So you want to shoot a little bit of photography, but your creative mind draws a blank, you can’t think what you want to capture. It’s easy to say I’m going to photograph a model, but what will you do once that model is in front of your camera? How do you light it? How do you compose it? What type of theme or concept will you shoot? You’re after great photos not mediocre snapshots. But again, you’re blank in creative thoughts.

Cloud Gate Bean, Chicago

We had to deal with crowds almost everywhere we tried to shoot like seen here at the “Cloud Gate” bean.

It’s a mental lapse, just like when writers get writer’s bloc, as a photographer your in a rut, or as I like to call it, you’re experiencing a brain fart. Your creative juices just came to a screeching halt and now you have to overcome it so you can plan and pre-visualize the photos you want to create. So let me take you through a few things that can help get your creative mind get back on track and so the brain fart can dissipate in to thin air.

First, you’ve got to get your gears turning and your blood flowing. So stand up and do a little stretching, touch those toes, stretch like you’re getting ready for a good sprint. Now after you’ve stretched those muscles a bit, take a walk outside even if it’s just walking around the building. Take that moment to observe what you see around you, and if you want to take a jog, do that too with the same observation mind set. Look at how the light strikes the building, the trees, the cars and other objects around you. Teach yourself to see, not just look.

Now that the blood is flowing, you’ve got to work on stimulating your creative mind before you go back inside. If you took that jog, find a bench to rest, drink some water, then watch the people and things around you. Don’t stare or gawk though, just observe as you take a rest and your body cools down. Once you’ve had a little bit of that “me time,” head on out to the local library or book store. Walk the isles and notice the popular book covers plus their designs. Take note of other people’s creativity, it’s right there for you to observe, though don’t judge it, if you see something you like, ask yourself, “how can I make it better?

Creative Mind, Brain Fart

The creative mind starts when the gears begin to turn.

If you still have a little time and feel you need a little more inspiration, then head out to an art gallery. Study what you see, look at the techniques each artist used in creating their artwork. Notice how they use the intermixing of lights and darks, also known as chiaroscuro, to create depth and illusions in their paintings. Observe the subject matter each artist has painted or sculpted. Look for “form” in the artwork itself. Take notes, not just mental notes, jot them down in your phone’s notepad or on an actual notebook. And if you have a notebook, try sketching what you see.

Now head back home or to your office and start jotting down what you saw and observed. When you arrive there, get rid of any distractions; turn down the noise, lock yourself in an empty room and put the smartphone on silent facedown to avoid any social media urges.

Next, make the atmosphere a bit lively and not so dreary, open up the blinds a bit so the sun will shine, but make sure the room isn’t too bright. Turn on a little light rock or your favorite genre of music at a comfortable audio level. The idea is to get you in that groove where it’s like driving down a country road and you don’t even hear the tunes being played—that’s the atmosphere you want to build in your mind.

California Sunbounce, Cozumel

Here you see me using two California Sunbounce reflectors while shooting Cozumel; before the shoot, I brainstormed and knew I’d need this type of lighting.

Once the atmosphere is conducive, you can start jotting down what you saw earlier in the day, doodle if you must, but write down those observations and see how you can expand on them. Pencil-sketch a storyboard about a future shoot. Write down any details in bullet statements underneath your creative sketch. The concept here is to brainstorm and put it on paper while your creative mind is flowing. This will come in handy on your actual shoot day, especially if you wake up with a brain fart. You’ll be surprised how these sketches and story ideas will get your creative juices flowing again—in fact, this process gives you starting points to get creative.

Storyboards are common in television production, and they are just as common in the advertising world, often provided to the photographers by an art director of what the client wants the photographer to create. Don’t let drawing or sketching your ideas scare you even if you’re drawings are stick figures, as in the end, you only will showcase your best photos, not your storyboards. If it makes a difference and you don’t like pencils, no worries, breakout the crayons, whatever works for you it doesn’t matter as long as you go through the process.

In the end, it’s all about getting out of that creative rut. There are other methods, but hopefully these outlined in this article will give you a creative boost. They work if you let them work, so don’t over focus on many things, stay focused on one objective and your creative juices will flow again, no more brain farts!

With that I close and as always, I ask that you do not forget the men and women who everyday sacrifice a lot to protect our freedoms. God bless them, their family and friends, Rolando.

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