Oh, the agony. No artist wants to find themselves in a creative rut. You become restless.. and it feels like there is a big black hole in your artist's brain.
I went through this earlier this year. I blame the dark, gloomy, and grey Ohio winter.. but I think it also had to do with me taking on my 365 project. Forcing myself to shoot and edit everyday made me start to question my style of photography, editing style, and wonder where the heck was the sun hiding! Shooting indoors when there is minimal sunlight can be tricky and I just felt like all of my images were mediocre.
Then, there was the feeling of being lost with my editing style. Just when I thought I had found a way to edit my pictures that I loved, I started to HATE it.. so I would spend hours experimenting with my images and the feeling that I couldn't get them to look the way I wanted was pretty frustrating..
This went on for almost two months.. and then, something clicked. I don't know what it was but I was seeing everything differently. It was like my eyes changed the way they saw color and light. I could see small things I needed to adjust in my photos more clearly and I was finally producing images that I loved again and my mind was clear.
I learned a few things during this really difficult creative rut so I want to share some encouraging advice for those who may go through this as well.
1. Reach out to members of your community
Community over competition is a motto here in the photography world. I have met some of the nicest people that have been really helpful in my photography journey. Just knowing that someone else "gets it" is a huge comfort when I need to vent about something like editing bright green grass (it is harder than it sounds, folks!) My photog friends are a huge source of inspiration and encouragement and if you don't have friends in your industry, try joining Facebook groups, send an email to someone whose work you admire. There are a lot of ways to get in touch with people and although it is hard to reach out to complete strangers, when a friendship blossoms from it, it is SO worth it.
2. Push Through - Keep going and don't stop
Do not give up! Sure, you might need to take a break from your craft but don't let a creative rut stop you. Usually, when you are in a creative rut, it is because you are about to create something AMAZING.. so don't give up on yourself!
3. Experiment With a New Medium
Something I found relaxing for my creative mind was drawing and brainstorming.. Drawing (and writing) allowed me to put onto paper any creative spark or thought I had even if I couldn't create it at that moment with my camera. I would write down lists of photography projects I wanted to try, blog post topics I wanted to write about, and business ideas. This helped me to feel accomplished and more ambitious.
4. Take a Class
I have taken several online classes for my photography. There are a TON out there. Some of my favorites are from a website called Clickin' Moms and I also love Creative Live. Creative Live is great because they have live "on air" streaming of certain classes each day so you can watch whatever is on air for free! Definitely worth checking out.
5. Go Somewhere New (and bring your camera)
Even after living in Columbus for twelve years (TWELVE!? holy cow I'm old), there are SO many places that I still have not visited. Be a tourist in your OWN town.. google "things to do in ________" and you might be surprised at all of the awesome places you have not been to.
My favorite thing to do this past year is try to visit new metro parks with our son. My family gets fresh air and exercise + I get to take photos = WIN! Visiting a place you have never seen before changes something in your brain and re-sets it. You might be surprised to find that seeing these new places inspires you and makes you feel alive again.. almost like a mini vacation.
I hope that you find these tips to be helpful! And if you find yourself in a rut, don't give up!