How to Keep Your Creativity Fresh

One of the many challenges for photographers when starting out as well as experienced shooters is how to keep your creative juices flowing?

We often times get bogged down with other things, children, day jobs, home and car repairs, or just plain everyday life in general and we can lose our edge. You might be shooting portraits most of the time because it is your ‘bread and butter’ or how you pay the bills but then you get into this rut of shooting the same stuff over and over again and next thing you know, you’ve lost your creative edge.

One of the things I do to try to keep myself creative is I constantly look at things with a ‘photographer’s eye’. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but it helps to keep me from hitting a creative rut. I’ll look at things in my surroundings at my day job and imagine how I could photograph them and make them look interesting. I even go as far as to keep my Sony NEX 6 in my backpack all the time, not only so I can shoot any one of the hundreds of accidents I see on my way to and from work but to keep my creative juices flowing.

How would my keyboard look shot from this angle or that? What can I use that I have at my desk to create an interesting effect in my photography? I even do this when I am out shooting for my personal project, ‘Forgotten Pieces of Georgia’, I am never just shooting my project. I love railroad stuff and it’s usually popular on sites like, so I take 3 or 4 bodies with me in the car with different lenses so I don’t have to mess around changing lenses, I can just grab a different body and shoot something new along the way. This first image is a plain RR sign I changed to B&W to make it more dramatic.

Plain RR sign I changed to B&W to make more dramatic.

I know many students will say, “well that’s all well and good but I only have one camera body, I cannot afford to have two or three of them, they are just too expensive”. Depending on your situation, this may be true, but if you have a decent day job, I’ll bet you can afford more bodies. One of the best sources is or eBay but I prefer CL as I can meet the person face to face and test the equipment out. You need to remember what I told you in an earlier post, you don’t need the latest and greatest camera to make awesome images and I know the Professors here at AI will back me up on that one. Stop getting hung up on Mega Pixels and the latest bells and whistles and buy what works and is reliable.

I personally have technically eight cameras in my collection. I have the Canon 1D Mark II, Canon 50D, 2 Canon 5D Classics, a Canon 6D, a Sony NEX 6, the iPad Air 2 and my iPhone 6 Plus. Only a couple of these cameras are new models, the rest are up to ten years old but I still use them as they still work and take fantastic images. I also know from personal experience you can go on-line and find say a Canon T1i or T2i for next to nothing. I have seen them sell for as little as $100-$150 and whether you realize it or not, they have the exact same basic technology as the new T5i you got through the school.

If you ask anyone that is knowledgeable in cameras, especially Canon gear, they will tell you to this day that the 1D Mark II and 5D Classic take fantastic images, especially if they are clean and in good working order. The 1D Mark II is around 12 years old but is one of Canon’s first cameras with high frames per second for sports shooting and I also keep it for some studio work as I have the AC studio power supply so I can shoot without batteries for hours and hours. It’s only 8.2MP but anything 6 and higher is more than enough. I actually used it for several of my classes at AI and received compliments for my images shot with it not only from my Professors as well as classmates. This second image is a close up of a row of Laotian prayer bowls from the Laotian New Year’s 2014 celebration that I shot for a friend.

Laotian prayer bowls from Laotian New Year 2014

So shop around, pick up a spare Canon T1i or T2i or XSi for $100 or so, shoot some test images to see if the sensor is dirty, if it is clean it yourself or take it to a shop and pay $30-$50 to get it cleaned and *BAM* now you have two bodies to use.

Now that you are properly armed for anything, work on new ways to keep yourself creative. Have a 2 year old at home, get down to their level and take a look around. See things from their eyes and then shoot what you see, you’d be amazed and how you can use a simple idea like this to come up with some great new images and keep your creativity going.