Stuck in a rut as a street photographer? These seven tips will get you shooting again

Apr 2, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Stuck in a rut as a street photographer? These seven tips will get you shooting again

Apr 2, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Hitting a wall is a natural part of the creative process. If you’ve been into photography for a while, I’m sure you’ve been stuck in a creative rut at least once. In his recent video, Jeff Ascough shares seven practical tips to overcome a slump. He focuses on street photography, but his tips are useful for every photographer, no matter your preferred genre.

YouTube video

Change your gear

Jeff suggests shaking things up by changing your camera or lens to break out of your autopilot mode. Shooting with a new system, or just a lens you don’t normally use, forces you to learn new ways of handling exposure, focusing, and composition. It’s like giving your brain a new puzzle to solve, making you more aware of your surroundings and the creative possibilities.

For example, switching from a familiar 35mm lens to a telephoto lens will compress the background, isolating your subject and creating a more intimate feel. On the other hand, a wide-angle lens will force you to get closer to the action, capturing a broader scene and the energy of the street. Even a prime lens (fixed focal length) can be a good option, forcing you to rely on your feet for framing rather than zooming, leading to a more thoughtful approach to composition.

Change your environment

Next, Jeff suggests breaking free from your usual stomping grounds and exploring the unfamiliar. You can visit a new city, or even just a different neighborhood in your town place of living. Shooting in unfamiliar territory is like giving yourself a photography reset. Without the crutch of well-worn routines, you’ll be forced to be more observant, noticing the unique details and quirks of the new environment. This fresh perspective can lead to exciting new compositions you might have otherwise overlooked.

Try shooting at different times of the day. The golden hour is great for warm light and colors, but night photography offers a magical atmosphere. Midday photography can also be an opportunity to get creative with harsh shadows and bright light. Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to unexpected and captivating images.

Shoot with others

Sometimes, a fresh perspective and input from other creatives are all you need. Consider joining a photography workshop or club. Or, even simpler: bring along a photographer friend with a different shooting style and approach. Sharing ideas and experiences can reignite your passion in no time.

Projects

Self-directed projects are a great way to add purpose and focus to your street photography. Choose a theme that sparks your curiosity and ignites your passion, such as a specific location, community, or recurring event. Having a clear goal for your project will keep you motivated and engaged, and can lead to a cohesive body of work that tells a story beyond isolated street photographs.

Try something new

Just like you can try new gear or a new location, Jeff also suggests trying new techniques. For example, if you always shoot black and white, try color for a while. Experiment with different shooting techniques, like shooting from the hip or using a film camera. The challenge of stepping out of a comfort zone and learning something new can spark creativity.

Books and exhibitions

Sometimes the best way to reignite your own creative spark is to immerse yourself in the work of others. Photography books and exhibitions will help you on this path. Let yourself be inspired by photographers who use different styles and approaches, pushing the boundaries of what street photography can be.

Here’s why this is so effective:

  • Fresh perspective: Seeing the world through another photographer’s lens can open your eyes to new possibilities. You might discover a way of composing a scene you hadn’t considered before or a new way of using light and shadow to tell a story.
  • Motivation to create: Surrounding yourself with inspiring work can be a powerful motivator. Looking at photographs that evoke emotion, capture a moment perfectly, or tell a compelling story can light a fire under you to get out there and create your own unique images.
  • Learning techniques and approaches: Many photography books delve into the creative process of the photographer. By reading about their thought process, lighting techniques, or project ideas, you can gain valuable insights that you can apply to your own street photography.

Lose your audience

Social media is a double-edged sword for street photographers. It’s great for sharing work and connecting, but the pressure for likes and shares can be a creativity killer. Jeff cautions against chasing trends for online validation. This focus on external approval can lead you to copy popular styles instead of expressing your own unique voice.

Regaining control and rekindling creativity is key. Take breaks from social media, or dedicate specific times for sharing. Focus on creating photos that are true to you, not what gets the most clicks. Street photography is about personal expression. Capture what ignites your passion, document the world from your perspective, and tell the stories that resonate with you. By prioritizing your own vision, you’ll create a body of work that’s authentic and truly yours.

I’ve used all of these tips throughout my years of being in photography. And like I said, they really work for all genres, no matter if you’re into street photography or something else. If you’re currently in a creative rut, I’m sure they’ll be helpful. And if you have some extra tips to share with others – drop them in the comment section; I’m sure fellow photographers will appreciate them!

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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