How can I keep my photography fresh and unique? Lately, I’ve seen and heard this question quite often in my social media streams and just in casual conversation with other photographers.
First of all, you are not alone in your feelings here. We all go through this. The struggle to keep motivated and excited about our photography is real. Maybe you’re still hanging around your own home or local area, or the weather has just been continually crap. There are many reasons we just lose our muse, lose our desire to create. Sometimes it’s just easier to pack up the camera for a bit and wait out those feelings.
“If you want to take more interesting photos, stand in front of more interesting stuff”Jim Richardson
While there is some truth to this quote, there are other answers beyond standing in front of more interesting stuff.
But, there are ways to inspire and push ourselves to try harder. Here are a few ideas to try out to inspire and push ourselves to try a little harder.
My images are all looking the same
If you’re feeling like you just continually create the same images over and over, shake it up. Do you always head to the same, favorite spot? I know I tend to go to a few of the same places over and over and it’s not always good.
So, next time turn right instead of left down that road you typically take. Head out your front door into the yard instead of the back if you photograph around your own home. Research new parks in your area. Make a list of the forest preserves and start exploring each of them. Change your scenery.
I’m tired of always photographing people, flowers, sunsets, <insert what you always photograph here>
Get out of your comfort zone. This is a big one. If you’re tired of always photographing the same things, then get out there and find a new subject. I photograph a ton of architecture. Every so often I stop and wonder why and what will I do with all of these images of buildings. Then I grab my camera and head out to a local park, my backyard or get asked to photograph a friends’ 2-year old and give portraits a shot (that is a once-a-year thing for me).
If you’re a landscape-heavy photographer, try your hand at street photography. Do something completely opposite of what you usually do. It will shake up your brain and cause you to open up to seeing new ways to photograph. Try some really artistic technique like Intentional Camera Movement. Just let yourself go, no rules and create blurry images.
Limit yourself to force creativity
When pushed to come up with a different solution to something, we get more creative. So, stand in one place and don’t move your feet to see how many images you find from that one spot.
Take one subject and photograph it in 10 different ways. It can be anything, a pencil, flower, building, egg, person, etc. The possibilities are endless here. By trying to create 10 different images of one thing, you are pushed to think more creatively.
You’ve likely heard this one a million times but, use only one lens. It works and I do this regularly. If you’re used to grabbing your wide-angle lens to photograph your landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, next time take your 50mm only or grab a macro lens. Be aware of how your thought process changes as you try to create compositions without that wide-angle.
Get out with other photographers for a fresh and unique perspective
While photographers tend to do what they do on their own, it is helpful to get out with other photographers. There are several reasons for this. Just talking about creating will help you get back on track. You’ll start feeling more excited about it.
Thankfully, we’re not all in the same lack of freshness and uniqueness boat at the same time. That means if those you are out with are excited and can’t stop seeing images, you won’t be able to help but catch their attitudes about creating.
Also, spending time watching and paying attention to what others are photographing can get you to see opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Spend time with me, you’ll start seeing compositions, reflections and things in places you wouldn’t have ever looked at before. Go hang out with a bunch of street photographers if that’s not your thing. They’ll be pointing their lenses at the scenes on the street and you’ll start seeing the streets as a new opportunity to capture something different for you.
Learn new things
Learning is always a good way to inject some creativity and inspiration into our photography. Something as simple as learning a new post-processing technique might get you excited about creating images to use it on. Maybe it will start a whole new direction for your work.
There are so many techniques and genres of photography. Pick one and practice it for a month. Never used a film camera? Try that. Learn how to develop your own film. Nothing like seeing that image appear before your eyes to get you motivated to create more.
Learn about different types of photographic paper. Print your work and see the differences on each type of paper. You might be amazed at how one paper might make your images look completely different from they do on your computer screen.
Other ideas to keep your photography fresh and unique
How about you? What do you do when you’re photography is feeling stale or you feel like your images look like everyone else’s? Share your own methods, tips and stories for keeping your photography fresh and unique in the comments below. We are all here to learn from each other.