There will be times in your career where you are in short supply of creativity, and it isn’t something to be ashamed of. Whether you gather inspiration from social media, peers, magazines, or simply walking on the street listening to music, there is always something new you can try to get the creative juices flowing again. Without consistent inspiration and motivation, our work seems to be a duplication of itself leading to the inevitable burnout of creativity. So, we asked pressional photographers how they stay creatively refreshed as an artist and here’s what they had to say:

Jermaine Horton – Website | Instagram

“I’m a die-hard sports fan, so being able to shoot pro sports is an outlet of joy and eases my mind because I know the game. It’s so fun watching some of my favorite players make plays and celebrate with their emotions. I know some people love vacations, i.e. walks on the beach to clear their mind, and I do too, but sports is clarity for my mind. I enjoy seeing people passionate about their craft and living up to major moments. There is nothing predictable about sports which HELPS me with weddings because you never know what will happen and it keeps your mind and reactions sharp.”

Marlies Hartmann – Website | Instagram

“As a single parent, finding balance has always been my greatest struggle, and it can be incredibly difficult to stay inspired when you’re chained to your computer 24/7. For me to stay inspired, putting aside work 100% and focusing on my daughter lets me reset and see the world through her eyes. Exposing her to new places (like Tokyo in this instance), taking her to see an art exhibit, broadway show, or fun pop-up museum allows me to draw inspiration from an alternate artistic mediums while also giving her my undivided attention, and enhances her love of the arts/nature all at the same time. Those opportunities result in a full cup that’s ready to get back to work with a fresh outlook, renewed perspective, and a stronger relationship with my daughter.”

Thomas Ingersoll – Website | Instagram

“How people choose to spend their free time is always a huge inspiration to me. What skills have they cultivated? What do they do and how do they do it? There is something captivating about all the ways we choose to occupy our time. For this project, I wanted to show the vibration and rhythm that comes with playing the stand-up bass. The mood the artist created with her instrument inspired me to use colored gels, and the vibration of the strings inspired me to use a slow shutter.”

Kesha Lambert – Website | Instagram

“We frequently find ourselves working at the same venues. Familiarity with a venue is great in terms of logistics but it can be a creativity killer because it is so easy to default to doing what you know works well in that space. Then there is the challenge of the client’s “must-have” shots related to the venue. Many venues have popular areas or architectural structures that venue is known for, which are sometimes the reason that the couple chose the venue. Grand swirling stairs, an opulent archway, a view of the skyline, a rooftop; working in these must-have spaces can also throw a creative into default mode. So one thing that I like to do is just observe spaces. I will stand in a space and just look at it, look for textures and nooks that I may not have noticed before. When I enter a space find the thing that draws the viewer’s attention, find the thing that makes the room special, then turn my back to that part of the room and really observe. The first photograph shows the archway that was in this venue’s wedding brochure and enlarged in print on the walls of the venue’s lobby, the second photograph is what I captured when I turned my back to the brochure arch.”

Taylor Kinzie – Website | Instagram

“Whenever I’m starting to feel the familiar heaviness of burn out, I pack up the car and go on a road trip to somewhere beautiful and isolated. My go-to destinations are Yosemite, the Central Coast, and Montana. During this time, I unplug from social media so I can clear out the clutter of the comparison game in my head. I let myself do nothing but feel joy and awe. Taking time out of my schedule to get re-centered and reconnected with nature and myself helps me to feel inspired again and I always return feeling energized and ready to create.”

Jason & Joanne Marino – Website | Instagram

“Spending a few weeks in our RV is always our way of recharging and finding inspiration. Not only do new locales allow us to see the world differently, but the food we eat, people we meet, and adventures we have really get us geared up to dive back into work once we’re back home. This photo is of our three teens from our summer RV road trip in 2018, taken at sunset, just outside Monterey, CA, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca RV Campground. It says it all for us.”

Vanessa Joy – Website | Instagram

“I love trying a new photographic technique outside of my typical brand. I tend to have a light and bright image style to my photography, so going the opposite I’ve tried doing silhouettes with a fun colorful twist. This technique is great for hiding ugly locations, creating an epic image, and surprising them with something they can’t see on their own.”

Citlalli Rico – Website | Instagram

“I’ve always loved plants and finding a way to incorporate them in my photography work. My favorite is to frame my couples with any kind of leaves that are bright and beautiful. Plants have also helped me tremendously to understand natural light and how to see it and use it in the portraits I create.”

