photography & instagram

overcoming creative block

01.26.16

Lets talk about creativity & what to do when it deserts you. I have been stuck in a creative lull for weeks, it’s driving me nuts and overcoming creative block is high on my list of desires right now. I’ve written this post with photography and Instagram in mind though the following tips could apply to other creative areas too.

overcoming creative block | humphrey and grace

I’m blaming my creative block on external factors (having flu followed almost straight away with having a cold, January in general, rubbish weather, a difficult circumstance over which I have no control, you get the impression) and I’m sure they play a role, though I have a sneaking suspicion that this prolonged lack of inspiration is also due to an element of temporarily burning out after posting photos just about daily for well over two years… 

I’m also pretty sure that any creative person hits a block from time to time. So the question is what to do when it happens…? I guess my advice would be find a way that works for you, creativity always comes back sooner or later, something will inspire you, until then here are a few suggestions to keep you going.

overcoming creative block

Post less, observe more

Take the pressure off yourself. I’ve said it before and will say again, there are no rules here. And despite how it may feel your followers won’t up and leave if you take a few weeks to collect yourself! If you have hit that point of not knowing what to post then take a little break. Let’s put this into perspective, it’s a photo sharing app. World peace does not depend on it. Simply enjoy scrolling and looking at others photos for a while.

Try new things

Recently I have been dabbling with moody lighting and dark shots. Not for every post but fairly regularly. It doesn’t come easily to me, I want to find a light background and well lit corner and to post low light dark shots has been a learning curve. So what’s the point? Well I don’t want to be a one trick pony. I want my photos to show different skills and techniques, I want my gallery to be a journey. In fact it is. It has colourful times and monochromatic times, there are themes and patterns and it evolves constantly. That is how I like it. Trying new things can be an inspiring gamble that isn’t always well received but I’d rather try than not, I don’t want to be posting the same photos I was posting two and a half years ago when I started Instagramming. This technique may not be for everyone but for me a change is a good thing. Try rotating photos to see a new perspective, try looking down or looking up. Read the brief differently and think outside the box. Try something new, you might just find you really like it!

Revisit old things

Having said that there is also something to be said for scrolling back down your own gallery and thinking about it, which parts make you feel good, what about them makes you happy, why do you like the way it looks? And of course which parts are you not so happy with and why? I am a bit of a compulsive deleter, if something isn’t working it gets the chop… And sometimes you might remember something you had forgotten. This past couple of weeks I have remembered why I enjoyed arranging flowers around a cup (and have rediscovered #julias_cups, the joy, with a tongue in cheek name and nonsensical contents) the utter absorption for 10 minutes and the pretty result. Yep, looking back can also be inspiring, but don’t aim to replicate, make a new photo current and relevant with your previous photos acting only as a reference point.

Use your camera roll

Every Instagrammer I know has a camera roll full of ‘spare’ shots, use them to tide you over. Nothing wrong with a few #latergram #throwbackthursday or #fromthecuttingroomfloor posts…

Start a new hashtag

Oh I love a new hashtag. I can’t even remember all of the ones I have started but I have my favourites. Collecting images can inspire me to find the next shot that fits the theme. Have a look at #julias_beach or #julias_wildflowers they are my tags, my photos, great to see collect over time. Why not start your own? There are a million and one possibilities…

Write down ideas

Sometimes you have the BEST idea and it either doesn’t fit now or you aren’t able to implement it straight away. Keep a note and come back to it later. (And this works for blog posts too!)

Look beyond Instagram

Because the world does not revolve around it and wonderful things are happening if you just take the time to look. Whether your ‘thing’ is art or gardening or floristry or collecting or antiques or reading books or magazines or ANYTHING else, inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be a pretty shop display or a combination of textures or colours. A raindrop on a new bud. The waves crashing against the shore. Absorb yourself in the world around you and creativity will come soon enough.

