Coping with Photographers Block

by | Aug 13, 2020

Today’s Post by Todd Abbotts with photography by Joe Farace

If you pursue any creative process long enough you’ll most inevitably experience a “block”. Writers, painters, graphic designers, photographers; all creatives can fall prey to this swirling black hole that eats your fresh ideas and new material. Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, likely quit writing novels altogether from a prolonged bout of the malady. On a personal note, I’ve just emerged from my own fight with this dragon, and thought it worthwhile to share some of the tools I used to re-ignite the creative flame.

Caption: Car photographs don’t have to be horizontal! Not many people even know what a TVR is, so it’s always a pleasure to find these unusual cars and make a photo of them. This Vixen was photographed before the show started. (Having your own car as an entry is one way to get early admittance.) Camera was an EOS 1D Mark II and exposure was 1/200 sec at f/7.1 at ISO 200. Lens was an EF-IS 28-135mm at 109mm.

It’s only kinky the first time. In other words, try something new with your camera. If you normally shoot landscapes, grab a family member or friend and try a portraiture session. To address my photographic dry-spell I began shooting at night; moonscapes, street scenes, night sky, etc. It took me out of my comfort zone, and forced me to reevaluate the basics of making quality images.

Turn the lens inward, because life happens and sometimes it’s messy. Nothing dampens my creative energy like one of life’s emotional stressors. Work issues, relationship drama, financial strain – all can hold your mind hostage to the current crisis, while stealing motivation to create. Ironically, immersing ourselves in our creative passions can often free us to discover potential resolutions to the stress. For me, just being aware of the distraction can lessen its impact on my photography.

Lastly, explore the work of others. For photographers, it’s never been easier to immerse ourselves in the creations of our peers. All it takes is a smart phone and an app to start using Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, etc. Virtual treasure troves of inspiration and creative challenges. Of course, museums, art classes and galleries, while ‘old school’, are every bit as effective if not as convenient.


You can follow Todd on Instagram at @abbottsimaging. I’m excited to see what you create!