Avoid Those Photography Ruts – By David Cobb

February 2nd, 2012 by photocascadia

During the year, I shoot a lot—between workshops, for projects and assignments, and of course, just for fun. With all that photography, I’m bound to get into a rut from time-to-time, and when I do I use these helpful techniques.

Play: This is what I got into photography for in the first place – to have fun! I can’t let myself forget that either, so every once in a while I do something new or inventive to put the fun back into photography. With the image below I spent a rainy day in January photographing a flower through glass and water droplets. I spent hours bent over my camera photographing and having fun (not to mention putting a crimp in my back), but this simple project helped pass the time and re-energize my creativity just by giving myself a simple assignment. Switch it up – if you’re a landscape photographer then photograph people, wildlife, or even food for a while. The change may prove helpful and even fruitful.

Study: I spend a fair amount of time going to art museums, reading books and blogs, and looking at photography from online postings, class portfolios, and major photo exhibitions. All of this helps influence and inspire my photography. In late 2010 to early 2011 I read and studied three books on Chinese art to help influence, change, and stimulate my compositional way of thinking. That time was well spent and helped influence the images below.

Concentrate on business: If you make a living at photography full-time or part-time, then sometimes it works to put your camera down for a while and concentrate on the business side of things. I often take the months of January and February to help organize the upcoming workshops, send images out to vendors, catch up on processing, catch up on key wording, organize my finances for taxes, apply for permits, and generally plan for the future. And sometimes I just need to stop and think. Making time for the business side of photography helps me in the long-run by making time later for my creative side.

Photograph closer to home: In 2011, I photographed across 35 states and 3 Canadian provinces in 6 months, so the last thing I wanted to do was get on another airplane and head to a photo destination. I plan on staying put for a while to photograph closer to home. It’s fun to get reacquainted with your local surroundings and find new angles, discover new photo locations, and take the time to see the old locales in a new way photographically. The image below was taken a few days ago, not long after a fresh snowfall.

Travel: If you spend too much time at home, the opposite may be true. Sometimes it pays to just go somewhere else and see new locations. I know for me, a new place brings with it a fresh perspective and allows me to break away from the rut of my usual haunts.

These tips might not keep you totally away from one of those photography ruts, but by following a few of these suggestions you might avoid one for a long-long time.

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  • Great tips David. Sometimes it is so easy to get in a rut and the challenge is to get out. Great photos by the way. I’d be interested in hearing some about the processing on the Stone Garden image.

    • photocascadia

      Thanks for your comment Joe. The “Stone Garden” image was processed using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro. I plan on discussing this image and more like it for an upcoming blog, so stay tuned. ~ David Cobb

  • Excellent post, David. This is some great idea you have there, thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • photocascadia

      Thanks for your comment Anne, and I hope your photography ruts are few and far between! ~ David Cobb