It happens to most of us at some point, especially to photographers who have been taking pictures for a long time. You just run out of ideas. When you look at the latest batch of images on the memory card, you find that they look a lot like the previous batch… and the batch before that. You need new inspiration.
Here are five things you can do to when you need to give your creative spark a new charge:
1. Go Aerial
Sometimes a new view can give you a whole new way of seeing the world… and photographing it. Instead of taking street photography at street level, take the elevator to the roof. You’ll be able to play with the horizon, form lines with the streets, and close in on pedestrians, fire escapes and traffic patterns.
Perspective is an important part of photography, remember? So get a new one.
2. Do Something You’ve Never Done Before
One of the reason that photos can become similar is that life can become routine. You do the same things, see the same things so you take the same pictures.
So break the routine — do something completely different. If you know nothing about skateboarding, head to a skateboard park. If you’ve never been to a ball game, now’s the time (even if you find the crowds more interesting than the sport, you’ll still come back with some great images.) If you’re apolitical, join a demonstration. As an outsider, you’ll have a unique perspective. Make the most of it.
3. Visit A Thrift Store
Still lifes are a photographic standard, but when you’ve photographed everything you own from your toothbrush to your pillow, it’s time to find something new. Take a trip to a thrift store and pick up three outrageous-looking items. They shouldn’t cost you much but they should give you hours of challenge as you light them, arrange them and try to turn them into a story.
4. Head For A Retirement Home
No, not because it’s time to hang up your tripod for good, but because when you’re looking to turn faces into stories there’s no better place to look than a retirement home. Senior citizens have a lifetime of tales to tell and every one of those is written in the lines on their faces. It’s up to you and your camera to unravel them.
You’ll have to ask the home and your subjects for permission but few senior citizens will have a problem chatting away while you take their portraits, especially if you give them a copy afterwards. You should find yourself developing some whole new portrait techniques.
5. Get The Most Out Of A New Toy
And finally, if all else fails, you can always buy your way out of trouble. Treat yourself to a new lens or a different colored filter and discover what you can do with it. It might not be the cheapest way to find inspiration, but it’s certainly fun.