Five Ways To Break Out of a Photography Rut

Originally published on The Daily Post on

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a novice hobbyist, you’ve likely experienced a feeling of burnout or stagnation in your photography, at least once. In this article, I’ll be sharing five quick tips for breaking out of a photography rut. Try them alone, try them together, or maybe even turn them into a photoblogging project, where each tip is the topic for a new post.

Shoot outside of your comfort zone.

Do you typically go for flower macros, or landscape shots? Try some street photography of people, but make sure you’re familiar with your limitations. Try to diverge as much as possible from your norm, even if something doesn’t immediately sound appealing. You might be surprised with what you discover.

Tip: Exploration is fun, but make sure you’re allowed to be where you wander.

Lifestyle shoots are a fun and emerging niche in photography, where you simply document life as it happens. If you’re used to shooting posed subjects or stationary objects, this type of photojournalistic approach might be fun for you.

Go somewhere that inspires you.

Maybe there’s a place that you love to shoot, but you haven’t been there in a while. Make it a priority to get there again. Return to where you first felt the spark for photography.

Volunteer your time somewhere, and practice your craft for a good cause. Document a charity 5k, or provide animal portraits for a rescue shelter’s website. Do a portrait project at an assisted living home, and collect the stories of the residents to go with their photos. Use your photography to serve.

Shoot with someone else.

Go on a photo walk with a more experienced photographer friend. Or, be the experienced one, and take along a novice. Seeing the world through a fresh pair of eyes may kickstart your creativity.

Master a new technique or piece of equipment.

Find a vintage film camera at a secondhand store, and learn to use it. Rent a new lens, and master it. Create a DIY reflector, and play with natural light.

If you can’t get your hands on any new gear, teach yourself a new technique. Learn how to shoot a macro. Photograph a sporting event where the movement is fast, and you need a quick shutter speed. Always shoot during the day? Low-light photography is extremely challenging, and yields dreamy, rewarding results.

Revisit old work to see how much you’ve grown.

This is my personal favorite, though some of my earliest work makes me cringe. Images underexposed or overexposed, scream-worthy editing fads in Photoshop, missed focus. But my old work has value — it shows me how far I’ve come as an artist, and inspires me to continue to develop my craft. Where might I be at this time next year? Where will you be, as a photographer?

Tip: Don’t let the comparison to others’ best work drag down your confidence. The only work you should be comparing yours to is your own from a year ago.