Chances are that if you are a photographer, you consider yourself to be at least a somewhat creative person. You likely appreciate the process of dreaming-up the perfect photo. You enjoy the activity of creating an image. And you feel energized by the finished product when it meets your vision.
Yet even the most creative person doesn’t constantly feel inspired. There are dishes to do and laundry to fold and tasks to check off the list. Living a creative life isn’t always easy under the pile of day to day responsibilities!
However, it is possible to make creativity more easily accessible. With a few simple ideas, you can find small ways to add a creativity boost to your day.
Switch up your routine
Too often we get stuck in the rut of sameness. We take the same routes to work. We check the same items off of our to-do lists. The same sights, locations, and people meet us as we move about our days.
While there can be comfort in routine, this kind of monotony can zap creativity. That’s why it is important to be intentional in changing things up from time to time.
Changes to the routine don’t have to be drastic. Instead, consider small ways to vary the same activities you engage in daily.
Do you spend the morning driving the kids to their school one mile away? Maybe one day everyone can walk or ride bikes instead. Instead of the same treadmill routine try a class at the gym. Give the farmer’s market a go instead of the usual grocery store routine. Take a walk after dinner or work from a coffee shop instead of the home office.
These simple acts of change can help you feel inspired. You will find yourself seeing new surroundings or everyday places in a new light.
Photograph something familiar in a new way
It is said that the best photographs are the ones created by photographers who repeatedly visit the same locations. By revisiting the same spots, you can learn the behaviors of the environment, the lighting, and the atmosphere at various times of day.
You will find yourself noticing subtle textures and patterns in a subject and how to use those to highlight that subject in a more powerful way. You will also give yourself the opportunity to vary your images so that the same places and subjects feel fresh with each frame.
Consider the things that you regularly photograph. Think of fresh ways that you can approach these familiar subjects. Perhaps changing your lens will add the variety you are looking for. Maybe it’s changing your camera settings to shoot stopped down or with some motion blur will spark creativity. You can vary your perspective by photographing your familiar subjects from new angles.
Make mental notes as you change each of your habits. You might be surprised by how much you like what you create when you change things up!
Try a new hobby
Creativity breeds creativity. When you are feeling inspired in one hobby, you can often light a spark of inspiration in your other creative pursuits.
Since undertaking photography seriously, I have also taken classes in cake decorating, knitting, creative writing, and calligraphy. I took up home brewing, learned to garden, and became a birdwatcher. I’ve studied weather, tide patterns, and the behavior of animals. I’ve decorated and redecorated, learned to install hardwood flooring and backsplash tiling.
While each of these might not directly influence my photography, they are a way of growing and maintaining creativity. These pursuits, while they might not be personal passions like photography is, ignite the artistic side of my mind.
Consider a hobby outside of photography and take the time to entertain it. You will undoubtedly find it inspiring you in your photography and beyond.
A few years ago, there was a study I found to be so fascinating. It indicated that immersion in nature and disconnecting from technology increases an individual’s ability to perform problem-solving tasks.
Previous studies have also shown that exposure to nature helps with attention related disorders, increasing an individual’s ability to concentrate. Similar research has also shown that spending time in nature increases creative thinking. A simple 25 minute walk through a park is enough time to allow your brain time to rest and increase your cognitive functioning!
Regardless of the research, I know that I feel recharged and revitalized after spending time in nature. I become more observant, more focused on what is right in front of me, and less distracted by technology and personal worries.
Whether you take a weekend camping trip or just a walk through the neighborhood, taking the time to observe nature is proven to leave you feeling more creative.
Play tourist/take a field trip
It’s no secret that taking a vacation leaves you feeling refreshed and recharged. Visiting new places and having new experiences brings a wealth of shooting opportunities.
The unfamiliar sights and sounds of new cultures are sure to spark creativity and so I recommend packing your bags every chance you get! That said, taking a big trip isn’t always a possibility.
However, it is possible to find new experiences close to home. Ask yourself “if someone were coming to visit, where would I recommend they go?”
Research historical landmarks, museums, state and city parks, and other tourist spots. Check your local events calendar for upcoming exhibits, parades, and festivals. Take a day to explore a nearby town, try a new restaurant, and see your world like a tourist.
Connect with others
We are blessed to be constantly connected. Social media offers so much possibility for bringing people together. I find that using these online tools has greatly improved my day-to-day life as I use it to socialize with those I might not be able to see as often otherwise.
I have met and formed some of my best friendships through online forums, Instagram, and Facebook groups. We were brought together online through our shared love of photography and my photography friends leave me feeling inspired, motivated, and confident.
When I am struggling to find inspiration, working through a slump, or trying to move past creative insecurities, I always turn to a friend. I chat through the things that are weighing on my shoulders and it relieves a bit of the burden.
If connecting online isn’t the best option for you, reach out to a friend who also lives a creative life and get together for coffee. Consider joining a local photography meet-up group or club. The key is to connect with other creatives who understand the process and can support you best.
Move your body
Exercise is one of the best things that you can do to improve your health, both physically and mentally. Physical movement causes the body to release endorphins which lead to feelings of happiness and overall well-being.
Studies have found that exercise also encourages the growth of new cells in the hippocampus, the area of the brain which contributes to long-term memory and creativity.
It can be a brisk walk, a yoga class, or some heavy lifting at the CrossFit gym. Find the physical activity that you enjoy so that you are motivated to do it often rather than adding it to a list of chores. The benefits will impact you creatively and beyond.
Make creativity a priority
While it’s not always easy to maintain a constant flow of inspiration, adopting habits to boost your creativity will help to ignite your imagination. When you make your creative pursuits a priority, adding activities that keep your creativity stoked should be a priority, too.
Tell us all about how these activities inspire you and what other creativity-building activities you enjoy in the comments below!