We’ve all been there one time or another. Where you just don’t feel particularly inspired by photography, and unsure how to get out of your funk. For me personally, it’s especially threatening, as I am a full time photographer, so my livelihood is dependent on my own creativity in the arts.Throughout the years, I’ve found ways to help be break out of these ‘burn outs’ and succeed even further as a photographer.
I think burning yourself out can happen through a number of ways. Whether it’s stress induced, working too hard on projects you’re not passionate about, or even the changing of seasons, one thing is for certain – it’s terrifying.
I’ve gone through a few of these burnouts in my days, and I’ve found some simple tips to help push myself out of it. While these are not failsafes, they do help me from time to time to find what I love so much about photography, and I wanted to share them with you.
Often, when people get burnt out, they think they maybe a new lens or photography tool will help them get out of their stint. I’ve actually found the exact opposite to be true. When I’m feeling burnt out, I decide that for a few weeks, I’m only going to use one lens – the lens I own but use the least. For me, that’s the Canon 17-40mm f/4L. While this lens is a great lens, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose in a portrait photographers lens lineup. That said, I find the fun in making it the ultimate portrait lens.
I’ve said this a thousand times, and it’s typically my go to when trying to find inspiration once again. A study conducted by the Kellogg School of Management and INSEAD in 2009 found that those who traveled, particularly abroad, have shown much higher signs of creativity in their day to day lives. Whenever I feel exceptionally burnt out, and have no interest in the work I do, I take a vacation to a place I’ve never been. Whether it’s Omaha, Nebraska, Little Rock, Arkansas, or elsewhere, I try to choose a place I wouldn’t normally go for a traditional vacation. Places that don’t expect out of towners, don’t tailor to tourist, and have a solid backbone in culture. However, travel doesn’t need to be on a plane either.
If I need a quick fix that doesn’t break the bank, I do what I call “Local Movement”. While the city I live in (Albuquerque, NM) is not large by New York City standards, it does have a lot of places I’ve never been. Often, we fall into our own mundane bubble of life. We take the same routes to commute, we go to the same places for dinner, and we socialize at the same pub down the street. All I simply do, is switch it up.
I will force my bicycle into the back seat of my car, and drive to the northern part of the city, take it out, and just ride it through some neighborhoods. Turn down blocks I’ve never heard of, and ride it through parks I’ve never seen. This small separation from my otherwise prescheduled life typically leaves me feeling inspired, refreshed and rebooted. Not only does it recharge my motivation, but it’s also an amazing way to location scout for any upcoming photo shoots you are now eager to line up.
We’ve all felt the eventual burn out for something we love. And while it’s seemingly impossible to avoid, perhaps some of these tips can help you get out of your funk faster, and get back to creating inspiring work.