Ways to Avoid Complacency -- How to Stay Inspired

I had a bit of an epiphany a couple of weeks ago--I was in the middle of a session when I began to get completely overwhelmed by a really strong feeling. I quickly sensed a pang of guilt once I realized that there was a strong feeling of familiarity and repetition. As creatives, it's not a new concept that we occasionally get burned out; often times not even realizing it.The feeling of creative-exhaustion and repetition came while I was completing assignments for my program at NAIT, becoming burned-out was an all too familiar feeling. The mix of continual deadlines and assignments that didn't even begin to peak my interest made for a lot of "last minute" photo sessions and unoriginal ideas. Thankfully, now that I'm out of school, I've never had to deal with such a strong bought of fizzled creativity. As a full-time photographer, it's so much easier to find ways to re-vive your creativity, especially since I don't have assignments to "hand-in" or don't have to shoot  types of photography that I don't enjoy.

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Over the past 6 months, I've developed a few personal methods to help me with avoiding that feeling of lack-lustre and complacency:

  • First an foremost, ALWAYS remember that even though this may be your 100th photo session, this could be the FIRST time your clients are having their picture taken. Never become so familiar with your craft that you forget just how special being a photographer really is. We are capable of capturing people's memories in the utmost creative and unique way, which is why it's key to always treat each session as if it's your first.
  • Remember that fiery passion (often mixed with the feeling of throwing up haha) that you got before your first ever session, or wedding? Channel that energy! I STILL get nervous before each and every wedding I photograph, and it's so neat once you can channel that nervousness into creative and exciting energy!
  • Don't be afraid to try new things! I like to give myself a new challenge every month-or-so, and it's a great way to inspire myself! It can be something as simple as trying out a new pose, or challenging yourself to "get close" during the session. "Getting Close" was something that I used this past summer, and it REALLY helped in developing how I want to capture the couple's that I photograph. Another great thing to do is to try out a new method that you've never used! Try out a double exposure, the Brenizier Method, or incorporate other elements into your photograph.
  • Lastly, get out there and shoot something for yourself! One of the best ways that I find to get inspired it to shoot something that you've been longing to shoot for a while. Whether it be a styled session or simple portraits of a friend, DO whatever creative ideas continually consume your thoughts. Shooting something for ourselves is incredible for the creative soul, and will definitely re-ignite that spark!

Overall, just remember that what you do is unique to you. There are a lot of photographers out there, but there isn't another YOU; your business and your photography is as creative and as unique as you're willing to make it.

Do you have your own personal methods to deal with complacency? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, it's always fun to hear about other ways to get the creative juices flowing!