Stuck In A Rut? Reignite Your Creative Spark

By Kyle Wilson

For photographers, maintaining a creative spark is essential for artistic fulfillment and standing out in a competitive field. But if you’re constantly on the go, hustling from shoot to shoot, you may start to feel your creative spark fade. 

The flame is there, it’s just not burning red hot anymore.

There’s a great comic from The Oatmeal demonstrating how creativity is like breathing. When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But no one can constantly exhale - eventually, you have to inhale. 

Read on for seven practical tips and innovative strategies to help photographers breathe in fresh creative air - making space to reignite creative passion and embrace a fresh perspective of your work. 

7 Ways to Reignite Your Creative Passion

1. Embrace Experimentation In Your Current Work 

When you’re booked up with client work, finding time for creative exploration can be challenging. If this resonates, try experimenting within the work you’re already doing. Change the paradigm, or get a different view. 

Oprah Winfrey said: “Make visible what without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”

Ask yourself: what environmental factors can I change to see things differently?

Small adjustments can dramatically shift your perspective and bring a new dimension to your work. For instance, during a wedding shoot, dedicate 15-20 minutes to photographing from a single spot. The constraint will force you to see the familiar in new ways.

Putting limitations on your options, like only bringing one lens, can unexpectedly unleash creativity as you'll have to think differently to capture compelling images.

2. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone 

Routine can be the nemesis of creativity. For example, if you've shot numerous weddings perhaps it's time to venture into uncharted territories. 

Collaborate with friends on a casual shoot, book a studio session, experiment with a film camera, or even try video production. Create for no set purpose other than to make new things - you never know where it will take you.

Wedding photographers Chris and Ruth started making hats as a creative outlet during the Covid pandemic, and now have that income stream running successfully beside their photography business.

The key is to engage in activities not directly related to your professional work, allowing you to create freely without the pressure of client expectations. This approach refreshes your mind while boosting your skill set. 

3. Seek Inspiration in Everyday Life 

Inspiration is all around us. Keep a folder of images or ideas that capture your attention on social media. These can serve as creative prompts when you're feeling stuck. 

Beyond digital inspiration, the real world offers creative stimuli everywhere around you. Catch a film with notable cinematography, visit an art museum, or observe people in a public space. Exposure to different art forms can provide a fresh perspective and stimulate new ideas. 

Challenge yourself to photograph everyday objects in a new, consistent style - purely for creativity’s sake!

4. Break the Mold and Collaborate 

Musicians can easily watch other musicians perform. A DJ can watch and learn from fellow DJs. As a client-focused photographer, you rarely get to see other photographers making art for purely creative reasons. 

Collaboration can be a powerful tool for reigniting your creative spark. It offers a chance to bounce ideas off others, learn from their techniques, and create something you might not have thought of on your own. 

Attend workshops or photography meetups in your area. These gatherings are great places to connect with like-minded individuals and can lead to collaborative projects that push your creative boundaries.

5. Self-Care and Stepping Away 

Never underestimate the power of self-care in fueling creativity. If possible, take a trip to rejuvenate your senses. If traveling isn't an option, find simple ways to indulge in self-care – read a book in the park, visit a spa, or just spend a day unplugged from digital distractions. 

Changing your environment, even briefly, can reset your creative mindset and provide new insights into your work.

Mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga can also enhance your creativity by clearing your mind and reducing stress, allowing you to focus more deeply on your artistic vision.

Getting away from your creative work can give you an objective perspective and help renew your focus.

6. Reinvent Your Past Work 

Sometimes the best source of inspiration is your own portfolio. Review your past work and notice the evolution of your style and technique. This introspection can be incredibly inspiring. 

Try reimagining your old photos – crop them differently, edit them differently or focus on specific elements like faces or hands, and see where this exploration leads you.

Analyzing your previous work can also help you identify patterns or themes you're naturally drawn to - perhaps without even realizing -which can be further developed in future projects.

Share your reimagined work within your network for feedback to help spark new ideas and continue learning.

7. Expand Your Creative Horizons 

Learning a new craft or skill can stir your creative juices.

Whether it's drawing, painting, or any other artistic endeavor, engaging in different creative activities can provide fresh insights and approaches to your photography. 

It's about allowing yourself the freedom to play and explore. Consider taking up a new hobby to complement your photography, such as writing, which can help you tell stories through your images more effectively. Dedicate yourself to crafting expert-level blog posts to tell your stories.

It’s about creating in a way you don’t currently create. Even if you’re busy, you can still play. And making the time to do so is important and will prove beneficial in unexpected ways.

Igniting New Perspectives 

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while working." – Henri Matisse

In photography, as in any art form, the creative spark sometimes needs rekindling. 

Creativity thrives not in constant production but in the freedom to explore and experience the world in new ways. Remember to inhale as much as you exhale.

Turn the heat up on your creative flame by experimenting within your current work, stepping outside your comfort zone, seeking new sources of inspiration, collaborating with others, and dedicating time to self-care and exploration. 

With these strategies in your toolkit, you can maintain and enhance your creative spark, ensuring your work continues to evolve and resonate with both you and your audience.