Posted by: mcshanphoto | 15/03/2011

Getting creatively unstuck

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking. – W. B. Yeats

I recently saw a post from a fellow photog I follow on twitter who was agonizing over his lack of inspiration and loss of interest in photography in general.  As any creative person knows…we all have been there.  Winter, in particular, is a tough season for many people.  Though even when I lived in a place that had a proper winter I always got a bit energized.  Perhaps it’s due to growing up in a city without real seasons, but anytime there was snow or ice I was out there in my layers with my camera.

Now that Spring is upon us I wanted to share some of the things I try to do when I’m feeling uninspired:

1) Take a walk/Do some yoga (basically move myself).  Besides, it’s much better to take a walk with camera in hand then drive and look around (and end up in an accident).

2) Stop and really look around. Most of us drive on autopilot, but when you’re at a stop sign/stop light take a look around, and if necessary drive back to something you might have thought interesting previously.  We have so much stuff in our heads most of the time that we often fail to notice the simplest things around us.

3) Meditate/Quiet time.  Really…taking maybe a few minutes to sit and be quiet does wonders to clear the head and bring focus.  I’ve struggled with developing a meditation practice but now that I have one I definitely see and feel the difference.

4) Take an online/offline class or workshop.  Last summer I joined an online group of photographers for a Flickr ‘August Break‘ challenge which forced me to get out, shoot and share.  More recently I’ve signed up for Susannah Conway’s Unravelling online course, which starts next week. I can’t wait.

5) Go to an art gallery or museum. If you can’t find something to inspire you there…

6) Look at a favorite art book or magazine. If you need to, then go to your local bookstore and browse if you’re bored/not inspired with what you have at home.

7) Go on to Flickr and give comments and praise to other photographers’ work.  There’s that warm and fuzzy feeling about letting someone else know how much you really like their images.

I’m sure there are others.  In the event that the above and your own ideas aren’t working for you then maybe you do need to take a break, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Use this time away from being creative to focus on other areas of your life.  Know that when you least expect it, inspiration will find you.  Hopefully you’ll have a camera nearby…

Memorial Bridge, Washington DC - Winter



  1. One of the unexpected Good Things that came from switching up my commute to the ferry from driving to biking is it has released some of those creative blocks. Plus I see a LOT more of my town while riding my bicycle.

    And she makes a lovely photo subject herself!

    • Thanks Victoria. And yeah…I could only imagine how my perspective would change if I wasn’t in a car. More walking! Speaking of…see you at our next walk.

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