Creative Rut Anyone?

Creative Rut, Burned Out, Spent, Stuck, etc… Call it whatever you want, when you are in the business of being creative it happens. Look around, the good thing is, that you are not alone. Zack Arias made a video (“Transform”) for Scott Kelby‘s Guest Post Wednesday earlier this year that struck a chord with so many people. In fact to date, it is Kelby’s most popular blog post. If you haven’t seen it, please take a few moments and watch it below:

Well, what did you think? Each time I watch this video, it hits home, because I can relate so very well. He says,

When you are pushing 80 and lying flat on your back without the ability to speak… What will you be thinking? Shutter speeds, lighting, cool locations, that portrait series you made that was published in a magazine that no longer exists? Why is that so important now then?

Why is it so important now? I find that when I put things into perspective like this, it really makes my creative rut feel like such a little bump in the road. But then 10 minutes later I am stressed again about my creative rut. Such is life 😉

So what do you do when you get into a creative rut? I don’t have a magic formula, but you are not alone. Here are a few things that I do when things are not going the way I want them to.

1. Stop Shooting. Yep. Take a break from all things photo. You determine the time period. Take time to breath, pray, build relationships and focus on others. I am never amazed at how inspired I become when I focus on others and not on myself. I think we are all selfish by nature (whether we admit it or not), so it feels great when you take the focus off of yourself.

2. Read. Whether it be for piece of mind or inspiration, it will do you a lot of good.

3. Slow down. Say no. Do not overcommit. I am so guilty of over committing myself and that does not do anyone any good, especially me. I have recently said “no” to a few things and it killed me to say it, but man did it feel good. I knew that I did not have to commit and it freed me up. Actually it re-ignited some ideas I have been working on, so I spent some time on them. Very inspiring.

4. Get yourself some Netflix. Movies are a great source of inspiration. Rent a few different kinds. The big thing that inspires me about movies is that they can only be captured Horizontally. See how cinematographers work within these constraints. It is quite impressive. Study how they shoot things that we may choose to shoot vertically. Then, challenge yourself to shoot horizontally only.

5. Learn something new. If you do the same type of photography all of the time, do the opposite. Shoot some portraits when you are not shooting weddings. Shoot landscapes. Create a personal project, produce it, shoot it, do the post production and share it with us to be inspired :-). If you are not so hot with file management, editing, or retouching, take some time and learn. I can tell you from experience that I would rather be shooting than sitting behind the computer, however I know that Capturing the image is only a fraction of the process. Being behind the computer and constantly honing my retouching skills makes me a better shooter. It really helps me with composition and exposure. When I am exposing for an image, I keep in mind what it will take in post to complete my vision.

6. If you have had a project in the back of your mind, that you never have time to do… DO IT. DO IT NOW. This will get your fire brewing.

The winter months are a time for us to get complacent. I am making a vow to keep hustling and make things happen. You with me? Please share some ideas, inspirations, encouragement in the comments.

Comments 3

  1. I always love that video that Zack made. Soap, Dope, and Hope in a very close second. I’ve been working on a project lately and it is SO HARD! Not because it’s boring, but because it’s something I always have to remember. I have found, however, that it’s great creatively. I’ll also have a “textures” day or a “can’t figure out what it is cause I composed it differently” kind of day. Keeps me on my toes.

  2. Great tips D! When I’m stuck in a rut and I take a break from photography, I find that it takes me a LONG time to get back into shooting. However if I grab a different camera with different limitations, it resets my brain pretty quickly. Vintage, manual, and film cameras are usually what I’m drawn to, but I’ve done video projects with just my point and shoot as well. So that at least works for me 🙂

  3. Thank you for posting this video. I have been feeling a lot like what he talks about as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. I haven’t been able to say “no” to people and it is hurting my creativity. Thanks for reminding me to take sometime, step back and to just play. I’ve been shooting for everyone else, except myself. I’ve gotten stuck in a rut of portraits and events, but not just fun, wacky me. Again, thank you! I need to start a new project, as I did the 365 project and loved it. Maybe it’s time for a 52 weeks or something!

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