It’s common to lack inspiration and lose interest in creative hobbies like photography from time to time. It can be the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block, and means you don’t know what to shoot next. It doesn’t mean it’s time to pack away your cameras and look for a new pastime when this happens, you just need to try something different.
Struggling for inspiration can help you to become a better photographer in the long run. If you shoot the same subjects in the same way repeatedly, all your pictures will look similar. Forcing yourself to try new things and move beyond your comfort zone can have surprising results and take you in new directions.
Here are five surprising ways to find inspiration for photography.
1) Limit yourself to one camera and one lens
Buying new lenses and other gear can open new avenues in photography, but it can also lead to confusion. Having too many choices to make can slow you down. In the days of pinhole cameras, photographers could simply focus on the framing and composition of a shot. By limiting yourself to one camera and a prime lens, you force yourself to think differently.
It can also improve your approach to photography if you limit the number of pictures you take on a shoot. In the days of film cameras, you could have as few as ten shots on a roll. By restricting yourself in this way you have to make every shot count.
2) Get out of your comfort zone
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut in a creative art. If you’re shooting the same subject all the time this can happen without realizing it. Try your hand at something new, and push yourself in a new direction. If you’re used to shooting landscapes and travel shots, spend some time on portrait photography. If you struggle capturing action in photographs, attend some sporting events and improve your skills.
3) Ignore social media and develop your own style
Smartphones and social media have made photography more accessible and popular than ever. Thanks to filters and tools on apps like Instagram, it’s possible to create great pictures without any camera skills. Unfortunately, this means everyone’s shots can look very similar. Constant exposure to images of celebrities means that portrait photographs are often shot and processed in the same style. If you want to create a new look for your photographs, ignore what every else is doing and find your own style.
4) Study the work of great artists
Great painters and artists know how to use lighting and composition, and photographers can learn a lot from them. Painters observe shapes and form before they look at detail, and this can result in striking pictures. By visiting galleries and museums to study works of art you can find inspiring new ways to approach photography.
5) Try a different type of camera
By simply changing the type of camera you work with you can force yourself to take a fresh approach to photography. If you’re used to shooting with a digital SLR camera, switch to a mirrorless compact. The quality may not be what you’re used to, but you may find a smaller, lighter camera gives you greater speed and flexibility. Experiment with Polaroid instants, or invest in a second hand 35mm film camera.
Photography is a broad and exciting art, and there are endless possibilities for creating pictures. Follow the tips in this article for fresh ideas, and never be afraid to experiment with your camera.