Here is something that probably most of us have experienced at one time or another — maybe even more often than not. When you go somewhere to take photographs, the inspiration doesn’t always strike immediately. Sometimes you might go into the field and find yourself photographing within minutes. But other times? Maybe it takes an hour or even longer before you see something that makes you lift the viewfinder to your eye.
It’s all part of our mindset. Something has to shift in our thoughts, feelings and general mood before creativity can happen. It happens to writers and musicians, too. Creatives of all kinds find themselves staring at blank screens, willing the words to come, or playing notes that just keep falling flat and lifeless. Sometimes, it just takes time for us to activate our creative sides.
So what do you do when that happens? The immediate temptation is to get frustrated. We all have limited time, so when we do get the chance to go out and take photos or pursue some other creative endeavor, we naturally want to get to the business of creating as quickly as possible.
But it’s of the utmost importance to be patient with yourself when this happens. Don’t try to force it — that can only lead to frustration as you take photograph after photograph that just doesn’t feel quite right. However long it takes, let yourself immerse until the inspiration starts to flow. If it helps, count it as part of the creative process. This is something that happens to all of us, and the time spent immersed in our surroundings, becoming inspired by them, is not wasted time. In fact, I’d say it’s valuable time we can be using to learn more about what is in front of us. In the end, we need that time to get into the swing of things.
Avoid frustration and impatience, and don’t let yourself get discouraged, either. It really does take the right mood, the right feelings, to create art. Practicing creative exercises can help creativity come a little easier, just like exercising gives your body more strength and endurance. But you’ll still have those times when it just takes time for creativity to activate. To become discouraged as you wait is to alter your emotional landscape — and those altered emotions will reflect back at you in the images you create by way of subtle changes to composition, lighting, colors and so forth. So, allowing discouragement to get you down will only set you back. The best thing you can do is just go with it. Take that time to learn and to think critically about your surroundings. Ask yourself experimental questions like, “What would happen if I photographed this object from my current vantage versus a higher one?” These are things that will help you get familiar with and comfortable in your surroundings, and they’ll help the time go by as you search for information. When creativity comes, you’ll be ready for it!