Fact: I am not always inspired to photograph.
Also fact: I am capable of creating despite my lack of inspiration. And so are you.
Like any craft, the art of photography, at times, requires discipline, commitment, focus, and determination. It necessitates taking purposeful steps in pursuing beauty.
It's "easy" to sit on my sofa with a cup of coffee and gaze out my windows at the beautiful blooms. Being intentional is choosing a lens, picking up my camera, walking out the door, exploring a new technique or angle, and seeking vision.
Over the past few weeks, I have done just that. Some days were full of work, driving my kids in 100 directions and picking them up from the 100 directions their lives took them, not to mention errands and chores. Days when the sun didn't shine. Days when the mosquitos attacked my legs voraciously (why are they so relentless?!) What didn't change was the beauty that was right outside my back door. The intricate layers of petals. The brilliant colors. The leaves were rich in green growth.
So how do I create when I am simply not feeling it?
● Choose a unique lens
Do you have a "go-to" lens? One that you are comfortable with? Does that spend most of the time on your camera? Well… put it aside. It's time to try something different. Perhaps it's a lens from when you first started photography (for me, like the "nifty fifty" 50mm).
Maybe it's a vintage lens (like the Helios) you purchased on a whim from eBay.
Or it could be a lens with a creative effect, such as a Lensbaby. Once that lens is secured, take one or two subjects and explore different angles, apertures, and times of the day. Determine to use just this lens for a specified amount of time (such as every day for a week) to expand your ideas of its capabilities and capacity.
"So how do I create when I am simply not feeling it?"
● Experiment with a new technique
Like what? What kind of technique do you mean? Well, there's freelensing - that's where you quickly detach the lens from the camera body (being careful not to allow dust/dirt/sand/crumbs to enter) and hold it close to the camera. You can then tilt it slightly to get different slices of focus. You also can flip the lens around and create a macro effect.
Another option is intentional camera movement. This involves slowing the shutter speed and moving the camera as you click the shutter. It can create a sense of movement and painterly abstract images.
Have you tried double exposures? This technique involves layering two or more photographs on top of one another. This can be done in camera (check your camera manual for instructions!) or post-processing applications such as Photoshop. Experimenting with double exposures can create wonder-filled images with a level of intrigue.
● Let other artists challenge and inspire you
Are you connected to a photography community? If not, I highly recommend it! Whether it's through social media or a local camera club, connecting with others, sharing your work, discussing vision, and opening your mind to learning from them are awesome ways to continue creating despite a lack of inspiration.
For example, Lensbaby has been hosting Photowalks where you gather with other photographers at a specified location and stroll through the streets or area, capturing and also chatting, problem-solving, and gaining a view of their perspective. Recently I was challenged by a participant to use my Twist60 for portraits, and the next day took the leap and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
I am connected to multiple "loops" on Instagram, where artists post simultaneously and link to one another's pages. These loops have themes and therefore encourage me to capture with a specific idea in mind (and also hold accountability to my fellow photographers!) Although it takes me out of my comfort zone, I join others to post in a bi-weekly self-portrait loop.
Not every moment of every day is a slice of artist paradise, yet with a small step of intentionality, you may find creativity unearthed and set free. And who knows, your choice and art may inspire others to do the same, making the world a richer place.
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“I find creative passion by envisioning and capturing the world surrounding me and the light that permeates it with the dreamlike, magical, unique focus Lensbabys provide.”
Liz finds joy in light and life. Her inspiration comes from the beauty of the everyday moments, the blessings of God's amazing creation. She lives in her hometown in South-Central Pennsylvania with her family where she practices occupational therapy in early intervention, runs, hikes, and bikes in the nearby forests and farmlands, and creates art and vision through the lens.