11 Tips to Overcome Photographers Block
Updated: Sep 18
Just like writers, photographers too can experience a period of creative block. They may feel creatively slow, uninspired to photograph and experience difficulty coming up with original ideas. No amount of staring at the camera will solve this condition, and there are no magic pills.
With stay-at-home restrictions in place, particularly during the pandemic, photographers may find they’re more prone to creative block. I found it hard and had to find projects around my house to keep up my drive and creativity.
Here are a few things, in no particular order that I follow to help me through those times. Hopefully, they’ll help get you out of the rut.
Make a portfolio
Showing off your work is a great way to build confidence and motivation to create new photos. Some photographers find showcasing their photos to the world daunting. But it can be a great tool for feedback, maybe attract potential work or clients and/or even sell your prints online (see "Sell your photos" below).
Portfolios are not only limited to online, hard copy formats like a book (see "Produce a photo book" below) can be a great tool to sell/showcase your photography. Seeing your work in hardcopy format can be satisfying.
Free online portfolio sites;
Sell your photos
It is very satisfying when someone buys your photos. Trust me, after I made my first sale I was overjoyed. Knowing that there is someone out there that liked your work so much to make a purchase was a joyous feeling. Not only prints, but you can also sell products with your photos, like mugs, t-shirts, like stickers and more.
Products with my photo on My RedBubble Store - Spiral book, Postcards, Masks
Make a side passive income from your photography using;
Redbubble - Sell your photographs on products
Society6 - Sell your photographs on products
Adobe Stock - Digital downloads
Twenty20 - Digital downloads
Join a camera club
A great way to meet and interact with other photographers in your local area. This was one of the best moves I made toward improving my photography.
Clubs can help photographers come together with outings, workshops and meetings, creating a small community. It becomes a comfortable place for photographers of all levels to share, discuss, debate, learn, encourage, inspire and to even possibly collaborate on projects.
Members can be sounding boards for advice and help for each other.
I’ve found that my club has some great people who are always willing to help and encourage.
Join online communities
This doesn't necessarily have to be focused on photography, it can be any community which may inspire you. These communities could be other creatives such as music, graphic design, film, food, home decor, etc.
I am a member of a few groups other than photography which provide inspiration for photos: collectors, music, graphic design, cooking. I simply love interacting with other creatives inspired by their stories and experiences.
Here are some online communities to consider;
Sports cars of all era! Motorheads - for the Automobile enthusiast
Look for a mentor or be a mentor
Find a mentor specific to your style or genre of photography. Engaging with one is a great way to help guide your growth. These photographers with years of experience can inspire, teach, share their knowledge and advice. Mentors can also encourage and inspire photographers with new ideas and projects.
I consider the following photographers as mentors. I may not know them personally, but their work and skills are inspirational.
Eric Kim - street photographer
Julia Anna Gospodarou - black and white fine art photographer (architecture)
Joel Grimes - portrait photographer
Scott Kelby - portrait, sports and travel photographer
Why not try being a mentor to other photographers? Teaching and advising others can take you back to basics, maybe even help you learn something new or rejuvenate your love for photography.
Go for a Walk
The common advice I’ve received from many people is to simply “Go for a walk to clear your head”. This is exactly what I did around my neighbourhood, but I took my camera along with me. I didn't plan to take any photos in particular, only if I found the right moment or scene. This was also an opportunity to discover those hidden locations for the next photo shoot.
Read a magazine
I personally love the feel of a hard copy magazine. I love flicking through a glossy mag finding inspiration for potential future projects or shoots. The publications don't necessarily have to be photography based. These days magazines are visually heavy, and any mainstream magazine could be a potential source of inspiration.
Online magazines are, of course, increasingly popular these days. Here are some worth considering:
Flipboard - articles, stories from thousands of sources
ISSUU - hundreds of free magazines
Amateur Photographer - photography from the UK
Go back and edit old photos
My skills level from when I first started has vastly improved. I now have a lot more editing skills in my bag that I can apply to my old photos to try to save them. Those photos could become subjects for testing and a little experimentation. Try colourising old black and white photos.
