creativity exercise: permission to copy


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?

*image copyright Celeste Jones

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.

editors’ choice

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices!

Meredith Novario:

Christina Klahn:

Heather Richard:

Vaune Wolters:

Heather Pich:

Kelly Wilson:


Allison Jacobs:

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise?  Visit the forum here where Sarah has challenged us with the theme “Humanizing a Non-Human Subject or Object“.  Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet?  Head on over here to sign up!  You can still participate in this Permission to Copy challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

free creative photography exercises by Sarah Wilkerson for Clickin Moms


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