High Five and Getting Unstuck

In a recent city sponsored event, I watched this candid moment unfurl.


If you’re a regular reader of Snapmammas.com (and thank you!) this picture is jumping the chronological queue of my life events. It appears today because it parlays a subject with a central focus point: something to do with “hands;” and that dovetails off the previous two posts that did the same.

I could have left this post as a simple street photo; TA-DAH. Instead, I’m going to put out some ideas to help you get unstuck from your own photo making rut. It’s OK to admit that you could be reading this very blog because you have hit a creative wall.

My short advice is to try out a self-assigned theme or subject idea, and find it with your camera. GO!

My long advice starts here. Hold my hand for a minute or two and read below, because it’s going to be alright.

You might be filled with excuses to avoid making new photos: “it’s the wrong time of day to shoot;”  “it’s raining;” “I’m sick;” “I don’t see anything interesting around me;” “my camera is being serviced;” OK, OK. Do something I’ve suggested in another post.  Turn to your own previously captured work. Look to see if already you have photographed a subject from many points of view, or in various situations. Treat it like a “where’s Waldo” exercise, and crop in tighter with editing software to emphasize your theme.

Do you have the light and time and gear available? If so, start your own picture making scavenger hunt. If you are someone who shoots with friends, tell everyone to go find photos with “——–(fill in the blank).” Set a time frame. Send everyone out to return by the deadline and compare results. Get inspired again.

If you make photos on your own because it’s your calling, do the scavenger hunt alone. Get out there to make new images with your chosen theme. Don’t overly concern yourself with the technical side at first. Just get in the zone.  And please, make sure the theme you select is general enough that you’re not pulling out your hair trying to find examples of it.

Need some suggestions on themes? Try on some new hats. Break your own barriers and try a style that is not your usual. Or do your style, but try the new theme:

* Are you a street photographer? Focus on people wearing hats; or riding bikes; or carrying shopping bags; or fixing their hair;

* Are you around young people? Focus on ways that kids play games: board games; park games; swimming pool games;

* Are you interested in architecture? Focus on a certain type of structure or detail; bridges; doorways, passages, windows; cornerstones;

* Are you interested in landscapes? Focus on intersections; hills; street curves; mountains; trees.

A search for your subject may jumpstart your photo mojo.

Once you have three or more images, take a break and consider what you like and dislike about the photos. Change up and modify and let the feedback loop inspire you onwards. Can you make 12 shots? how about 36 themed shots? Keep going until you have some choice pieces.  Perhaps you will have enough for an essay or exhibit.

In no time, you’ll have an interesting collection, a feeling of accomplishment, new encounters or discovered locations. You’ll deserve a high-five of your own, and hopefully feel the weight lifted.

If you have become unstuck on your own, please feel free to share the way you did it. What tactic do you regularly use to keep yourself fluid with picture taking? Share your comments or ideas below so we can learn from you, too. (R)

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