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Photographer's block
Old 05-08-2019   #1
olifaunt
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Photographer's block

I have been unable to finish a roll of film for the past two months. Weather has admittedly been bad, but even on good days I can go on long walks and not take a single picture. It just seems like everything here in Ye Olde New England is a cliché, and Spring is especially bad in this regard. Also, with experience I have seen what kinds of pictures don't work, which really is most pictures, so I have been erring on the side of not even taking them any more.

Has anyone been in this situation and been able to snap out of it? What helps? I'm too broke to travel.
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Old 05-08-2019   #2
mpaniagua
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Yeah, it happens all the time Look for public events, specially about expositions (like old cars and the like) or for craft. Also, try using your cliched subjects and try using a different perspective. Like looking for trees or flowers and the like that would look different when looking at them upward or downward. Try photographic those subjects at night or dawn.



My city is quite plain (no much art or history involved) so I normally struggle to find good subjects but most of the times those subjects are everyday ones looked on a different perceptive. Also I'm not that good with people portrait (aside from my friends and family) so most of my subjects are landscape (both urban and rural).


Sorry for my rant. Wish you help with getting out of the block.

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Old 05-08-2019   #3
Ko.Fe.
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I only travel if employer send me.
For the rest i"m stuck in Miton.
I don't drive, I walk. Streets without people. Empty parks, sold for builders fields.
The only bad weather I know is rain. Here is no bad weather for photography, but for the front glass of the lens.
If i"m not walking and practice, it doesn't get better.
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Old 05-08-2019   #4
aizan
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Some of my favorite photobooks are set in New England. Have you looked at these?

Paul Strand - Time in New England
Richard Renaldi - Fall River Boys
Mitch Epstein - Family Business
Eugene Richards - Dorchester Days

I'm sure there are lots of photographers doing interesting work in New England. I'd google for LibGuides on photography from the colleges and universities in each state, especially art and design schools like RISD and MCAD, or Williams or Yale (which has a great MFA in photography).
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Old 05-08-2019   #5
peterm1
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I think we all get the "block" occasionally. It's hard to overcome if you can't travel for financial or other reasons as even a short trip to another locale provides new inspiration, I find. But like you if this is not on the cards I will often not even take my camera out of my bag if I do not feel suitably inspired.

I try a couple of things. The first is to go back over my old photos as I will often find new inspiration in images I previously overlooked. Being digital I can then post process these (often my skills have improved since when the images were made so I can make better use of them). I find this helps reinvigorate my interest as it at least allows me to post some images that I had not bothered with before. And it gives me ideas for new images to make.

The other thing that really helps though is to sit down with Flickr (or whatever image store you use online) and identify photographers you wish to follow or specific images you like. This provides a model to emulate and you can then look for opportunities to make images in a similar style. I have been doing this a bit lately and find it helps a lot as it gives me ideas I would not otherwise have had. I have favorited these in Flickr and it has given me some useful ideas on photos to take bearing in mind these are images I like and yours may be entirely different. https://www.flickr.com/photos/life_in_shadows/favorites

The thing others have recommended is to go out on photo shoots with specific projects in mind (e.g looking for quite specific subject types and only shooting those) or taking one lens - perhaps a lens you use less often and look for opportunities to widen your repertoire this way. I do not much do the former (I prefer shooting "targets of opportunity") but I often go out with a specific lens and make myself use it.

Another thing that helps now and then is to get out on a photo shoot with a like minded photographer to see if that sparks new ideas.

Its tough though.
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Old 05-08-2019   #6
Chriscrawfordphoto
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You don't have to photograph every day. I sometimes go weeks without doing any photos. I am working on several long term projects, and it takes a long time to edit and catalogue me work. Right now I have about 500 photos waiting for editing, so sometimes I work on that instead of shooting.


Plus I have other things going on. I do graphic design and web design work, too and there are times when I have a lot of work come in through that business. I have spent the last two weeks building websites; I make a lot of money from that work, though it is not as fun as photography, and it helps make it possible for me to keep going during periods of slow print sales.
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Old 05-08-2019   #7
Rob-F
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When writers get writer's block, sometimes they are advised to write about having writer's block. I wonder: Might it be possible to photograph about having photographer's block?
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Old 05-08-2019   #8
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I took 10 years off from photography when I felt like you... and then came back refreshed and in love with photography more than ever. It’s been another 11 years now without any block. But as Chris says, you don’t need to photograph all the time. Take a break. Go to the museum. Try a different camera. Try a different genre. Make a book.
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Old 05-08-2019   #9
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Try a lens of a focal length that you would not normally use, this might help you see things differently. This usually helps me get out of the doldrums.
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Old 05-09-2019   #10
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You could try buying a cheap example of a type of camera you've never used before, the more different to those you have the better, and see if you can get a decent pic or two out of it. Doesn't matter what you photograph, just so long as the quality of the results are pleasing to you.

This has worked for me. I've never used a box camera before, and even though I've not yet used mine, I'm thinking of pics I could take that would be different to the ones I produce using my nikon f301. I also had never used cameras that needed the shutter tensioning separately before and now I'm quite good at remembering to do that with my super solinette and super regent. Then of course there's the different formats that I now have, 35mm, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9 and 110. Slightly different methods of use and different things to think about.

If you do get an extra camera or two, try using them on the same subject, their differences may need new approaches etc.
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Old 05-09-2019   #11
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Dont buy any new gear. Come up with a project utilizing your surroundings. introduce an element of conflict. You can use a prop. Spice it up.
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Old 05-09-2019   #12
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I feel for you, olifaunt. My photography goes through periods as well. Most recently my wife and I have been suffering through the prolonged death of her sister and that's kinda knocked my enthusiasm for anything on it's butt. But, as they say, this too shall pass.

