Do you ever feel creatively exhausted? Ever feel like everything has already been done, that you’ve utilized every square inch of your house/yard that gets good light, that you’ve just run out of new things to try? Many people (myself included) find that spending time with the work of another photographer can be immensely inspiring generally, but when it comes to conceiving of a new shot or session, most photographers are careful to avoid anything that could be construed as copying. Nonetheless, when you’re in a deep creative rut, sometimes the ability to innovate seems lost. So what are you to do?
This month, embrace the old. Instead of looking to other artists for inspiration, go through your OWN body of work and identify a handful of images – let’s say five or so – that you love. Pick at least one to recreate. That’s right –you’re going to copy yourself. I want you to give yourself emotional and artistic permission to be UNORIGINAL.
Get out there and re-shoot the image. How faithful you want to be to the inspiration image is up to you. You may ignite a creative spark during the shooting process that leads you in a new direction, and you may end up just copying. Both are fine. In practice, I think you’ll find that it’s quite difficult to fully duplicate a prior image, and maybe you’ll find that you improved on it in some small way. If not, that’s fine, too. There are artists who studied the same subject/scene over and over again; have you ever seen Monet’s haystacks or 250 paintings of waterlilies? What about Degas’ ballet dancers? There is value in repetition and exploring a subject/scene inside and out, even if it feels like a totally technical exercise.
What’s the best way to improve your photography? Shoot thoughtfully and frequently! Try new things and embrace creative and technical challenges. Every month, Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to join in a new Creativity Exercise on the Clickin Moms photography forum. At the conclusion of the exercise, we select Editors’ Choice images from among the exercise submissions and share them here with you on the blog. Congratulations to the ladies whose photographs included in the exercise above were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices, and thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!
And be sure to participate in the next exercise! Visit the forum where Sarah has posted the next challenge. We’d love to see your work!
Sarah Wilkerson, New York
CEO | CMU Instructor
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Duke graduate and former attorney Sarah Wilkerson joined Clickin Moms as a member photographer in 2008 and quickly became a leader in the community. Together with Kendra, Sarah has led the evolution of the company’s mission, program development, and position within the greater photography community. She currently resides in New York with her Army JAG husband, three sons, one daughter, and two dogs. Sarah shoots with a Nikon D4, enjoys tilt-shift and atmospheric black and white work, and instructs CMU’s upper level composition courses: Elements of Design and Composition and Creativity.