Get Out of That Photography Rut
Bored with shooting the same ol', same ol'? If you're like the rest of us, malaise is destined to happen eventually but there are lots of things you can do to breathe new life into yourself... and your camera. Here's ten ways we recommend.
1) Shoot something new
If you're a portrait or a wedding photographer, you do the same thing all the time. Why not point that lens at something else: A sunset, people on the street, flowers in your garden, skateboarders at the park, the Milky Way? You may discover new ways to use your existing gear that you never would have thought of before.
And who knows! You may even end up finding a new niche.
2) Find a group to shoot with
Nothing lifts the mood like a smile, and there's tons of that at a photo walk. Social sites like Meetup.com and Google+ are only two of many options where you can find like-minded photographers like you getting together to shoot something fun. It's always inspiring to see what other people are using and doing, and you may end up making a few new friends, too.
Better yet, if you're thinking about organizing your own photo walk, we have some tips for you.
3) Shoot a theme
Sometimes the way to stretch yourself is - yes, it's weird - to limit your boundaries. Try taking pictures of just red things, a series only looking upwards, or any series you can think of with a common theme. You'll find yourself liberated by the rules, grounded by great focus, and perhaps even seeing something new in the mundane.
Try uploading those photos into a single, themed gallery, too. You might like the result!
4) Rent something new
With companies like Borrowlenses.com out there, it's so easy to take your dream lens for a spin. From macros to mega-zooms, you can get anything you want shipped to your door and enjoy it for as little (or as long) as you like. Especially great for getting to use highly specialized lenses like fisheyes, which pack a lot of punch mixed up in with your regular portfolio offerings.
And did you know that Borrowlenses is part of our ClubSmug? They're offering logged-in SmugMuggers a special discount on your next lens rental, so why wait?
5) Try a Daily Photo project
Daily photo projects aren't a new concept, but there's a reason why they're still around. It's pretty neat to take a picture every day, whether you frame it with a common theme or just take a picture of whatever you're doing at a certain time each day. It may not be high art and you may miss a day here or there, but it still gets you thinking about shooting each day without the stress of your business or a client. It's YOUR time, YOUR life. Enjoy it!
At the very least, they make fantastic time capsules. Going through your photo diary ten years later is priceless.
6) Take a break from shooting
At the other end of the spectrum, you may just need a break. Put the camera down but don't get stagnant -- go hiking, pick up a paint brush or a pencil, read a great book, take your kids to the park, or do yoga. Try new things that don't flex your photography muscles, and you may find your creativity growing back.
7) Take a workshop
Some people thrive in the formal education environment. Is that you? With the boom of digital photography workshops of all types, you're bound to find a way to learn something totally new, and find the best environment for you, to boot. From one-day classes to week-long trips, you can take up a brand-new photo skill and actually get good at it in relatively short time.
8) Look at other people's art
Taking an afternoon to the museum could be the best thing you ever did for your craft. Switch gears, stop stressing about creating your own art and take a look at what others have done before you. The timeless work of old masters or the trailblazing pieces of new ones will inspire, stretch and get your brain thinking in great new ways.
Similarly, take a look through photo blogs and social channels to see what other photographers are doing. You may be inspired to try something new in the format you're already familiar with. No need to trek down to the art store.
Nothing gets the soul going like travel. Speak, eat, look, immerse yourself in new cultures and notice new things. And you don't have to go far, unless you want to: You can experience a whole different side of your own town that you've never even noticed by volunteering at an organization, taking a walk to that park you've never visited, paying attention to local events and flyers posted on the street.
What's around your next corner?
10) Enter a contest
Sometimes a little friendly competition is just what you need to hone in and focus on your craft. Get the blood pumping with a photo contest where there's a set theme and (if you like) a tasty prize. Just be sure to check the rules and be sure that the way the organizers handle copyright and ownership of submitted images is OK with you.
We hope some of these methods work to breathe new life into your photo-passion. What are some things that you've done to rekindle your love for photography?