Sometimes you want to shoot but you can’t seem to find any ideas. Or maybe you feel like every shot you take has been done before or you just want to try something new. It’s the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block. Fortunately there a bunch of places you can go for help getting your creativity flowing:
First and foremost, visit the work of other photographers. Photoblogs.org is a database and listing service for thousands of photo blogs (over 17,047 as of this writing). You can browse photo blogs by subject matter, location, type of photography or use the super-handy random photo blog link. Seeing the world from a different point of view is a powerful creative force. And trying to reproduce a shot that someone else has made can teach you a lot.
Join an online photography community. There are many to choose from and most offer a free version of the service. My favorite, because it has the friendliest people, is Flickr. Flickr lets you share your photos and view photos from literally millions of other photographers from around the world. And it is home to thousands of lively discussion groups on every conceivable topic related to photography.
Sometimes a change of equipment can get you thinking differently. Cameras can produce a “look” based on familiarity, shape of the frame, and optical qualities. Try putting down your fully-automatic, bazillion-pixel digital for a weekend and pick up a cheap disposable. Try shooting all weekend without using your zoom. Or try shooting without looking through the viewfinder or looking at the LCD and see what you come home with. Limitations can force you to get creative and will give you a new perspective when you go back to your regular kit.
Assignments and challenges. Everyone loves a challenge and there are no shortage of web sites that will issue a challenge on a weekly basis and then allow everyone to share their results together. Some have a voting mechanism for choosing the best photos but many exist just for the fun of participation. They’ll typically issue a short statement, a theme, that can be interpreted in many different ways. Here are a few popular ones:
- Photo Friday
- Thursday Challenge
- Nature Photographers Weekly Challenge
- Theme Competition
- Weekly Theme
- Theme of the Week
- National Geographic: Your Shot
Try shooting a subject you normally wouldn’t or do it in an unusual way. Take pictures of your kids all the time? Try making pictures of inanimate objects for a change. Or shoot the next few shots of your kids while lying on the floor instead of standing over them. Or only make shots of them that don’t include their faces. Mix it up.
Trying these things are not a guaranteed cure for photographer’s block. But when you review your images, you may just find a few that surprise you, even inspire you, and make you wonder who the fabulous photographer was who made that picture.