The following video will take you through step by step process to colourise your old photos.
Try little projects around the home
Bad weather or certainly a pandemic can make it hard to get out to photograph, so, I find little projects around the house to keep me practising and improving my skills. This gives me the opportunity to capture moments with my kids.
Here are a few project ideas;
Still life photography with items from around the house.
Documenting daily routine
Document the neighbourhood
Document your garden through the different seasons.
Document a DIY Project
Videography is a whole new skill set and would be the next step in a photographer's evolution. This form of creativity can open a photographer’s eyes to a new process of capturing the world around them. It has for me. Experimenting with moving images has rejuvenated my photography and I get excited seeing the still images come to live in moving form. Videography also requires learning new skills, adding experience and knowledge.
Videography skills could come in handy documenting family events, special occasions, maybe producing a documentary or instructional videos. Combining videography and photography can create an in-depth project.
Video editing software ;
OpenShot - free Software
Apple iMovie - free for IOS devices
Adobe Rus free starter plan
Blender - free
Shotcut - free, open-source, cross-platform video editor.
Video & Music Software from Amazon - best sellers music and video software
A few videography project ideas;
"How to" instructional video (use the software, use a device or step by step DIY project)
Document your photoshoot
Timelapse video (changing weather outside or daily traffic in your neighbourhood)
One of my Photoshop Tutorial Videos on my YouTube channel
Timelapse of moving clouds outside my house
Produce a photo book
Seeing work come to life makes it all worth it. These days many photos end up in the cloud, never to be seen. Showcasing work in hardcopy format can be satisfying, as others enjoy your work.
Photobooks could also be a source of income for photographers. Selling your photos in a book can be uplifting and encouraging. Producing & selling photo books has never been so easy in today's digital world.
Here are a few Photobook ideas;
Family book (portraits or family tree)
How to guide
Photo a Day
Four Seasons Book
Year in review
Continuing series (0-5-year-old of your child, 5-10-year-old...so on)
Photo books could be a great gift idea for a birthday, special events or Christmas.
Create your photobook with:
Blurb - with an online shop to sell your book
MomentroPro - with an online shop to sell your book
Entering competitions can be a method of creating new photos to build up your portfolio. Competitions provide categories or themes to enter, for example, Black and White Category or Cute pets theme. This can encourage and motivate photographers to plan and shoot to prepare their images for a comp.
Try the following competitions;
Twenty20 - enter various daily challenges (themes), free to join and enter challenges. Chance to win cash prizes.
Australian Photography Magazine - a monthly competition that’s free to enter with the ability to win photography products.
500px - free to join and enter quests. Ability to Win cash or grants.
World Photography Organisation - 3 images for free to enter, pay for more entries. Win cash prizes and exhibition.
Take note: don't be discouraged by not winning or receiving unflattering feedback from the judge. Take it as constructive feedback to help improve your photography. Photography is subjective and only you have to be happy with the photo.
- Listening to music or a podcast can rejuvenate your creativity. Check out:
Audible - try free for 30 days
Amazon Music Unlimited - free for 30 days
PodcastOne Australia - listen to hundreds of free podcast
Spotify - listen to millions of songs and podcast for free, premium version available too.
- Shoot gritty textures around your home.
- Use your phone and experiment with different filters and angles.
- Take more personal photos selfies, family or friends.
“Only photograph what you love.” - Tim Walker
I hope these tips can help you overcome any 'photographer’s block' you might have. If things get really bad, it might be an idea to forget your camera, just leave it alone for a while. Maybe pursue another hobby and come back to photography later.
Photography can be a form of relaxation if you let it happen. Don't let it become a chore. Enjoy the entire process from capturing and editing to producing your own style of photography.
“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”
― Imogen Cunningham