Your creative skills are like a muscle. If you don’t flex it from time to time, it’s gonna lose strength! As you look through your last batch of photos; your recent vlog edit; that blog article that you’ve been working on … do you think, “I need to mix things up a little here! I’m stuck in a creative rut”?
Well, look no further than this article. I’m going to share with you SIX of the things that I do to flex my creative skills and get out of a creative rut.
The Key To Flexing Your Creative Skills
You need to impose some heavy limitations upon yourself. When you do this you are forced to adapt how you work. You have to try something new. Also, you have to work the problem and get creative.
Pick a Subject
This can be anything. You can choose to only photograph things that are yellow. Things that are about the number ‘5’, things with wheels, reflections … anything you like BUT it must be new to you. Something completely out of the ordinary for you.
Between Your Legs
Bend over, look back through your legs and shoot. This forces you to view a different perspective. You are framing things upside down. I like this technique because it really sharpens your compositional skills.
This one is a scary one. Don’t attempt this if you have trouble catching. I would also recommend using a camera like a GoPro instead of your beautiful Sony Mirrorless, but it can be done. Just know that you do this at your own risk!
Set your camera shutter to the 2-second delay mode and set your focus manually.
What you’re going to do is, pick your subject, attempt to frame it up, press that shutter button and, at the last split-second, throw your camera up in the air. You want the shutter to fire whilst the camera is in the air. This can give some really interesting and unexpected results. Especially the spinning, birds-eye view selfie!
You know that game? Where you have to name a series of related things (Sci-fi movies, UK counties, countries, top athletes, etc) but the next one has to start with the last letter of the previous one. For example, naming camera gear starting with Sony (SonY, YashikA, AlphA, AtomoS, SamyanG, GobE, etc, etc).
You do the same in a photo series.
With your chosen subject you have to take a series of images that each begins with the last letter of the previous one. You can make this as strict and as complex as you would like.
Out Of Memory
This is a great one for getting that “Shooting Film” experience, but with the convenience of digital. Find a really small memory card. I still have a few around that are 256MB (that’s Mega with a capital M). This is the only reason I keep them around. I don’t even know if you can buy them anymore (You can):
Put this little beauty into your camera and set your image quality to the highest it will go. Full, uncompressed raw, no crop. You should find that you only have a few frames to play with. The rules are very simple:
Don’t delete any photos
Don’t Chimp at the screen after each frame (I turn image review mode off)
You’re done, when you’re done
You can only take a limited number of images. This really makes you approach photography in a different way. It gets rid of that, “Shoot everything, edit later” approach that I tend to have.
Each frame HAS to count.
It’s not right (ha!). It certainly isn’t fair. But this is a right-handed world. I have many left-handed friends and there are things that are unusually difficult for them. So let’s try to walk a little in their shoes.
Cameras are made for right-handed shooting. That’s the familiar. It’s also why you’re going to try and shoot it with your left hand. This may sound like a gimmick but there are real benefits to using your opposite hand.
The logic side of the brain is the right side. The creative side of the brain is the right brain, linked to your left side. This is also why more creative people are left-handed. So, tap into that by switching your creative tasks to the left side.
I use this all as justification to just try something different and break you out of that creative rut.
Why Your Creative Skills Need Flexing
When you work in a creative field day in and day out, you fall into certain routines. There are those things that you always seem to do. Personally, I revert to taking photos of everyday things and I tend to centre-frame everything. It’s a look that I like. It’s familiar. It’s safe. And it doesn’t require a lot of thought on my part.
I do this because, creatively, I’m tired / board.
In the spirit of, “A change is as good as a rest” I occasionally need to kickstart my creative skills again.
This applies to any creative skillset, but for the purposes of this blog, I tend to stick to photography examples.
If you’re a blogger, maybe you need to try a new format. Try a topic that you’ve never touched before.
If you’re a vlogger, the same thing. You can also use some of these shooting techniques as part of your filming. But remember, as a vlogger, there is ONE thing you need to master first!
How Big Are These Changes?
I guess it depends upon how big of a kickstart you want to give yourself. It also depends on how well you can cope with failure!
If trying something new, and failing will knock all the motivation out of your sails then I would suggest making smaller changes.
If you can treat this as an exercise and accept that the results are not the aim, then you cannot fail and you should make bigger changes. For example, say I try some crazy new technique and photograph a subject that I’m not familiar with in lighting that I would normally avoid. The first results are going to be terrible because I don’t know what I’m doing.
That is the whole point.
To experience something that is out of your comfort zone. You might learn something new. Great looking photos doesn’t mean a great success. The look of the photos is unimportant.
The photos are a by-product of flexing your creative skills.
We all like to stick with the familiar. It’s a comfort zone and we know what we can achieve in it. But, we need to shake things up from time to time. Otherwise, we are going to lose what makes working in a creative field so interesting and exciting. Being creative! Making something out of nothing. This is one of the best feelings in the world. When you look back on what you’ve managed to create and you like what you see.
It’s also addictive. I think that is why we become hard-wired to stick with the familiar. We know it gives us the results we want. But here’s a secret:
The bigger the challenge, the bigger the “Creative High”
Challenging ourselves is the only way to grow. Use this simple exercises to break you out of a creative rut, sharpen your creative skills and reach new creative highs.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you found something useful. If you DO use any of these techniques (and you feel like publishing them) don’t forget to tag me in them so I can see what you’ve managed to create. Drop me a message on Instagram and Twitter if you have any questions. Or even, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Thanks again, have a great day, watch less, create more,