3. @Rick – I don’t think Dustin said “buying new gear in and of itself makes you more creative.”

    If you’re in a creative rut, a new piece of gear can help you to think about your photography differently, which is the key to creativity.

    And I’m living proof of that being true. My portraits began to be MUCH more creative when I got basic flash photography tools. It allowed me to CREATE what was in my mind instead of just dealing with available light.

    No one is saying you have to have gear to be creative. Nonsense. The point is that it can help you think differently.

  4. @Jim – Good point, and I probably read that wrong. Going to a full frame last year in effect gave me a whole new outlook on my own photos. I just see so many people saying that their photos will get better when they get a new lens/camera/filter/tripod/backpack/coffee mug. Ok, maybe not the coffee mug, but you know what I mean.

    Dustin had made reference specifically to “only” having a 70-200 for landscapes, but there are a lot of really good photographers out there shooting landscapes with it! I can’t imagine leaving home without mine.

    BTW, thanks for all the great things you guys are doing here! I subscribe to your podcast and always look forward to reading your new posts.

  5. I personally find that #8 (going somewhere new) is the biggest contributor, at least for me as a landscape photographer. You can so easily get caught up when in your own local surroundings, and falling into a habit of approaching shoots the same way, every time.

    New locations allow you to see things with “fresh” eyes, which might mean getting that shot that is unique or that no one else has considered 🙂

    Big part of my “development” also means looking and researching other photographers works – it can be such a massive inspiration to just get out there and get new shots 🙂

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