10 Things I Recommend to Get Out of a Creative Slump.

Red Rocks Amphitheater for winter portrait sessions: Photo by Suzanne Lopez

Going out to a location at a different time of day than I was used to, forced me to think outside of my normal routine (the lighting was completely different), experiment and get out of the groove I am used to!

If you work as a creative, in any form, it is not uncommon to go through phases in your career where you just aren't vibin it.  Actually, I guess that could be applied to just about anything in life.  Whether it's working out, keeping up on tasks at home, work, doing things you KNOW you need to get done....all of these things can fall subject to burn out or just lack of motivation.

How do you get that lovin' feeling back?  I'm here to offer some ideas that I have used in the past, with regards to my craft, photography!

When you hit a plateau where you just. don't. wanna. play....that's the time you know you need to figure out how to get the life back into your craft.  Through my 18 years of having portrait photography bring income into my world, I have had about 3 major slumps.  There can be obvious reasons why, but sometimes we just don't understand why we have lost our passion, but I would argue that it has only been temporarily misplaced!

1) You know a slump has arrived when you are completely unmotivated, lacking in direction or desire to do what you KNOW you love to do. Identifying that it's merely a bump in the road, and not an all out catastrophe, is a BIG DEAL!!  

2) Say you are like me, a photographer, and you hit the wall.  The very first thing I do is pick up my camera, and head out by myself OR, being my main passion is photographing people, I head out with a model (aka, one of my children 😊 or someone who wants to hike with me) and just go shoot.  I go shoot for me.  I try to push myself to think outside of my normal box and realm of ideas and make some magic in a way I haven't before!  I can say that having experienced slumps, I try to avoid future slumps by making it a habit to shoot every weekend for myself, if not more often.  I make it an adventure with the intentions of creating images BETTER than the last time I created!

I usually completely avoid uneven light but during this adventure I tried to use the light in a different way.

3) Follow some NEW photographers that you haven't seen before on Instagram or other social image sharing platforms!  I get TONS of inspiration in seeing what other people do and how they see the world around them! It helps me break down my own thoughts and vision and see if I can open my eyes a little wider!

4) Try a new lens or camera out!  Cameras and lenses can be rented! I'm not by any means suggesting that you go buy a whole new set up to de-slump yourself but I clearly remember after getting my GoPro for Christmas one year, feeling completely revived!!  I had never shot with one, and was forced to figure out how to make that little tiny sucker work for ME!   I did that another time, trying out a super wide angle lens.  I had toyed with the idea of adding a lens to my collection so I rented one, played with it for a weekend, and it really worked at changing things up for me, and widening my horizons for what and how I liked to shoot!

This shot makes me laugh when I see it but I have such great memories of what I was attempting to do with my GoPro! Play and experiment with your gear!

5) Read a book! Yes!! This can help!  Read a book that will inspire you! It' doesn't have to be a self help book, or even a photography book, but a book that you can get lost in and turn your thoughts away from what you are missing in your life with your slump!  In addition to photography, I have a huge passion for fitness and nutrition and I found that when I am just burnt on straight portraits, redirecting my attention to another area of interest helps free my mind up!  I'm currently reading "Crushing it" by Gary Vaynerchuk and it is inspiring/motivating me beyond belief as an entrepreneur!!  Good stuff!!

This man has inspired me more than probably any other personality!  Highly recommend his book and podcasts!

6) Force yourself to choose one lens only, one that is NOT what you usually shoot with, and go do an entire session with just that lens.  I had a shoot awhile ago (a personal shoot of course) and I put my 85mm lens on and told myself I'm going to make THIS lens work for the entire session, and try to shoot as many different ways as possible! This is coming from a girl who keeps a much wider lens on her camera!  It was tricky but TOTALLY satisfying in the end!

This is from that session! I would normally shoot action with a wide lens and this one brought me right into the action. Definitely challenged me to think fast!

7) Join a photography forum or group! Facebook has a TON of groups that cater to different types and styles of photography and sometimes it's nice to be a part of a group to get feedback and inspiration from!  ...bonus is you develop a new online circle of friends with a common interest!

8) Join a local group of photographers!  I know there are groups of people here in Colorado that all love this medium, even if they aren't doing it for a living, and love doing meet ups and just shooting together! You can photograph each other, get new ideas and thoughts, make new friends!

9) Go through your old pictures and make a photo book of your all time favorites!!  This can remind you of your passion through the years and really highlight some of your favorite work to date and set it out on the coffee table for inspiration!  You can also enlarge some images,  or even get smaller prints to display, or change up older displays, in your home!  We so often keep our valued images on a virtual platform so having them them to hold and shuffle through is absolutely AMAZING!!

10) Finally, understand that focusing on what we HAVE (talent and ability) and not what we don't have (temporary loss of motivation), is the biggest piece of the puzzle.  Your passion, while it may be slightly lacking at the moment, it's not gone forever, I promise!  

I hope that you found some valuable tips here! I empathize when slumps happen and would love to be able to help you find your way out quickly!!

I love connecting with new people so please feel free to reach out and connect!!  suz@suzannelopezphotography.com

Follow me on Instagram or Pinterest for ideas and tips and inspiration!!