I’m going to tell you something I hate and then something I love. Here’s what I hate: I hate when I feel stuck in a creative rut. I hate when all my photographs start to feel “the same.” It’s an icky feeling, isn’t it? You find yourself using the same go-to poses and the same perfect backgrounds and the same styled set-ups. Same, same, same.
I would really love a fairy to sprinkle pixie dust on my head that makes my creativity flow from now until eternity. No ruts. No being stuck. No same, same.
But that freaking fairy is nowhere in sight.
However, here’s what I love: taking a day trip for the simple purpose of doing a photo walk. I love to choose a spot where I’ve never done a photo walk before. Or a spot I have done but that I have a totally new idea for. I enjoy putting myself in a creative situation that is different from the usual and pushing my creative boundaries. This is such a great way to get out of those ruts!
When you put yourself in a new situation and try out different styles of photography, you’re pushing your boundaries. You’re forcing yourself to get creative, to see things differently. You can’t get stuck because you’ve never done it before.
For instance, I took these photos on a photo walk I did while visiting one of my favorite hiking areas in Las Vegas — Red Rock Canyon.
Sure, I’ve been to Red Rock before (I ADORE it!). But I’ve never gone for the purpose of taking photos that tell the story of my walk.
I wanted to make a photo collage that gave the observer an idea of what my day was like. I wanted the observer to see the beauty in the desert the way I see it — a mix of landscape photos and detail photos. I wanted to emphasize the unique way the light hits the canyon and the unique wildflowers blooming in early summer. I also wanted to edit the pictures in a slightly different way than my norm.
I made a plan, I had a purpose, and I completed a photo project.
When you’re stuck in a rut, it feels good to complete a small project that is totally different from your every day work. And it helps you to see things differently. This way, when you go back to that every day work, you have a fresh perspective!
Here are a few things you may want to consider when planning your photo walk:
- Where do you want to go? Perhaps there’s a spot in your city you’ve always wanted to visit, but you haven’t. Maybe you have a favorite street full of shops you adore wandering by. Or a brilliant area for people watching. Or a nature area that is absolutely peaceful. Maybe you have a favorite ice cream shop, and you want to photograph the experience of getting ice cream there (actually, this totally gives me an idea…). It could be anything!
- Would you prefer the solitude of being alone, or do you want to plan the outing with a friend? For me, it depends on my mood. Some days, the last thing in the world I want is to photograph with someone beside me. I want the option to spend hours photographing one spot until I get it just right. Or I want to get up to watch the sunrise and take photos in that perfect morning light (and I know few people that would find that appealing). But other days I want to chat and tell stories and take pictures along the way. I often find my photos turn out very different when I have someone with me as opposed to being alone. This is good. Different is good. So put some thought into your preference.
- Do you want to tell a story with your photos? If so, what story do you want to tell? Perhaps there are color schemes or objects or people you would like to showcase throughout. Perhaps there is a feeling or an idea you would like to convey. Maybe you want a certain word or phrase to come to mind when people look at your photos — things like sweet summertime, comfort, affection, etc. Put some thought into this. When you’re out taking the photos, if you get stuck, come back to your purpose — what story do you want to tell? — and you’ll soon find yourself unstuck.
- What do you need for your photo walk? Depending on where you’re heading, the list of needs could be entirely different. Plan to be out all day hiking? Pack your backpack, a sweater, lunch, water, etc. Plan to have lunch at a favorite outdoor cafe and then walk along the street? Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a camera bag. Will you have access to snacks or should you bring them? Do you want to challenge yourself with one lens or do you want options? Think about these things, and make a list the night before you head out. This way you can quickly scan your list before leaving to make sure you have everything, and you’re off quickly!
- When are you going? Don’t just sit around making plans you never act on. Pick a date, put it in your calendar, and stick to it! You’ll be so glad you did.
The next time you find your creativity waning, plan an outing and break free from your norm.