Getting out the Door

March 3, 2010 · 2 comments

5-124-28  stock photo of California, Missions, Gate to cemetery, La Purisima Mission

Sometime the most difficult part of photography is getting out of the front door. All sorts of events conspire against you. Once you get started, creativity can come easily, but it is that first step that is often the tough one. Here are a couple of suggestions of how to jump-start your photographic day and get moving.

Go anywhere

Sometimes we get hung up on waiting for the perfect project, or the best day, or for inspiration to strike, waiting for our Muse. These are all understandable, perfectly rational…. excuses. We can wait forever. When I am stuck like that, sometimes I just walk out the door with my camera, get in the car, and drive. If you don’t know where to go, go anywhere, anywhere at all. What you find there will lead you to the next place, and the next. Sometimes you remember an old location or subject you’ve forgotten about. Or some new and unanticipated situation presents itself. When you step out, then new photographic opportunities have a way of appearing.

Go, even if you don’t feel like it

“Honey, I’m not in the mood.” Another good excuse for not photographing, and this too can be a block. When I am discouraged or depressed and don’t feel like making the effort, simply getting out the door gets me out of that sorry state and engaged with something interesting, something on the other side of the lens. Invariably, getting absorbed with a photographic subject can be the best therapy. The photography leads to feeling better, and not vice-versa.

Change your style, your subject, your equipment

Sometimes being bored can be what is holding you back. If you have shot one too many landscapes, then mix it up. Try playing with portraiture. Or if sports is losing its thrill, try macro. Heavy equipment? try your iPhone. Stills? Try motion. Shifting to a new and unfamiliar context can be just the challenge needed to get excited again. It can even lead to a new appreciation of your current specialty if you return to it.

Let go of expectations

Stock photographers can be subject to a peculiar affliction : thinking that every photo must be highly marketable, well-seen, able to impress editors and photo buyers, and generate a good return. Forget it. Aside from being quite unrealistic, such an attitude is really unfair. We wouldn’t expect that of our kids. So make a decision that there is no need to get even one usable image. Give yourself permission. This will free your creative spirit to explore, play and risk new ways of seeing

Just Do It

It’s too bad Nike got this slogan – we all can use it. Thinking about photography, thinking about going out to photograph, thinking about all the reasons why and why not and where and when and what for, really doesn’t help. The way to get out the door is to pick up the camera bag, grab the door handle, open the door… and Just Do It.


If you have your own favorite ways of getting unstuck, or stories to tell about how the process works for you, please add them in the comments. I’ll collate the most helpful ones into another post.

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