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Stuck in a creative rut: Stop shooting for other photographers

Sometimes we find ourselves in a creative rut. Feeling uninspired or lusting after new ideas. As creatives, it’s natural to want to keep on creating. To keep finding another perspective or another way of shooting the same things. Try as we might, sometimes the new ideas just don’t seem to come. We can place so much pressure on ourselves because of this. We find ourselves reluctant to repeat old ideas, recycle poses or set ups. Reluctant to shoot things that have been popular or that have all been done before. At times like this we often find ourselves looking to our peers for inspiration.

But so often our feelings of failure or inadequacy come as a result of following the work of others too closely. We see their ideas and we wonder why we’d not thought of that. Perhaps we wonder how they did it. What we do not know though is how they got there. We’ve not been present for every failed attempt, every idea that didn’t work. It’s rare that someone puts their ideas that didn’t quite work out, out there for the world to see. As a result all we ever see from other creatives are the creative successes. The complete pictures, the new ideas. Simultaneously we live with the knowledge of our own failures, our own feelings of inadequacy our own lack of creativity. It’s that now almost cliched idea of comparing our own behind the scenes experience with everyone else’s highlight reel.

Creative rut. Inspirational quote.

What we sometimes fail to appreciate however is that thoughts and ideas that may be old news to us are new and exciting to our clients. They may have seen a backlit rain shot before, but they have never been the subject in such an image. They have never had their own set of wedding photographs and therefore every image, every idea is unique to them. And that’s key.

Whilst we are feeling guilty and uninspired, for not delivering something new, whilst we mope in our creative rut, there may very well be a beaming client proudly showing off our work. “That’s me. That’s my photographer. Those are my wedding photos”

That’s not to say that we should all give up and stop striving for new and exciting ideas. We should definitely stop feeding the notion that everything has to be new however. We should try to accept and understand that creativity or lack thereof occurs naturally and that at times, we all suffer from feelings of inadequacy. In these moments we should pause to ask ourselves why we are piling on so much pressure.

Creativity isn’t simply a switch that we can turn on or off. It’s a story all of it’s own. Sometimes a lightbulb moment, sometimes a development of ideas over time. Sometimes creativity is an accident or a consequence of failure in another area. But what creativity is not, is a competition. Not with ourselves and not with other photographers. A happy client is our ultimate goal, everything else is part of the journey.

So we should stop shooting for other photographers. We should stop shooting with the idea in mind that creativity means constantly delivering something new. Instead we should shoot genuinely, with no agenda- inspiration will always find those who are open minded enough to be inspired.

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