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Overcoming Creative Blocks and Criticism in Photography

As a photographer, if your work has not been well received by a client or you’ve read a negative comment on your social media page about your photography, then it can cause a great deal of doubt and negativity in your confidence. Firstly, remember this one universal truth…

YOU WILL MESS UP at some point, and when you do…

DO NOT put your camera down.

How to Overcome Creative Blocks as Photographers by iPhotography.com

How to Take Criticism

Endeavour to see any criticism, no matter how harsh it seems, as a challenge to prove people wrong, do not let one ill-informed remark cripple you. Look at great achievers in Science, Politics and Sport, they probably were all criticized and failed at points in their career, but their name and work will live on in history, because of their will to succeed and overcome obstacles.

Don’t Let Pride Kill Your Photography

But it’s not just negative comments coming from others that can demotivate you, photographers are very proud creatures, and we can be our own worst enemy, which is sometimes the hardest type of criticism to deal with.

When reviewing your images, if you don’t like the colours, sharpness or composition, then the immediate reaction is to delete it, but before you do, write down what you don’t like about the image to build up a list of obstacles to overcome next time you take your camera out.

Comparing your work against more experienced photographers, is another way see your images in a negative light. It’s best to look upon these versions as inspiration as to how to improve.

It’s unfair on yourself to expect the same quality of work as a 30-year veteran if you’ve only just taken your first steps.

How to Overcome Creative Blocks as Photographers by iPhotography.com

What is Constructive Criticism?

Negativity can turn photographers into recluses, but it’s important not to hide from the photographic community completely. Sometimes criticism is well intended but our personal pride interprets it differently. It’s important to learn that not all feedback is negative, we must accept that there could be faults in our work, and by taking on board the reviews, you can progress quicker.

The less you listen, the less you progress. Only you are stopping yourself.

You should see constructive criticism as a positive thing, think about the fact that your photograph motivated someone enough to offer their thoughts – if it was terrible, surely they wouldn’t waste their time? It obviously had a good base for someone to suggest some improvements.

How to Overcome Creative Blocks as Photographers by iPhotography.com

How to Overcome a Creative Block

Every single artist, no matter their genre of art will experience a ‘creative block’ at many points in their career, but it’s how they get out of it quickly is what we’re interested in.

If you’ve had your camera in a drawer for a few months and forgot about it, then you’re going to need a large injection of desire to dust off that stagnation and get snapping again.

It’s impossible to say, what is going to inspire you and when it’s going to happen, so the best advice we can offer is to take your camera with you wherever you go. Whether it’s just to do the grocery shopping or on the morning commute, then throw your camera in your handbag or backpack in case you spot something you want to remember.

Even here at iPhotography, some of our Tutors bring their cameras with them to work, just in case they have a moment of inspiration!

But sometimes you have to reprogram your mind to see things in a creative manner when it’s been dormant for a while.

Therefore I’ve put together a few tips and tricks that we’ve personally found are great ways to get those creative juices flowing when you’re looking down at your camera and feeling uninspired.

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6 Ways for Photographers to Stop a Creative Block

1. Portrait Expressions

If you have a subject to work with, think of 3 words to describe that person. Use this words to create visuals in your mind of what ‘funny, charming, scary, polite, quiet or shy’ might look like.

2. Creative Angles

Don’t assume the same angle all the time. Revisit landmarks or buildings that you may have photographed before, but ban yourself from the tripod and force yourself to look for new angles.

3. Adds Props to your Photography

Add one prop that you wouldn’t normally use. Drive yourself to use an unusual item in a shot that wouldn’t normally be associated with the subject. Choose an item at random and see how you can incorporate it into a portrait or landscape scene.

How to Overcome Creative Blocks as Photographers by iPhotography.com

4. One Colour Photography Game

Pick a colour theme. Grab your camera and shoot as many frames as you can featuring only one colour in your scene. No other colours are allowed apart from this one. (This is actually a fun game!)

5. Go On a Photography Road Trip

Go to a new location. If you normally shoot indoors (or at home) all the time then this is a great tip – get outdoors and use natural light and your surroundings to push you out of your comfort zone. Close your eyes and pick out a place on the map and see where you end up!

6. Join a Photography Club

And there’s no better place to start than iPhotography. With over 110,000 photography members, then it’s an ideal community to be involved in.

You can upload your photographs to the iPhotography feedback gallery and get genuine feedback every day from other members and the Tutor team of professional photographers. It’s a perfect location to re-lite that creative flame inside you without being made to feel like a newbie (even if you are!).

There’s always a chance that you may win the prestigious Weekend Challenge, where your photograph features on the dashboard of the website and all across our social media.

How to Overcome Creative Blocks as Photographers by iPhotography.com

Creative Blocks in Photography: Final Words

Well, hopefully, you are feeling a lot more motivated and inspired if you weren’t already.

I am are going to leave you with one final thought on this topic, using the very poignant words of Vincent Van Gogh;

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”


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