I often run into photographers who will make the remark during the course of our conversation that they are “coming up empty” with ideas to shoot. And, they wonder if it is time to retire their cameras and look for something else to do. Well … that would be a little hasty in my opinion. Every artist – no matter the chosen field of expression – runs into this situation in their creative lives … and more than once.
It is not uncommon for a creative individual to just not have an idea that they are really excited about pursuing. In one’s career it: 1) has happened, 2) is happening now, or 3) is going to happen. Get ready for it and learn to accept the inevitable.
So what does one do who is driven to be creative do in this “crisis”? My simple suggestion is to “self-assign” yourself a project to shoot. It can be a really simple concept that - at first glance – doesn’t really ring your bells. But accept the challenge you presented to yourself and just do it. This is not all that uncommon for the photographers of the world who get assignments to shoot or commissions to take on.
Okay, so you are going to considering this … good. But you still have nothing. All righty then, let me offer some suggestions just to start the creative thoughts flowing:
1) The Color Red …. Look for things that are red in color – you’ll start seeing red things where you never saw them before(you can pick any color you like),
2) Groups of Three … look for subjects that are in groups of three (or any number for that matter),
3) Reflections … look for reflections – they are everywhere; in windows, in water puddles, in mirrors, in metal surfaces, in sunglasses, in just about anything that has reflective qualities,
4) Pick a shape … circles, squares, triangles,
5) Look for repeating patterns …. Fences, light poles, parking meter,
You get the idea. Now, admittedly some of these sounds boring, stupid or just silly. But once you set your mind to looking for the common everyday kind of thing in the world around you, you will soon realize that they have been there all the time, you just never really took notice.
So what is the benefit from all of this you ask? Well, for one, this will start your creative mind’s eye working for you again. Seeing things in a way that you never really saw before. The world around you will take on a new look – and quite possibly you will find that something something that will take hold of your imagination and set you on a course of new photographs.
Does it really work … well I will share this with you: I know a few photographers who have turned self-assignments that really worked out well for them into coffee table books and art prints that they sell. I gave myself one such assignment a while back – one that I am still working on and that I will be releasing shortly as my second coffee table book …. So what do you think?
The self-assignment is a great tool for any creative person to try when they find themselves blocked for ideas. There are a great many things out in your world just waiting for you to see them with your unique vision of the world around you – find it, capture it and share it. That is one of the reasons you are here.