inspiration from urban exploration

Allison Zercher 12

Over the years, I’ve certainly been a victim of the dreaded photography rut, a feeling that comes from some mixture of:

  1. “I have nothing to photograph.”
  2. “I have no one to photograph.”
  3. “Every photo I take lacks creativity.”
  4. “I need better equipment.”
  5. All of the above, or some combination of countless others reasons why we doubt our work…

row of mailboxes photograph by Allison Zercher

My personal cure for such a rut is to occasionally get into my car and take a drive with my camera in tow.  I’ll even gather up a few lenses and shove them into my bag and drive off with no particular place in mind as my destination.  I simply call this a “photo adventure,” and I’ve been known to be gone for hours, by myself, checking in now and then with my husband so he knows I’m perfectly fine, just wandering.  I don’t typically venture far, but far enough that perhaps I’ll happen upon something I’ve never seen before that looks interesting to photograph:  an old barn, some sort of architectural masterpiece, a pretty, open field.

no parking sign photo by Allison Zercher

Not only does this help me push through a slump in creativity, it’s also a great way to scout for new locations for possible future shoots.  Some of my most favorite spots to photograph my children and shoot other portrait work have been found on such an adventure.

If you’re feeling in a photography rut, go take a drive and see what you might find.  If you’re like me, it’ll be therapeutic and it’ll possibly help expand your list of shoot locations nearby!

woman sitting on steps pic by Allison Zercher

shoes on a telephone wire photograph by Allison Zercher

palm trees in California picture by Allison Zercher

market sign with grafitti wall pic by Allison Zercher

Allison ZercherAllison Zercher, California
website | facebook | pinterest | instagram | daily project
As a self proclaimed happy hobbyist, Allison minimally explored photography in her college years but didn’t get serious about it until 2004. Since then, she has completed several 365 projects and enjoys documenting her family, husband and two daughters, with a lifestyle approach. Ideally her days would be spent with friends and family, coffee, chips and salsa, and of course her camera, a Nikon d700, and assortment of Nikon lenses, mostly primes.

Read more photography tutorials from Allison Zercher.


  • Alice C. says:

    Fabulous advice Allison!

  • Gea says:

    Great advice, I couldn’t agree more! This is one of my favourite things to do when I have “nothing to shoot.

  • Nella says:

    Thanks for this….such great advice and so true! It also helps us open up our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us and we sometimes take for granted.

  • Anne M says:

    Great article; I need to follow your sage advice! Surely DH can’t argue about entertaining the kids solo when he leaves for four hours at a time to play golf. :)

  • sherrie says:

    Great to know we are all hard on ourselves. Finding Art in everyday is glorious.

  • Adele Humphries says:

    You images are always full of imagination and creativity! Thanks for sharing how you get there with us :)

  • Julia says:

    Great article, Allison! Not sure why it never occured to me to just randomly drive to a new location nearby (as #1 on your list seems to be my biggest stuggle lately) but I’m so looking forward to trying out this method!! Thank you! :)

  • I adore your work Allison! I love how you approach your photography. Thanks for sharing a bit more of how you make amazing photos!!

  • Allison says:

    Thanks so much for the nice comments, everyone :) I’ve found myself doing this more and more as the years go by. It really is a great way to restore your faith in your own ‘eye.’

  • Carmen says:

    Great idea, I should do this more often. I love urban style photography. Sometimes its great to just stop and look at your own environment in a different way.

  • I love every single image, Allison!

  • jennifer123 says:

    *sigh* i just adore you and your work and i love your advice on pushing through creative slumps…thank you so much for this!!

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