It might just be that you need a break. If that's the case, you'll know when it's time to pick up the camera again. I've gone for months without taking a picture. I went for several years only taking pictures when going on vacation and then tossing them all out because they looked like everyone else's vacation pictures. In the end, the desire...the need to photograph returned. You'll know.
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Old 05-09-2019   #13
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Realize that your shooting film so each frame costs money. but maybe try something abstract like moving your camera to produce soft/pictorialism or maybe just try shooting the kind of stuff you've never thought of shooting before/find boring. For myself the very effort of trying to create a good photograph from something boring/everyday can be very enjoyable, Since your shooting film maybe just shoot a single frame of each subject like William Eggleston does.
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Old 05-09-2019   #14
Jamie123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olifaunt View Post
Has anyone been in this situation and been able to snap out of it? What helps? I'm too broke to travel.
Do you only shoot 35mm or do you also use other formats? Try switching formats if that's an option for you.
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Old 05-09-2019   #15
Keith
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I think it's more to do with lack of passion than block ... though I guess you can say that it's the lack of that passion that causes the block in the first place.

You need to stimulate your senses by using your eyes and forget about the camera ... not everything has to be photographed!
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Old 05-09-2019   #16
Steve M.
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I think a lot of it is weather related, but maybe you just need a break?

Trying out a new film/camera/lens/developer can get the juices going too. I've learned to let go of worrying about it when it happens. There's days when I go out w/ a camera and a sketch pad and come back having used neither. Happens all the time, or some times I do several sketches and take a lot of pics. You just never know.

I'm actually getting back into a creative time, so to spur it along all my good sketches are out, there's watercoulor paper taped to the table, and the paints and brushes are out, so it's inconvenient and difficult to eat at the table or get around in my apt unless I deal w/ the art stuff that's out everywhere. It works. Last night I completed a small painting and have another one going tonite. If I had to hunt around and put all the materials together it might not happen at all. Try putting yourself into a position where it's easier to finish the roll in your camera than not. Or don't leave your house w/o the camera. Or just roll up the film in that camera and start a new roll.
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Old 05-09-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
Some of my favorite photobooks are set in New England. Have you looked at these?

Paul Strand - Time in New England
Richard Renaldi - Fall River Boys
Mitch Epstein - Family Business
Eugene Richards - Dorchester Days

I'm sure there are lots of photographers doing interesting work in New England. I'd google for LibGuides on photography from the colleges and universities in each state, especially art and design schools like RISD and MCAD, or Williams or Yale (which has a great MFA in photography).
I love these. I grew up on the coast of Connecticut and spent a lot of time on Maine and Cape Cod coastline, and all over New England; this is home turf and will always tweak my heartstrings (especially after 20 years away). I'll add two of my favorites:

George Tice - Seacoast Maine
Joel Meyerowitz - Cape Light
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Old 05-09-2019   #18
farlymac
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You could try to photograph things that don't necessarily let anyone know that it's New England.


Just walk out the door with your camera, stop at the sidewalk, and look down at your feet. Get down low. Maybe change the time of day you start your walk, so the lighting is completely different than what you're used to.


Or walk out the door without your camera, and then look at all the things you could have taken photos of.



Of course, you could not even go out of the house, just hang around your abode, and see what shadows play across the room.


There is always something to take a photo of. It just might not be quite outstanding as you wish.


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Old 05-09-2019   #19
rfaspen
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I'm in that "block" space now. I know it will pass though, it always does.


I find that advice to photograph with your eyes while you move through the world to be good, productive, advice. I always find some inspiration just being able to see a good photo, even if I don't actually photograph it. And, the things I see become part of my "background" when I do start shooting again. Helps direct my focus and subjects, etc.


Bottom line. Don't stress. Just enjoy being able to "see" and do that. Shooting will come along in time.
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Old 05-09-2019   #20
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I usually photograph two-three times a year - when on holidays. Everyday life takes priority, two small children and full time job means there is no time for it. I also don't take many pictures in the town where I live, everything seems so familiar so I tend to miss good photographs.
I learned to wait. If I manage to get my camera with me and grab a shot I call it good news. It usually takes me months to finish a roll.
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Old 05-10-2019   #21
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Mothball the camera until you feel the urge to take it out again.
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Old 05-10-2019   #22
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Something that works for me is what is suggested in "Finely focused" (really worth a few dollars!): "prime the pump"


Most of the time, when walking looking for photographs, I'll try to make an image in the first 5 or 10 minutes, whatever is in front of me. Most of the time it's not the best shot, but it gets me going.
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Old 05-10-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
When writers get writer's block, sometimes they are advised to write about having writer's block. I wonder: Might it be possible to photograph about having photographer's block?
This is not advice I would give another writer! (That's my trade.) But I've had photographer's block for the better part of a year—I don't even own a camera right now—and I'm thinking I'll eventually do what works for my writing, which is to give myself prompts...limiting exercises. Force myself to do something I wouldn't ordinarily do. You know, 25 pictures with only one thing in them. 25 pictures of the backs of things. 25 pictures taken while lying on the ground. 25 pictures with red in them. etc etc

I'm not sure of any source for these, though I could probably make some more up. I wish there were an Oblique Strategies for photographers. Maybe Oblique Strategies itself would work for photographers, actually.
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Old 05-10-2019   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Wijninga View Post
Mothball the camera until you feel the urge to take it out again.
Agreed.













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Old 05-10-2019   #25
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Follow the light...
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