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!