Scroll the explore page, refresh it a few times

One of the best things about this page is the variety of images/styles/techniques it includes. You will come across photos and accounts you might not otherwise and some of them are just amazing. It’s one of my current favourite things to do…

Follow new accounts, change your feed so it inspires you

Ok maybe not everyones thing, but I follow and unfollow big accounts fairly regularly. There are some amazing Instagrammers out there. I have a thing about keeping the number I follow below 200, any more and I find I can’t manage the scrolling (and I do like to scroll) so there is an element of turnover. But more than that, refreshing parts of your feed from time to time keeps it inspiring.

I am writing this post as a pep talk for myself as much as for you. I need a new perspective, to stop questioning whether I’m any good and just create what I feel like creating because even the low points are part of the creative journey and there is something to be learned from them.

So tell me, what do you do when you feel uninspired? How do you find that enthusiasm again? I’d love to hear your thoughts too…

Julia x

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11 comments on “overcoming creative block”

    1. Thanks Kizzy! I hope your mojo returns soon, I’m sure it will! I’m having the opposite problem this week and have too much to post, can’t win hey?!

  1. Hello Julia, I’ve very recently started using Instagram properly – prior to this I had the account and kind of left it there floundering. It’s funny, because I’m a journalist and had a massive block with my creative writing and blog, but I’m finding that taking a daily photo is really helping me to unblock ( sorry, that sounds a bit wrong! ) Just looking at the world through pictures rather than words; scrolling through my growing gallery and finding new accounts to follow, such as yours ( I love it ) is helping me to find my writing voice again, if that makes sense? You’re right, sometimes just looking and being in the world, without pushing for an end result, can spark creativity.

    1. Hi Loma, I absolutely understand what you are saying. And I am finding that inspiration is actually coming from places other than Instagram, stepping back this month has really helped me re-think my perspective. I hope you enjoy Instagram, it’s a really amazing place and I thank you for your lovely comment about my photos too x

  2. Brilliant post Julia, all great ideas. I’ve completely lost my creative mojo recently – I think the time of year has a big impact on us. I’ve been using “spare” photos from my camera roll a lot and digging into the archives… I think the best thing for me is just to leave it, don’t force it, and don’t beat myself up. I usually find inspiration strikes when I’m doing something entirely different and not trying. I do love looking back through my favourites though for a bit of inspiration. Like the idea of your 200 limit to follow – mine has crept over 400 and I don’t have time to keep up with it all….. By the way, you’d never be able to tell you’ve been struggling from your IG feed – you’re up there with my favourites inspirers xxx

    1. Thanks so much Zoë, I do think January has an awful lot to answer for with it’s low light and terrible weather this year. And yes I agree, take a step back and relax, creativity always strikes at some point doesn’t it?
      And thank you too, for the lovely comment abut my Instagram, there was a week or two earlier this month when I seriously considered leaving it all be completely… That’s a proper ‘I’ve not been well and can’t create stuff’ woe is me feeling isn’t it? I’m getting over it now…

  3. As someone experiencing “creative block” for far too long, this post is exactly the things that I need to remind myself of rather than beat myself up about it. I’m still learning what I even want my niche to be on Instagram, and it certainly doesn’t help how indecisive I can be.

    When feeling uninspired though, it certainly does help even just a little in making good use of the “explore” function. I make it a point to follow others that can constantly inspire me & sort of strike at the creative chords in my body.

    1. Thanks Sara, it can take a while to find a niche, thats for sure, and even when you do find one it evolves with you over time. I do find the most helpful thing is to take the pressure off myself and to remember it is meant to be fun. I hope you find your inspiration soon x

  4. Great post Julia, I do all of the above when inspiration is lacking! I love to have a full camera roll and I love getting out and about, with my camera, just shooting anything and everything (not for Instagram necessarily). I usually find when I look at what I’ve got there might be something I’d like to try again, in different light and alter the angle a bit. The ideas soon flow! January has got to be the worst time for photography and Instagram though… but Spring is around the corner! Xx

    1. Thanks Hannah! I’m giving myself a bit of a talking to because it’s getting silly, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really matter anyway!! I’m going back to arranging stuff because I enjoy the process and love the end result… Filling the camera roll is a great idea, even if you don’t use the photos it gets you looking doesn’t it? I think I need to try that one too xx

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