I’ve been there: uninspired and in a creative rut. In fact, I was just there! Recently while traveling, I couldn’t feel the need to pull out my fancy dSLR and take pictures of the things that I witnessed and was brought joy from. And while I believe that every artist falls in and out of creative inspiration at some point, I found some ease-filled, present ways that got me excited to take photos again. The biggest way being to allow myself to feel this way. By simply allowing myself to not always be creating, my creativity came back to me. It’s almost like forcing or pushing our creativity and the need to constantly be producing out of us stifles it! But by allowing ourselves to feel this way, with no judgement or guilt associated energies, we make room for inspiration in our lives.
As artists, we have to be compassionate with our craft. We have to give it breathing room, space to be inspired and create again. And while sometimes it can take as little as a few days or as long as a few months, I found these five ways re-inspired me to take photos and play with the editing in Lightroom. May this bring inspiration to you in your creative art-forms if you ever get stuck in a rut!
Take a Free Online Class
I love taking classes online! In fact, I am always learning and in some sort of class. Whether it’s a class on marketing, watercolor painting, or playing with light for photography, I am always eager to learn and improve on my skillset. One of my favorite ways to get re-inspired by photography, and art in general, is to take free classes online with CreativeLive!
CreativeLive classes range from psychology to email list-building, from painting and ceramics to travel photography. They have a ton of different options, and the best part about them? When classes are “on air” and playing live, they are free! I’ve taken tons of live photography and editing classes with CreativeLive, as they are live for 24 hours, so after working my 9-5 day jobs last year, I would come home and take an editing or photography class! If I find the class to be extremely valuable that I would want to rewatch many times, I buy it! Personally I loved Elena Blair’s lifestyle family photography class and bought it for $37! Skillshare also offers classes, but I haven’t tried them out yet!
Experiment and Play
I often get uninspired by photography when I find myself playing by the rules. To fix that, I take the pressure off and play! Playing and experimenting and getting curious about things that light you up often lead me to discovering new inspiration. Last year while in New York City, I went to the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo to get some traditional shots for my blog. After taking a few shots on my tripod, I wasn’t feeling inspired or happy about my images, so I decided to try something completely new and experimental. I held my camera up, lowered my shutter speed to about 20 seconds and softly shook my camera while focusing on the Brooklyn Bridge at “blue hour”, just after sunset.
I ended up getting some interesting, artistic shots – just by playing and being curious! It was fun! And it brought some joy back to playing with my camera, which is why I picked up my first camera in the first place! As humans, we naturally love to play, share and create. Why not embrace the curiosity and playful nature of ourselves and try something new?
Break Out A New Lens
One super easy way that I get reinspired by photography is by choosing only one lens to practice and play on for a short period of time. For example, instead of bringing my usual favorite travel lens, I bring a trusty fixed 50mm lens and only use that! A prime lens forces me to move around, get on my knees and experiment with new compositions. Sometimes, I’ll just bring my Instax camera, snapping polaroids for myself and the people I meet along my travels.
Whether it’s playing with a new lens that you don’t normally work with or giving yourself a themed scavenger hunt each week, such as photographing something that tells a story with a particular color, shape, or message, changing it up and giving yourself a task to create something new works wonders. To come up with something I wouldn’t normally do asks me to be open-minded, present and observant of what I notice in my day-to-day life. Just don’t forget to pack your camera each day! You never know when inspiration will strike.
Explore a New Landscape
Traveling is the number one way that I get re-inspired by photography. Witnessing new landscapes and meeting people from different parts of the world is my constant source of inspiration. Often I find I am most inspired and itching to create when I travel somewhere exotic and completely different from my hometown, like Egypt or Indonesia, but I also find I can get just as much inspiration by visiting a nearby town or city! Varied landscapes, shapes and colors draw me in. New experiences, new interactions, the way the sun sets in a new location or the way the shadows fall on a building I’ve never seen before – these are all ways that get the creative juices flowing!
Visiting art galleries, museums and photography exhibits are also ways I get inspired by photography again. It can be a single photograph in a massive gallery that has the exact color palette, tones and composition that will send me off on a creative burst! Recently that has looked like a pop-up photography exhibit in my city of Strasbourg, a photography slideshow from local photographers playing on a television screen in a cafe, a magazine ad, or a blog post. It can look like a particular set of tones from an Instagram picture. Or it can be while watching an interaction between a mother and her child at the local park. Moments of creative inspiration are everywhere, begging us to take a look, if only we ask and patiently observe the present moment. Which brings me to the most important tip…
Observe the Present Moment
That moment is right in front of you. Our callings, our inspiration – it’s always right in front of us, waiting for us to look up. It’s sitting there, smiling, and waiting for us to see it and take action when we feel inspired. Some might call it magic or destiny. Others may call it a coincidence. But I find my greatest inspirations have always been glaringly obvious right before my very eyes. Take this engagement session at Neuschwanstein Castle I happened to stumble upon for example: I was bored of taking landscape photographs, uninspired by travel photography and wishing I could photograph a portrait or two at this iconic Disney-inspired castle. Of course, it just so happened that when I looked up from the hiking path, I saw a proposal happen and photographed an amazing couple in Germany – the minute after they got engaged! What a gift from inspiration!
The moments are always there, my friends. It’s like Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in Big Magic – that inspiration will be there prodding you, waiting for you to take a look before you wait too long, that the idea moves to somebody else. I find that it is true: that inspiration is there, waiting for us to take a closer look. and it’s waiting for us to take inspired action.
I’ve felt uninspired, unmotivated and not the least bit creative on many of my travels, but I’ve noticed that allowing myself to feel this way, to be compassionate with not only my art, but myself, and taking these above steps – and oftentimes just observing the present moment – creativity, passion, and inspiration always seems to flow back to me. I hope these tips help you on your creative journey as they have helped me on mine.
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