Taking photos is hard, but taking photos that you actually enjoy and think will be worth sharing, is that much harder. There’s something about finding the creative work that you endeavor to make, exactly that, creative. When you’re taking a photo of a concept, subject, or an idea you’re essentially taking something that’s already been said and finding a new way to say it. That’s really hard to do. Creatively speaking, you’re essentially recreating the wheel and that’s why it’s hard to look at the work that you’ve done and feel satisfied with the final result.
With that being said, there’s some things that you can do to help recreate a way of saying something that’s already been said:
1. Mimic established concepts
This one seems a little weird to do, after all, I just finished talking about how being creative is about taking something and finding a new way of saying it. This essentially the exact opposite of that, but that’s also why it’s important, too. When you’re working on recreating a concept and expressing it differently, you want to have a fundamental understanding of what you’re originally working with. In doing so, you’re able to think about the subject and idea that you’re working with from more angles.
Think of it this way, it’s essentially like taking apart a computer. Finding convenient ways to assemble all the parts and manage the cables isn’t something that comes initially. At least for me, it didn’t, it took putting it together normally at first. By seeing how everything fits the way that it should, I could then think how I can add onto that, essentially adding my own flare. Which is something that you’re trying to achieve with recreating old concepts. Which in turn, helps you to think that much more creatively, too.
2. Look back at older photos
I personally believe that a block in artistic expression is simply trying to funnel old methods of creation into new ways of thinking. It doesn’t work because like a lock and key model, the two pieces fundamentally do not match with each other. So, when you try to take new types of photos, approaching them the same way that you approached previous photos can lead to frustration. With that being said, what about older photos that you took, and kept, that you didn’t feel satisfied with at the time?
Looking back on those older photos, that you thought weren’t good for much, can be eye-opening. For me, personally, I know that I take a couple of months to appreciate an old photo that I took and really see something that I can expand upon. And that realization would not have happened if I didn’t feel dissatisfied with what I was currently doing. Which is important, striving to improve with what you’re currently working on is fine, but taking a step back and seeing that maybe you were doing something right before is also important, too. Which brings me to my next point:
3. Express yourself through a different medium
As I mentioned before, creative expression is something that’s ever-changing and doesn’t always fit the medium you’re funneling it through. With that being said, sometimes the emotion that you’re trying to convey isn’t something that can be easily conveyed through a photo. You may need to write it out, paint it, draw it, etc. And that’s fine, because ultimately it helps you gain a better understanding of the emotion that you’re trying to express. Remember that as an artist, you’re not limited to one medium of expression. Photos can be both complimentary and supplementary to the original idea you’re trying to convey.
Photography isn’t mean to feel like a struggle, and sometimes ideas that you think will function through a photo, don’t. And that’s okay, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about that. Instead, you can take that idea that you have, expand on it through another medium, and find a photo idea that can add value to the original concept that you’re working on. Thereby making the end result of your endeavors multifaceted and rich in expression. Which, as an artist and photographer, is ultimately your goal; to make something that conveys your feelings to another in such a way that’s moving.
Approaching things creatively is a hard thing to do, and it’s no wonder that many photographers and artists can feel stuck. The most important thing to remember, though, is to be patient with yourself. Taking subjects and making emotionally moving pieces of work isn’t something that you can force into reality. You want it to feel genuine, and a genuine emotion or idea takes time to nurture and fully realize. So, the very best thing you can do is to ponder on it more, sleep on it, but don’t rush it either. There is no urgency to something that’s beautiful, because after it’s finished, everyone will have all the time in the world to marvel your creation.