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Two Opposite Ways to Get Out of a Creative Funk

All the excitement of the holiday season is over. It's cold outside. This is the time of year when some of us need a jump start to get out and shoot rather than staying at home binging on Netflix. There are two basic strategies to re-energize your creative juices.

One option is to go to someplace new. The prevailing wisdom is that there's nothing like an African safari or a trip to some other exotic destination to get you excited about taking great images. Chances are good that you will encounter new and interesting subjects to photograph. If you've already taken pictures of everything close to home, perhaps a change of venue would do the trick.

Planning such an adventure can of course be a lot of work. Starting with the logistical issues of planning such a trip, this idea is no small endeavor. And much of this overhead is just that — overhead. By and large, planning a major photography trip has nothing to do with taking pictures. It's mostly about travel planning and little to do with photography. Such a trip can cost real money too. From gas for the car to airline tickets, to a whole raft of other expenses, the commitment to taking such a trip isn't cheap. And all this money is cash you won't have available to spend on a new camera or lens.

The other interesting thing about most of these sorts of exotic destinations is that quite a few people have gone there before you. And many of them know the location better than you ever could on your first time visiting.

This leads me to the other option, and my personal favorite: going someplace you already know quite well. You can relax and focus on the photography. Trip planning would be minimal, or at least no more than what you are already accustomed to. You're already familiar with the area and likely know pretty well what time of day to be at potentially good spots. Indeed, my preferred way to find something new is to go to a place I've been to countless times before. I get to my destination well ahead of the best light, and just sit down and see what develops.

Going somewhere exotic and new assumes that what blocks your creativity lies somewhere outside of you. The assumption in this strategy is that you need something better to take pictures of. Relaxing into somewhere you already know well assumes that the blockage lies within you. The assumption is that there are great images to be made and that it's your job to find them. Or should I say it's your job to see them.

And suppose you do come back from that African safari with some killer images. If the reason for your newly found creative vigor is over there and now back you're over here, what then? Were you fundamentally changed in some way that will enable you to get better results on your next trip close to home, or is the lesson that you should start planning for next year's trip?

Rather than amping up the pressure on a high budget, high stakes to some place new, I've always found it better to let go of the pressure by settling into some place old. But don't just repeat yourself. Find some way to shoot those familiar subjects in a new way. Only by digging deeper within yourself can you truly get more in touch with your own creativity, wherever you find yourself.

Happy New Year.

Date posted: January 4, 2015


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