How to Break Out of a Creative Rut and Never Look Back


It's similar to writers block, only it's not your pen that comes to a halt, it's your camera. Some call it a rut, a hole, or a dry spell. Regardless of your chosen term, we've all been there at some point. Yet, with a bit of effort you can dig yourself out and never turn back. Here are some ideas to keep your creative engines running strong.

  • Study the master painters

Ever notice how Rembrandt utilizes strong contrast in his work?  How about the ominous clouds and dramatic light commonly used by Ivan Aivazovsky?  Check for yourself, and you'll see patterns emerge.  Then, mix it up and immerse yourself in a couple of abstract pieces by Odilon Redon. Jot down what moves you and why. Even if you detest the piece, be sure to get the idea out of your head and onto paper. By having a better understanding of what you like and don't like, you'll have a clearer picture of what you want to create with your camera. 

  • Movie night, photography style

I'm often inspired by a great flic, and there are many for photographers to choose from. Here's a few to get you started.

Jim Brandenburg - Chased by the Light

Half Past Autumn - The Life and Works of Gordon Parks

At Close Range with National Geographic - Joel Sartore

Henri Cartier-Bresson - The Impassioned Eye

American Photography - A Century of Images


  • Join a local camera club

Photographers of all experience levels participate in clubs throughout the country. Most have fun outings, informative lectures, exhibitions, and monthly competitions. It's a great way to share your passion with other like minded individuals. To find a club in your area, check this list.  



  • Take a one lens road trip

Grab the lens you use least and drive somewhere new. It doesn't have to be a scenic overlook, or a thundering waterfall. The idea is to pick a town or park you've never been to, and photograph it. For extra credit, try shooting at your widest aperture the whole day. No pressure here, just you and your camera documenting what you see.

  • Burn your photography magazines

You know, the ones that tell you what gear you must buy if you want to shoot like a pro. After your little bonfire, pick up one of these books. Instead of flipping through endless pages of ads, you'll be treated to the ideas and methods of some truly creative photographers.



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