MEG member Danny Conant shares some suggestions for getting out of a photographic rut.
Most of us have had the feeling at times of being stuck or stale in our photographic life. It’s no fun working on something that doesn’t inspire you or hammering away at a piece that you secretly know you are never going to like. So we need to refresh and get out of that unproductive rut.
Over the years I have found some things that have given me a jump-start to pulling out of the rut. If you are feeling uninspired, make time to visit a gallery or museum or studio of an artist. I say make time, not take time, because you will say, “I don’t have time.” I don’t have it either, so I have to make it by perhaps giving up something else.
Sometimes it’s better to see a painting exhibit than one of photography. You may come away with some new thoughts after seeing what is driving that particular painter or sculptor or printmaker.
Other suggestions are to do something different even if it is a little uncomfortable and/or take a class to learn something new or challenging. Recently, I took a writing workshop in Tuscany, even though I know nothing about real writing. The first day I struggled along as I wrote the assignment. While that alone wasn’t comfortable, an even more terrifying part came when I had to read what I had written to all of the other accomplished writers. The good news? The earth didn’t open up and swallow me and everyone was too polite to ask why was I in that class.
At the end of the day, I was fine with the whole process. After five days of work, I came away with a new feeling for words. And while I still love my visuals, one day I’m going to put them both together.
Another favorite inspirational help is belonging to a couple of small low-key groups of like-minded photographers who get together a few times a year to share ideas and work.
Finally, when an image is just not responding to me after a reasonable amount of time, I simply let it go. There will be other images.
Overall, I think my main tool for getting out of a rut is my lack of fear of failure. If I am afraid of failing, I won’t try anything new or push my boundaries at all.
Danny's work can be seen daily at Multiple Exposures Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA.