When you are a creative person it is inevitable that you will, at some point, face the dreaded RUT. Oh, you already know all about that?? Me too! Honestly, it happens more than I would like to admit. I probably hit a rut cycle every 2-3 months. I know, it's ALOT. I kind of consider an expert when it comes to the art of getting yourself through a rut. So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite tips to help you the next time you are feeling a little less creative than normal. Bonus all but one are FREE!
Even though it may be the last thing you want to do try and push yourself to keeping shooting. Their have been so many times that I have picked up my camera when I really didn't want to. Sometimes I got nothing. Other times I got one awesome image that totally re-inspired me. The more I keep trying the more likely I am get that killer shot.
TRY SOMETHING NEW!
What is something you have been dying to try just for fun? Have you been wanting to learn something new or improve on a skill? This is the perfect time to try something new. The best part is that most of the options cost little to nothing to try. A few things that I have tried during my ruts are...
Freelensing- The process of detaching the lens from the camera and moving the lens around to create a dreamy blur to your image. I love Erin Hensley's tutorial on freelensing if you need a starting place.
Buying/Borrowing new equipment- This is the only one I'll recommend that might cost you a little money. In the past, I have borrowed lenses on my wish list from friends. It's a great way to play with a new creative element plus you get to try before you buy. Another idea is to buy a really inexpensive toy for your camera. I like macro filters $15, copper pipe (ring of fire technique) under $10, Prisms $10-$15
Search your house for objects that might be fun to experiment with - Try a plastic bag or bubble wrap around your lens. I once found a cheap kaleidoscope that my boys had and I shot through that thing for a good week.
Focus on an area you want to improve – dedicate a few days or a week to learning or improving a skill. I love playing with light and I feel like I can never learn enough about it. So sometimes I will spend a week focusing on a specific type of light and learn as much as I can about it. What area would you like to improve?
Join a group or challenge- Sometimes to get out of your rut you just need a little help from your friends. Joining a tog group or a photo challenge is a great way to rekindle your little creative fire. There a TON different options out there. Try a 52 week challenge or maybe a weekly/monthly themed group. I just finished my very first 365 (photo a day challenge) and let me tell you, I learned so much in those 365 days. I am so thankful that I started and gave my self a reason to keep pushing myself.
Yes, I said get excited. Think about it. There is a good chance that you are about to learn something new and grow in your artistic journey. That's a pretty exciting thing. Nowadays when I start to feel the rut coming on I try to remind myself that every single time I go through this cycle I learn something that makes me a better photographer. And you will too, promise!
TURN OFF THE NOISE
Social media can be an incredible tool for endless inspiration. The opportunity to have access to some of the most incredible photographers is awesome but that inspiration can quickly turn into comparison and that can be a vicious game to play. Just turn it off. Put down the phone or even better put it somewhere that is not easily accessible. Then I want you to tell yourself how awesome you are. Because you REALLY ARE AWESOME! Go spend some time with a tog friend and try to inspire each other. Surround yourself with the people who make you feel loved and special.
KNOW WHEN TO PUT DOWN THE CAMERA
When all else fails and you feel like nothing is working it might be time to set your camera down. Yep, it said it. Put it down and slowly back way. Just take a breather. You don't need to put so much stress on yourself. Go do something that makes you feel happy. The camera will always be waiting for you as soon as you are ready. I think you'll be surprised how quickly you are re-inspired when you don't put so much pressure on yourself.
So The moral of the story is don't be so hard on yourself. You are learning and growing. When you are an artist those two things should always be evolving. Ruts are good things. You just have to look at them the right way.