Embrace Your Obstacles In Photography

Revisiting your former creative blocks can help you grow as a photographer and learn to see opportunities instead of impediments

An exercise that I often do when I find myself in a creative funk is to review all of the photos that I’ve worked on and shared in one form or another, starting with the oldest. Many times, I’ll pick up on a theme or evolutionary change that invariably sparks my creativity and gets me out of that funk. One revelation I had during such an exercise was how far I’ve come with appreciating obstacles in my frame.

The photographer I was a decade ago would look at scenes like these and immediately walk right by them. “There are too many damn trees in the way!” is something that I’d likely bark to myself. I suppose that’s a natural progression of growth for me. I usually start with something laid out in a clear, sensical way and work on that until a visual jump occurs.

I don’t think there is a particular amount of time that has to elapse, or a certain number of photos that have to be taken, before your outlook on such things change, but I am sure that a change does occur. It affects the way I see things now. What used to be obstacles and chaos now resembles more of a narrative—you just have to arrange it in the right sequence.

It’s also really refreshing to begin seeing in this new way because it opens up an entirely different area of opportunity to create unique photos in locations that I have visited frequently. I’m not trying to say that you have to ostensibly accept obstacles just because it illustrates my own growth, but there is an underlying theme of being able to identify what those obstacles mean to you. Your obstacles can be wholly different than mine and they can be more figurative than my very literal ones. The general key is to see whether you can translate them into something creative.


See more of Brian Matiash’s work at matiash.com.