HOW TO: Fighting a creative rut

Creative Rut = Dead End?This post is mainly for photographers –but can apply to any creative out there— who find themselves stuck in a creative rut. This happened to me over the last few weeks and I know how frustrating it can be. Because of the Holidays, I had a slight pause in my personal project and, therefore, didn’t have the opportunity to shoot the type of photography I currently enjoy: staged shoots with strobe lighting, etc. I was also spending a fair amount of time updating my website and blog and got really absorbed by it. This stupidly led me to get stuck from a creative point of view. I didn’t event treat my camera to a little walk for some fresh air. I definitely needed to get the creative juices flowing back in my body!

Before starting, just a quick disclaimer:  this is what worked for me and I, in no way, intend to say this is a «one size fits all» solution. Anyway, here are some tips.

  1. Relax and unwind: In order to get myself away from the computer and all the activity going on (news, social media, website, blog, etc) I decided to read an actual paperback book. John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman inspired me quite a bit particularly in the sense I discovered most of this great artist’s songs are about things, people, places from his daily life in the suburbs of Liverpool.
  2. Stimulate your creativity by all means: Keep your eyes and ears wide open: look around, listen to music. You could also try something new. My girlfriend got me a ukulele for Christmas and learning, listening to and playing some tunes did me a world of good.
  3. Follow other photographers’ work and advice: Browsing through magazines, photography books, videos also helps. It’s all about getting new ideas.

I hope this will help you get out of your creative rut. We all get stuck there at some point. As a conclusion, here are some interesting words from fellow New York based photographer Jay Maisel that stuck with me:

  • always go out with your camera;
  • perform what he calls «visual push ups»;
  • while shooting, don’t force things. Be patient and they will come to you;
  • try to break out of your routine or comfort zone: shoot in portrait orientation if you tend to shoot landscape and vice-versa, if you generally focus on elements, train your vision to be wider;
  • try finding something new in an environment you already know.

Now I am eager to get back out there, create and share!

3 Responses

  1. Tweets that mention josh fassbind | blog | HOW TO: Fighting a creative rut --

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  2. Jean-Yves GRUFFAT

    Thanks for putting in words what I try to have in mind.
    Perhaps, I may add : share some moments with others photographers in some meetings (improvised – on the field, or scheduled)

  3. josh

    Thanks Jean-Yves. I completely agree with your addition but sometimes meeting with other photographers can lead to some gear or tech talk and take the focus away from creating… but it definitely is important to meet with others and share our passion!


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