Photographers and writers share a lot in common.
Both practice to perfect their technique, both convey story and emotion through their craft and both benefit from deep wells of creativity.
Unfortunately, they also share something negative in common: block.
Just as a writer can feel stuck trying to find the right word or form a sentence, a photographer can’t find anything to photograph. The trained eye that can find fascinating subjects in mundane surroundings stops working.
Once photography becomes a constant in your life, at some point you’ll come up against a bad case of photographer’s block.
The good news is that there are three steps that you can take to get your creative juices flowing again.
Take Out Your Camera
This probably sounds like the dumbest advice of all time. Of course you have to take out your camera!
But let me take this advice a step further: make sure your camera is in your hand.
It’s not enough to have the camera in a bag on your shoulder, and it’s not enough to have it dangling from a strap around your neck. When you’re feeling blocked, you pass up photo opportunities due to a lame excuse: it’s too much effort to get the camera ready.
But when the camera’s in your hand, it’s always ready. You don’t have any excuse not to take the shot.
Once you take one, your right brain engages and you start seeing great photo subjects all around you.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Many photographers usually settle on a subject they like: flowers, people, buildings, food, pets or children. Let’s say that flowers are your passion. Once you’ve taken 1,000 flower photos you feel pretty comfortable with your subject.
When you’re feeling blocked, spend an entire day photographing something totally different: children, for example. Unlike flowers, they never stay still and aren’t willing to wait for you to adjust you camera settings.
It’s almost guaranteed that a lot of the shots that you take won’t turn out. This is to be expected – you are out of your comfort zone, shooting something brand new.
The benefit of this exercise is that it takes your mind away from your favorite subject long enough to see it differently when you get back to it.
Start With Your Shoes
This technique has worked well for me in the past when I’m just not thinking (and seeing) creatively.
I take pictures of my shoes.
I point the camera straight down, and try to find something interesting about the pattern, texture or color of my shoes to bring out in a photo.
Once you spend about 5 minutes trying to make your shoe look interesting, look up. You’ll suddenly see a wide variety of subjects far more interesting than your shoe.
If you approach those subjects with the same eye that you applied to your simple shoe, you’re bound to take some engaging photographs.