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10 Sure-Fire Ways to Get out of a Creative Rut

No matter how much you enjoy photography, eventually, you may find your creativity waning. It’s happened to the best of us, and it can leave your photographs looking less than inspired, and often downright dismal! Often, creative ruts are caused by familiarity. Too often we spend all of our time in the same areas, with the same camera and lens combo, capturing the same type of images. After a while things get, well, boring, and our creativity begins to suffer as well.

1. Try a New Style

Often, creative ruts are the result of us becoming complacent. We tend to get good at what we’re doing, and then – we plateau. If this sounds like you, consider taking some time to branch out and explore different styles of photography. Challenge yourself to try something completely different, that’s outside your typical comfort zone. If you do landscapes, consider doing portraits, street photography, or even macro. You could try capturing water droplets, experimenting with long exposures, or photographing the moon. Attempting something new will challenge you once again, helping to boost your creativity.

2. Shot Everything

If you’re finding it difficult to channel your creativity, then you might want to consider just shoting everything. Don’t worry about making perfect pictures, just start shoting. You might be surprised at what catches your eye.

Experience Other Art Forms

If you’re feeling stuck, why not experiment with different art forms? Sometimes switching gears and allowing your mind some ‘time off’ from your typical pursuits is what it takes to inspire you. Consider watching a play, listening to music, visiting museums, reading poetry, or even drawing and sketching. Often, inspiration comes when you’re least expecting it.

3. Look at Inspirational Images

What better way to get inspiration than by learning from the best? Study the work of skilled photographers, have a look at photography on 500px, or check out a photography book to help get your creative juices flowing. National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer are also great places to find inspiration.

4. Join a Group

Surrounding yourself with others who are passionate about the same thing as you can help to spur you on. Joining a group – if there’s one locally, or taking a photography class can also help you to learn new techniques, or encourage you to see things differently. In most cases, it can also provide you with some constructive feedback that can help inspire your creative spirit.

5. Rent Some New Gear

Playing with some new gear can spark all sorts of creative ideas. Consider renting a new piece of equipment from websites like BorrowLenses or LensRentals.com. Get yourself a telephoto, or a wide-angle, or something else that you’ve had your eye on for a while. Learn everything you can about the new piece of gear, how it works and handles, then get out there and have fun using it.

6. Buy Some New Gear

Of course, you could also invest in some new gear as well. This doesn’t have to be a whole new camera or lens; it could even be something relatively inexpensive like a polarizer, ND filter, reflector, or off-camera flash.

7. Take a Trip

When we’re around the same sights day in and day out, it’s only a matter of time until our creativity will start to suffer. Traveling can help you view the world with a completely new perspective. New faces, new sites, and being in an unfamiliar place can help to inspire you like almost nothing else.

8. Take a Break

If you are struggling to get out of a rut, consider leaving your camera behind for a day. You might just be surprised at how much more detail you notice when you’re not looking through a viewfinder, and how inspired you will be the next day.

9. Look for Exceptional Lighting

If your photos are looking a bit drab lately, try to capture some images with amazing natural light. Few things will transform your images more dramatically than exceptional lighting. Consider getting up early and hiking to a scenic location to capture a sunrise, or – be on-location during golden hour, that short but beautiful time during morning and evening where everything’s covered with a golden glow. Learn to work with the light, keeping it to the side or behind you in order to illuminate your composition properly, and watch as your images improve.

10. Experiment With Post-Processing

Don’t rule out post-processing! This can be a fun way to take your images to the next level. Lightroom Classic and Photoshop offer free trials, allowing you to experiment to see what the programs are capable of. Get started with plug-ins, like Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex, that can give your images an entirely new look. It’s a fun way to get inspired.

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