Avoid the Creative Funk

May 14, 2009 / by / 5 Comments

It happens to us all.  We are going strong for a while and then one day we wake up and don’t feel like doing anything.  We don’t feel like going out to shoot and we don’t feel like working through our workflow or the like.  I wish I knew exactly what causes this behavior, but I’m not a Psychologist – and I’m fairly certain that no one has been able to pinpoint with any precision the inner workings of the human mind.  We’re human.  Let’s just chalk it up as that.  What I can say, however, is that through my own experience, I have discovered these few tips that have helped to keep my mind working and to keep me out of the creative funk:

  • Develop a Routine – Curiously, the chaotic nature of the creative process seems to be promoted by order.  Even more curious, a chaotic life stunts your creative mind.  I find that if I set aside regular times during the week to shoot or work through my workflow, I stay on top of things, won’t feel overwealmed and somehow my brain is trained to be more creative at those times.
  • Focus – With set times to shoot, I sometimes fall short of ideas for what to shoot.  I find that I do best when I pick a very specific subject and look to shoot specifically that.  For example: Last week, I picked rocks. So I shot nothing but rocks.  Can’t settle on something?  Maybe use the newspaper or your latest blog and select the first noun you see.
  • Shoot Cliches - This may sound odd, but sometimes I feel inspired by shooting the same things everyone else does.  In tourist towns, you see those signs advertising “Kodak Moments”.  Shoot those.  Shoot the sunset on the beach, shoot the first flowers of spring, shoot yourself in a mirror with your camera.  From cliche shots like that, you’ll likely learn to add your own twists.
  • Shoot Yourself -  As I’ve mentioned before, self-portraits are a fun way to learn.  It’s also a great way to spark creativity.  So if all else fails, shoot yourself (with a camera).
  • Shoot Silly – In high school, my photography teacher created an assignment where she wanted us to shoot silly.  She was speaking about the technique.  One kid shot everything with his camera upside-down (pressing shutter must have been weird).  Another made sure her finger or hand was in every shot.  I purposely avoided the viewfinder, shooting arbitrarily at things from the hip.  It was a fun exercise, and you’ll be surprised how many great shots you’ll get.
  • Mimic Styles – Imitation is the best flattery – or so the saying goes.  But if you’re the person doing the imitation, it’s also an excellent way to learn and gain inspiration.  Try to mimic the styles of your favorite photographers – they don’t have to be famous.  In the effort, you may figure out how they do it.  Better yet, you may figure out your own style.  Either way, you win.

How do you stay inspired and avoid the creative funk?


About the Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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