7 Exercises to Stimulate Your Creativity


7 Exercises to Stimulate Your Creativity

Do you ever just feel like you are just not ‘seeing it’? While you search far and wide for great shots you’re not finding them and your creativity feels a little off-kilter.

This happens from time to time to all photographers and it has happened to me more than a few times.

And while there is not magic switch to flip and suddenly become creative, there are a few exercises that just might help you feel more creative and make finding or creating the shots a little easier.

Here are some ideas:

  • Return to a place you have photographed many times. In fact, choose a place you have photographed enough that you don’t feel there are anymore ‘shots to get.’ The process of forcing yourself to find a shot in a location you have worked stimulates your creativity by looking at the location in a different way.  If you do assignments this process may be one you have encountered: a location that has little going on visually to stimulate your creative juices, yet you have a client expecting a miracle.
  • Take a walk, hike, or even a run! Go where you would not normally shoot with that pack full of gear. We all know exercise stimulates brain activity and subsequently, creativity. The very processes of not feeling like you have to find the shot reduces pressure and this helps the creative mind. However, if you fear going anywhere outdoors without a camera, take your digital point and shoot just in case. Keep a journal. Some ideas will come when you are not behind the camera or in front of the computer, so keep something to write on wherever you are. Day dream and allow your mind to generate ideas and then write them all down. This process can be very productive in generating ideas for images.
  • A lot of nature photographers ‘fly solo’ and practice their craft alone. But if you are feeling like your creativity is running on empty break away and spend time with others, both photographers and non-photographers. For most people, this might be the most inspirational way to stimulate the creative process because others bring ideas, new perspectives, and experiences that will put your creative thinking in overdrive.

    Forest Floor
  • Be spontaneous. If you look outside and think the weather is just not right for your preconceived notion of the perfect day for shooting, grab your gear and go. The idea that less than desirable conditions exist might present a subject or scene in a manner you never expected. And since your expectations might be low, everything is a surprise allowing your creativity to flourish.
  • Quit photography! That’s right, quit, stop, and put the camera away. But only for a short period! The absence of your camera in your hand and ceasing to think about photography only increases your desire to photograph which results in more productive and creative time when you get back to planning a shoot or actually shooting. This may not be so hard to do if you have family and other personal obligations, but if you are a full time workaholic pro, the need to take a break may have to be scheduled.
  • Put yourself to a test and take one camera and one lens (and tripod) and force yourself to make magic with a basic setup. In fact, go further and use only one focal length like a 50 mm. Force yourself to stick to it and work your scenes until you have a pleasing composition that works with these self-imposed limitations. This is a technique that has been employed from time to time by noted workshop instructors, to force the student to see with only the basic tools.



While it is not uncommon to get stuck creatively speaking, we all deal with it in various ways. The aforementioned exercise might work for you by opening your mind and your senses and allow you to think and subsequently see what is in front of you in a new and different way.

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