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Staying Vigilant and Creative in Photography: Navigating the Lulls


By Hein Jonker

Every photographer, whether a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic amateur, has experienced that unsettling quiet — the lull. The period where the camera feels more like a weight than a tool of expression. It’s in these moments that the fine line between professional photography and casual snapping blurs. But remember, every artist, irrespective of their medium, encounters creative droughts. The key is to navigate through them and come out even more inspired. Here’s how to stay vigilant, creative, and motivated during these phases:

  1. Revisit and Reflect

Dive deep into your old photos. Re-examine them not just as finished works, but as milestones in your journey. Think about what inspired you at that moment, what you felt, and how you’ve grown since. Sometimes, retracing your steps can reignite the passion.

  1. Challenge Yourself with Themes

Assign yourself weekly or monthly themes. This gives direction to your creativity. For instance, choose “shadows” for one week or “red” for another. This not only sharpens your observational skills but also makes the mundane seem magical.

  1. Join a Photography Group

Community can be a powerful motivator. Join local photography groups or online forums. Engage in challenges, attend meet-ups, share your work, and get feedback. The camaraderie and healthy competition can be invigorating.

  1. Embrace a New Technique or Gear

Invest time in learning a new technique. It could be a post-processing skill or a genre of photography you’ve never tried. Alternatively, rent a new lens or camera. The novelty can inspire a fresh perspective.

  1. Educate Yourself

Attend workshops or online classes. Read photography books or watch documentaries on renowned photographers. A deeper understanding of the craft and its history can provide a richer context for your own work.

  1. Mundane to Marvelous

Challenge yourself to find beauty in the mundane. That potted plant, the streets you walk every day, or even your own living room can be viewed through a fresh lens. Sometimes constraints foster the most creativity.

  1. Collaborate

Work with another artist — it could be a writer, painter, or musician. See how you can blend both art forms into a single project. Collaboration often sparks new ideas and approaches.

  1. Travel or Simply Change the Scenery

Even if it’s just a day trip to a nearby town, changing your environment can stimulate your senses. If traveling isn’t an option, try altering your routine — take a different route to work or visit a new coffee shop.

  1. Physical and Mental Well-being

A sound body and mind often lead to clearer vision and creativity. Engage in physical activities, meditate, or simply take regular breaks. A relaxed mind is more receptive to inspiration.

  1. Accept the Lull

It’s essential to remember that it’s okay to have lulls. They’re natural and can be a sign that your mind is assimilating, reflecting, and recharging. Accepting this can alleviate the frustration and allow for an organic resurgence of creativity.

You see, photography is as much a journey of the soul as it is of skill. Like any journey, there will be highs and lows. But it’s in navigating these that one finds growth, meaning, and renewed passion. Stay curious, stay vigilant, and remember, every shot, whether borne out of inspiration or sheer will, adds a page to your ever-evolving photographic story.

Now, go and have fun!