Breaking Out of a Photography Funk

Breaking Out of a Photography Funk

Broken Camera


In this article, we’ll explore breaking out of a photography funk. It’s happened to all of us. We no longer feel like getting the camera gear out. Or we can’t be bothered packing a camera bag and heading out. There’s nothing worse than discovering that you’re in a photography funk. Creative funks come in many forms and sap us of motivation, inspiration, determination, and the drive to get out and about with a camera. 


Black and White Photographer


How To Identify You’re In A Rut


Sometimes, we don’t realise we’ve fallen into a photography rut. Days, weeks, and months pass and we suddenly realise that we haven’t picked up a camera for some time. Alternatively, we know we’re in a rut as we want to get out but can’t muster the energy or creativity. Every artistic pursuit has its fair share of ups and downs - photography is no exception. We feel delighted, inspired, and proud of a tack-sharp image of a hawk in flight. The flip side is feeling discouraged, moody, and downright funky, staring at our dust-covered camera.



Tips To Getting Out Of A Funk


In most cases, photography funks require action to improve the situation. I’ve had several photography funks over the years - some have lasted a few weeks, and others have spanned several months. Typically, my big creative ruts occur after I’ve returned from a photography trip to Japan. 


Give A New Genre A Go


If you’re a landscape, wildlife, or bird photographer, chances are you know a lot about your chosen genre. You know the best locations, gear, and camera settings to capture a fantastic photo. But what happens when you get into a creative or motivational rut? Chances are, you rarely consider changing to an entirely new genre. A change is exactly what’s called for to drag you out that door with your camera in hand.



Why not try astrophotography and put that wide, fast prime through its paces? Challenge yourself to stop chasing wildlife and instead hunt for insects. Shoot pet portraits, food, plants, flowers, or a kid's party. Taking on a new genre may be the ticket to stirring that creative brain to wakefulness. Changing genres has the added benefit of teaching you new skills. Those skills may just elevate your capabilities and output in your preferred genre. 


Work With A New Lens Or Focal Distance


While acquiring new photography gear is costly, it can give you a fresh perspective on your craft. Not all new gear needs to be bought from the top shelf in the camera store. Working with a cheap second-hand lens is a liberating experience and teaches you much about your skills. Alternatively, rent, loan, or borrow a lens to try out a different genre or to tackle your genre without the super-telephoto 800mm on hand. Alternatively, meet up with a photography friend with the same lens mount as you. Plan to swap lenses for the day and challenge each other to capture new styles of images. 



Meet Up With A Community Of Photographers


Consider joining a local photography community. Or, if you’re already a community member, organise a meetup. Sometimes, having others around is an excellent balm to photography funk. For one, those around you have all had their highs and lows with the craft. Talk with others to seek their input, ideas, and support. Also, being out and about seeing others take photos may inspire you to lift your camera and see what they see. 



Try Film Photography


Some of you may have dabbled with film photography in the past. And many of you are probably still shooting film. Regardless, you should give simple film photography a go. You don’t have to go out and buy a new camera system. Why not buy a few disposable film cameras or an affordable instant film camera? It may sound silly to some of you seasoned photographers. However, consider the learning opportunity of working with such rudimentary photography gear.




Take Less With You


One of my favourite pieces of advice is to head out the door only with what you can hold in your hand. Sometimes, sorting through your gear and packing a bag is daunting when in a rut. I recommend heading out only with a camera and single lens. A spare battery in your pocket is acceptable. Don’t pack a second body, don’t grab the tripod, and don’t burden yourself with a bag full of glass. 


Photographer with Leather Camera Strap in Tokyo


Avoid distractions such as what lens, filter, or flash to pack. Ditch all of that and work with a single camera and lens. Making the most of what you have enables you to be creative, adventurous, and mindful about making the shot work. It’s liberating, and you’ll focus more on the simple joy of photography. If working without a camera bag, be sure to fit a sturdy wrist strap or a comfortable neck/shoulder strap. Be comfortable, secure, and joyous.


Final Thoughts


The key to breaking out of a photography funk is to have faith that the drive, passion, and desire will return. Every creative person faces this challenge. However, rather than wait around for the funk to pass, take steps to change your creative process. You will break that funk and learn a few things about yourself along the way. 


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