Ever feel stuck, uninspired, in a photography rut? Not sure what to photograph and need some ideas? Well, look no further! Read on to get inspiration, motivation, and a spark to get your own ideas from here.
And now on to the five inspirational ideas for you to try.
How to Get Out of a Photography Rut
- Try doing some long exposures
- Try your hand at light painting
- Recreate or use a famous painting or photo for inspiration
- Shoot all Black & White for a week
- Look up – literally!
#1 Do Some Long Exposures
Long exposure photography is a great way to try something new and create some fantastic images. It also forces you to slow down and use your tripod which is kind of appropriate (slower photographer, slower shutter speed).
The kinds of subjects that work well for trying out some long exposure photography are:
- Waterfalls or flowing water (that could even be a fountain in a local park)
- Capturing car trails in the city at night
- Night photography in general
- Star trails and astophotography and the Milky Way
- Intentional camera movement
- Zooming during the exposure
- Light painting (which I’ll give it’s own topic below because it’s special)
Click on any of the links above to learn more about any of those subjects and to get exposure and camera setting tips.
Long exposure photography allows you to create images not possible to the naked human eye. So it will push your photography to the next level and help you stand out from the crowd as well.
#2 Try Light Painting
Similar to tip number one, this technique also requires a long exposure but this time you will be adding the light yourself!
Light painting is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun to do and can include a non-photography friend, spouse, kids, or grandkids as well. Plus at the end, you’ll have some really cool images you can’t create any other way.
Like these for example . . .
How you do this is you literally use light just like a paintbrush, and you add it to a dark scene. It is best done at night in an area with little light pollution, but your basement could work too!
The images that are possible to create using light painting can be ethereal, spooky, beautiful, unique, or all the above. Can you see why I gave this topic its own heading?!
Now you might be asking, “it looks complicated – how do I do it? Do I need a lot of special equipment?” The short answer is nope!
All you need is your camera, a tripod, and a flashlight – at the bare minimum. You can also use a flash (speedlight) if you have one, sparklers, glow sticks from the dollar store, etc. Anything that adds light or glows!
When I found out I was going to Venice for the famous carnival, I wanted to bring my light painting tools to create something different. I wanted to make images that the people in costumes haven’t seen before. Because they go back every year and get hundreds of photos taken of themselves – I wanted mine to be totally unique.
How did I do (see images above and below)? I think I nailed it!
Inspired yet? Feel your photography rut disappearing slowly? Keep reading!
To learn how to do light painting, check out these articles:
- Light Painting Experiments to Improve Your Photography
- Fun With Light Painting at Home
- Tips and Tools for Light Painting – Review of Light Painting Brushes
- How to Make a Stunning Light Painted Image Using Photoshop Layers
- Video: How to Light Paint a Flower in Total Darkness
- Three Special Effects for Night Photography
#3 Find a Famous Artwork to Recreate
This is an idea that circulated on Instagram shortly after the covid pandemic started. It was started by an account in Amsterdam and took off like wildfire.
You can find many of them under the hashtag #museumchallenge on Instagram. Here are some of the most popular ones.
You do NOT have to create a photographic masterpiece to do this challenge. You just need a little imagination and a sense of humor. Then have fun with it!
If you feel you aren’t creative enough, get a 10-year-old involved. I am guessing they will have a TON of ideas. And you can get them to look at art and expand their knowledge and worldviews at the same time as a bonus!
All you have to do is pick a piece of art to replicate. It can be a painting, sculpture, or even a famous photograph.
Many of the world’s biggest and best art galleries now offer online visits so take advantage of that and just browse. Who knows, you may get inspired just by looking at the art!
#4 Shoot Black & White
Sometimes just changing up the way you do things can get you motivated, unstuck and out of a photography rut. One simple way you can do that is to just change your camera picture style (it may be called something else on your camera) or camera profile to Monochrome.
As long as you are capturing images in the raw file format, you will still get a color file to work with during the processing phase. But the image you see on the camera’s LCD screen during playback will be black and white.
Photographing in black and white can help you learn to see light and shadows as well. So if that is something you struggle with, then this one will be a double whammy for you!
Black and white reduces the scene to just the tones of light. Look for the shadows and contrast. Go make some dramatic monochromatic images.
#5 Look up, WAY up!
Okay, this last idea for how to get out of a photography rut is the simplest of all – just look up. Literally!
A high percentage of the time we photographers tend to look straight ahead, at our own eye level. So in order to change it up a little, change your perspective and aim your lens upward.
What do you see? Trees? Clouds? Birds? Skyscrapers? Or maybe you’re indoors and you see an interesting ceiling or stairwell going up and up.
All the images in the collection above were taken with the camera aimed upwards. I challenge you to spend a week looking up and see what you notice!
I hope you are inspired now to get out of your photography rut and go try one of these exercises.
Please share your images in the comment area below – I’d love to see what you come up with!
In a previous article, I shared five other ideas if you want even more: 5 Photography Ideas When There’s Nothing Interesting to Shoot.