inspiration from urban exploration

inspiration from urban exploration

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

About the Author:

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. Visit Allison Zercher online.


  1. Alice C. May 27 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Fabulous advice Allison!

  2. Gea May 27 2014 at 12:55 pm - Reply

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

  3. Nella May 27 2014 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    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.

  4. Anne M May 27 2014 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    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. 🙂

  5. sherrie May 27 2014 at 3:12 pm - Reply

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

  6. Adele Humphries May 27 2014 at 6:07 pm - Reply

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

  7. Julia May 27 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    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! 🙂

  8. celeste pavlik May 31 2014 at 11:27 am - Reply

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

  9. Allison Jun 01 2014 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    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.’

  10. Alana Rasbach Jun 12 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I love every single image, Allison!

  11. jennifer123 Jun 14 2014 at 12:16 am - Reply

    *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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