How do you get over creative block


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Sep 12, 2013
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So i enjoy landscape photography above all, but recently i've had the hardest time to see interesting/compose pictures. I sort of feel hapless and inept and i'm starting to think that i may just not have that creative type of mind, but my rational side just sees it as a phase i'm going through. This may just be a scatter brain stream of thought. Do you folks have these types of moments where you feel the same? And how do you get over it? What advice is out there to help train the mind to think more creatively? I mean i know the trick between a good photograph and a great one is the light, but this may be too general of advice.
That's a tough one i'd have to chew on to figure out what that could be.
For me, it's often trying to do something that is just beyond my current capabilities.
hamlet, creative block is very common.
The good news is that if (when) you break through it, you can sometimes have a rush of new ideas and inspiration.
Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone might work but so might going deep within your comfort zone.
Maybe think back to when you were enjoying it most or doing your best stuff. Do the the things you know and do them well (maybe better than before).
The light and conditions may be against you or you're a bit bored with the same old stimuli, same places and scenes. Don't let that work against you.
Try working on a simple theme, you know, today I'm looking for colour combinations for example.
Or try not taking the camera out of the bag till you see something worthwhile, let the environment talk to you, reveal its treasures, feel it for a while then...... have a look through the lens, compose, look at forms, perspectives etc. and shoot the **** out of it.
You'll still probably only have a few good ones but do enjoy the process and you'll be back in form before you know it.
limr is on the correct path. Human nature pulls us toward predictability, but habit is the enemy of creativity. You need to change things up. I will list some things I am doing or have done over the years. I used to paint daily and these same things apply.

#1 For me, it is getting off my fat rump and getting some exercise. I am not lazy, I am a salesman by trade and do a lot of driving and I also write a fair amount of code so I'm sitting a lot. For me, exercise really gets the creative juices flowing.

#2 Believe it or not, I change the radio station and listen to different types music, this helps a little.

#3 I recently (few months) have been doing John Hedgecoe projects and these things are so different in that I have no idea what to expect. This makes me see things in a whole different view. Probably the single most beneficial thing for me on this list currently.

#4 Learn something new. I once took up learning scrap booking. It came to me on a whim one day as I walked into this arts and craft store to pick up some markers and these lady's were sitting at these long tables working on stuff. They were having a lot of fun so I asked what they were doing? They talked me into joining them every Saturday. I did it for about three months (couldn't take anymore bitching about their husbands). It did two things... made me a better husband and I used the techniques I learned to make my own scrap book plus incorporate it into painting. It took my painting to another level.

#5 Kept a running list of interesting things I see randomly. I still do this to this day. I then refer to the list and research each item on the internet on those boring days looking for something to do. About 10% of those items turn into a project. Example... many years ago (#9 on my list), I noticed pocket protectors so I wrote it down on the list I had just started. Well, I started taking pictures of them and asking the people what was each item for (no internet then). Some thought I was weird but most were proud to go through them. I eventually gathered enough photos and created a series of small paintings (postcards) of them, 42 in all. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, homeless, etc. I then hand wrote a simple greeting on back of them and mailed them to art dealers, family, and friends. The response was incredible. It can be the most mundane object, sometimes, they are the best.

Hope you find something in this that helps you.
I recall reading articles about a "new" photographer who was putting out amazing images. In fact, the images were so amazing, that several wondered if the images were genuine (were they really made by that photographer, etc.) because no "new" photographer should be able to put out work that good so soon after starting.

It turns out that while the artist was "new" to the DSLR camera, they were not "new" to art. This person had a considerable background education in art. Learning photographer to them, was little more then learning the mechanics of camera operation... but things that other photographers have to learn (composition, balance, lighting, etc.) were things they had learned already.

Which brings me to my point... sometimes when I don't see whole photo-worthy scenes materialize in front of me, I instead just go looking for elements of interest.

Increasing your awareness of photographic elements might help your eye spot photo opportunities that you were previously passing over.
I have run into creative blocks more times than I can remember, but much of it was a result of being bored shooting the same things over and over, everything starts to look the same, even though to people looking at the images they don't seem to be the same. How I worked my way out of it, I would usually go sit in a spot to shoot from that I haven't shot from before, even if the spot didn't work out, it was usually enough to shake my brain a bit. I'd keep moving until I found a spot that did work.
I'm sure will get absorbed and very creative! :eagerness:
Go out for walks and leave your camera at home. Concentrate on hearing, smelling, feeling the world - don't bother about looking at all - or looking no more than is required to not fall over.
My main issue with creative blocks is that I have no way of knowing if I have one.

I only know if I like my pictures if I look at them again half a year later.
Oh yes, the dreaded creative block. :BangHead: I think everyone has their own ways of overcoming this since we each get inspired differently. First, try to assess what may have led to your creative block. Is it discouragement from some type of rejection or failed attempt? Is it that you have been pumping out too much work and you've exhausted yourself. (If this is the case, then just taking a good bit of leisure time would probably do the trick). Or are you just physically, emotionally and mentally tired/burned out; which could even be health related (so getting various health evaluations if you can may be something to consider). Some overall suggestions to start with:
  • taking a walk
  • clean up/organize your workspace
  • decorate your workspace or home
  • learn a new trick, tip or technique
  • practicing tutorials step by step
  • try a photo/photoshop challenge (or other types creative challenges) These can be found almost everywhere online.
  • experiment creatively :emmersed: (its totally fine if completely screw up the experiment, thats what experiments are for! As long as you don't harm yourself, anyone, or your expensive equipment!)
  • watching speed art videos, photography videos, related interviews etc
  • TED talks are always awesome for just the basic character challenges we often have to overcome on the regular
  • going to an art show or gallery
  • start up conversations with artists you know
  • meeting new artists
  • reading success stories
  • reading failure stories :excitement: (that tell how that someone went from rock bottom to the top. Very encouraging)
  • watch a artistic film (I watch a lot of anime or Lord of the Rings series)
  • visiting various inspiration websites (try being open to other medium forms such as painting, sculpture, design etc.)
  • or (for me) playing video games. Fantasy/sci-fi/adventure video games have great imagery that inspire my painterly work.
  • investing your time into something completely unrelated, until start to miss the creative work you were doing ("distance makes the heart grow fonder") lol.
  • eat pleasure food :fat: or healthy food (either one has their own way of making you feel good)
  • exercise (I'm guessing since the science say that exercise triggers dopamine release.... I think thats the happy chemical released in exercise. I dunno, I'm no doctor; I'm an artist lol).
  • lastly, posting on/viewing forums (as you are already doing)

Sometimes recreating different artworks are a great way to get over creative block. However, I am not recommending recreating specifically for claiming it as yours (unless your version is significantly different). You can share with others or keep to yourself. Just make sure when you share with others, you make your reasoning for recreation clear so your peers won't think your a copycat. Also be sure you are not infringing on copyright. Its just that recreating work takes the strain of have to think up a good idea, and it also may push you to explore new techniques and tricks which will add up to influencing your creativity.

The main thing I would avoid is comparing yourself to others skill wise, career wise, and financial wise. This may only lead to you beating yourself and that will land you in a creative prison. :confused-55: (if that makes sense lol)

(Now I wanna make a blog post about this lol).

Hope these suggestions help. :cheerful:
Best of luck to ya :highly_amused:

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