I’m currently sitting on Golden Beach in eastern Victoria looking out at the giant waves crashing onto the shore. Earlier this morning I climbed out of my tent into the darkness to witness the most amazing sunrise through the thick ocean fog that rolled in. I’ve just finished a coffee to kick start me after staying up late last night photographing the milky-way on this abandoned beach. To both my right and my left is a seemingly endless stretch of coastline that looks completely empty, not a soul in sight and certainly not something you experience in your day-to-day. I’m not here because I’ve got time on my hands, I’m here because for me this is a cure. For the past month or so, winter has taken it’s toll on my creativity. I’ve had that uninspired feeling and whilst I know it’s the best time of year to be out shooting there is just something that I haven’t been able to get past… In the industry it’s known as photographers block and from hobbyists to professionals we all experience it from time to time. In today’s tutorial I’m going to share with you my top tips for overcoming this feeling as well as share with your some responses I got from friends and fellow photographers who are leaders in their field. I’d also be really interested to know if this is something you’ve experienced? Maybe you have some tips for fellow readers? Jump onto my Facebook page and share your tips or send them in an email for me to share.
1. Stop social media
Nothing is more disheartening than seeing amazing photographs from around the world and feeling like you’re just not up to scratch. Social Media presents us all with some amazing opportunities to be inspired but it can also bog us down with photographs that for some are completely unachievable, usually because of geographical and seasonal factors rather than talent. Try and switch off from photo sharing sites and groups from Friday morning until Monday morning, give yourself an opportunity to think clearly about your own visions rather than being influenced by others.
2. Put away your favourite toy
If you’re anything like me when it comes to photography you’ve suffered from G.A.S at some point (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Over time we develop a love for particular camera ‘toys’ be it a favourite lens, a remote trigger or maybe your filters? Put them away for the weekend. Go out and with just the camera and a single lens and challenge yourself to make the situation work for you. By leaving your go-to gear behind you relive the pressure we all put on ourselves to achieve perfection in our images and as a bonus, when you capture an amazing photo with the striped-back kit you can be pretty chuffed that it was all you and not the fancy toys.
3. Find a new place
There is nothing less inspiring than visiting the same place over and over again without any significant change to the circumstances, isn’t that similar to what Einstein defined as insanity? Sure I love to visit the same location at different times or the day and year but if like me you sometimes find yourself heading to the same place each week it’s time to change things up. Download the app ‘Wikicamps’ which lists thousands and thousands of campsites in Australia. Pack the car and take off to somewhere different, somewhere you have no idea about… how do you think I came to be sitting on this beach writing my Tuesday Tutorial?
4. Learn a new technique
I’m all about promoting workshops, that’s what I do for a living but take away my own personal bias and it’s still the most effective method for curing photographers block. I always say that the greatest thing about photography is that no-one is ever wrong which means that infinite styles and techniques exist to take the same scene or subject. Getting out photographing with different people who have different styles, tips and techniques is the best way to reinvigorate your creativity.
This week I also reached out to some well-known photography friends to ask them about the techniques they use to get over photographers block. Some of these guys live the life most people dream of, from full time travel photography to professional light painting so take note that even the most inspiring people can fall victim to the curse:
Denis Smith – Light painter, educator and film maker
“I am Denis Smith, a passionate light painter, educator and film maker. There are many days I think about my photography with the most intense self doubt along with fear of not being good enough. Often I just ride it out, but I find looking back at positive comments from clients helps along with a big dose of “get out and shoot something different”. I often recommend this to others struggling, try hard to do something extreme, shoot everything at iso6400 or take your next 100 images sitting on the ground, just something to really push the boundaries.”
Check out Denis’ light painting workshops hosted in Geelong Vic
Sam Hesketh – Founder of Twisted Atlas
“I am a travel photographer with a passion to deliver beautiful images of our world, from where many will never step foot. I become falsely unmotivated by poor lighting conditions and uncooperative subjects, this normally happens when I expect one thing and get dealt another. As far as travel photography goes, I feel the best way to overcome this is to slow down. Instead of searching for the one or two shots I came for, which were perhaps influenced by other photographers collections. I spend time walking around the area at least 3 or 4 times with my camera out. The beauty of a photograph is that they are unique to the time and place. The idea of documenting this particular moment which can rarely happen again is the very essence of what photography was built on. As a side note for beginners I would very much recommend taking a course in natural light photography, learning how to instinctively feel the ambience caused by different lighting conditions is vital to becoming an excellent photographer.”
Chris Eyre-Walker – Adventure, outdoor and travel photographer and Olympus Visionary
“My name is Chris Eyre-Walker, I’m a 26 year old adventure, outdoor and travel photographer and Olympus Visionary.
I sometimes lose my inspiration when I find myself staring at too many other photographers’ work. It’s ok to look for inspiration – but too much can be too much and I just end up being frustrated that I’m not shooting this type or level of work myself.
Then I usually realise that by sitting in a room and staring my screen there’s no way I’ll ever get those shots I admire… for me personally there’s no better way to overcome photographers block than actually going out and shooting photos. It’s a simple as that.
Switch OFF the virtual world and switch ON your camera!”
So as you can see we are all prone to a little photographers block some times but there are ways to cure it! If you’ve enjoyed this article and have taken something away from it why not share it with your photography friends? Jump onto my Facebook Page and join me each week with fresh tips, tricks, tutorials and inspirations to get your creative juices flowing!
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