Tuesday, January 1, 2008


When a creative slump happens, change your visual diet

Photo Adventure: Burnout
Skier Scott Miller in the Canadian Rockies

Layer MasksThis Article Features Photo Zoom

All of us have those moments in photography where we face a creative block. The subject matter that we love and have always found interesting to shoot now suddenly seems boring and uninspiring. For both the working pro as well as the weekend warrior, you can’t risk having these dry spells.

Everyone has a different way to deal with a creative block. The method I’ve found to work best is to shoot a self-assignment, but spice things up by inviting a few photographer friends, call in some models or choose a stellar location for a road trip. I call this gathering a Photo Circus, and participating photographers are the photo geeks. It‚’s an intense week of shooting with friends who share a serious love for making photos.

The creative slump happens. Most of this is to blame on a photographer’s photo diet. When you tend to shoot on the go, pushing yourself and moving from shoot to shoot, you quickly find yourself in a creative rut. When you work too many hours and weeks pushing yourself 110 percent, your nerves fry and you find yourself emotionally spent. We call this burnout.

When you’re burned out, there’s no way you can make a photo, much less plan a shoot. It seems the time demands to shoot and digitally edit photos have outstripped the ability to get the work done in the normal 24/7 time frame in which we usually work. This phenomenon isn’t new. In the 1940s, Ansel Adams complained that he spent too much time in the darkroom and not enough time in the field shooting—and he still didn’t have enough time to process all his images.

Bill Hatcher travels the world in search of adventure and good stories. A regular contributor to
National Geographic and Outside, his images have appeared on the cover of 40 magazines. Visit his Website at


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