Jay Cassario – Website | Instagram

“Every year around August and September, I start to feel burnt out and feel like everything I do is repetitive. It’s a mental game that kicks in each and every year. I used to switch to shooting film, which helped because it challenged me and made shooting fun again. The problem with that is is that it becomes expensive and the inspiration from it quickly fades away. A few years ago I decided to switch it up and being that my son was 3 years old, I took him and my wife to Bar Harbor, Maine for vacation. I spent the week documenting his new experiences without asking him to look at the camera a single time. Since a good amount of my wedding photography is done in a documentary style, I fell in love with photographing my son the same way as he explored the world. My wife and I now plan a vacay every year around the end of August or early September for this exact reason now. I bring one camera and one lens, which is normally my Leica M and either a 24mm or 35mm lens. It provides us a little break during the busy season and no matter how burnt out I am from photography I find the love all over again photographing my son as he grows older and older each year.”

Lanny Mann – Website | Instagram

“Nature. Exercise. Music. Meditation. & Yoga. And most importantly, our kids!”

Justin Haugen – Website | Instagram | Wedding Maps Profile

“Self-care is a big part of helping me stay creatively refreshed and excited about the work I do. Lately, I’ve been getting into an exercise routine and rekindling interest in Yoga through the kind mentorship of a wonderful woman who I’ve photographed through her journey of growth. She’s helping me find my flow in life and I’m showing her the beauty and strength I see in her. Exercise, get massages, take some personal time. Disrupt your daily routines and treat your body and mind better, and the photography you do will reflect the growth you experience.”

Jared Gant – Website | Instagram | Wedding Maps Profile

“Simply breaking up my daily grind and routine helps me stay refreshed and increases my creativity. Typically, we as a family break up our routine by traveling somewhere new with each other a few times a year. Both my wife and I own individual businesses and this can be challenging, but always worth the effort. While traveling, we will turn off phones and other electronics and try to be fully present with each other. Recently we traveled to southern California and took our kiddos to several beaches. Seeing the excitement in their eyes as they got to experience the Pacific Ocean for the very first time caused me to pause and self-reflect on how much I take for granted the beauty all around.”

Ralf Czogallik – Website | Instagram

“First of all, it’s very hard to keep me motivated but on the other hand, it’s not. For example, last weekend I had a long Saturday with 19+ hours. The next day I had to shoot another wedding so I was tired as f**k and was not looking forward to shooting this one. But the minute I walked in the bride welcomed me with a big hug and I was on track again. We had so much fun that I completely forgot how tired I was. I stopped looking at other wedding photographers to get inspired. The less time I invest in doing that the better my images get. I only do what I love to do it even if that means I am losing a client or two in the process. The most important thing for me is to keep myself focused all the time. Doing the thing I am good at and instead of looking at other photographers I try to get in touch with them, have lunch, have dinner or meet for drinks. Just to talk and listen.”

Tanya Parada – Website | Instagram

“Something that refreshes me creatively is exploring LA with just my iPhone. I’ll leave my professional camera at home and look for interesting pockets of light, shapes, and compositions with fresh eyes and zero pressure! It helps me to relax, hone in on being present in the moment and really study light.”

Megan Allen – Website | Instagram

“This is about the time that I start to feel that I’m running out of creativity in the year, which used to induce a panic. Now, I try to remind myself that every wedding is fresh and new to that couple, and it’s my job to remember and honor that, and kick tail no matter what! One of the ways I keep things fresh is to step outside of the wedding photography and work with fellow creatives to create content for their personal branding and social media presences. Working with many of the cast members of Hamilton, Aladdin, Mean Girls, and others have invited me to see things differently and take risks in the creative process. Branching out of the wedding world and creating for other creatives in a more fluid and creative space has helped me come back to wedding days with a curious, creative spirit, and I’m thankful for that.”

Christian Cardona – Website | Instagram

“I always find peace when I’m with these guys. More than inspiration, I find time to take a break from the everyday rush. I think we get stuck just because we don’t take time for ourselves, our families, and our personal projects. We are always in a rush and this is something I struggle with and I’ve always had a hard time balancing. I find ideas, think better and find creativity when I stop and breathe, so here’s to hoping I can do that more often.

Geeta Randery – Website | Instagram

“Work on yourself before you go-to-work for someone else…” is a quote that’s always stuck with me. Something that I enjoy that helps me remain refreshed and maintain creativity is ‘working on myself.’ Making the time to do the things that I need/enjoy FIRST, before my kids & husband; I can’t do justice to my business/family if I’m not 100 first. I learned this the very hard way after struggling through depression a couple of years back, as I was prioritizing the care of everyone & everything else first, before my own. My kids, husband, chores, business, clients… always came first; self-care didn’t exist in my daily routine. Once I began “working on myself before I went to work for someone else” I changed the trajectory of my happiness and took control back. I now prioritize taking care of myself from the inside out, which means eating wholistic & clean, going to yoga classes at least 3 times a week, and taking a mandatory vacation once a quarter – away from my camera, computer, chores, etc. Since then, my business has flourished, I’m incredibly happy, able to remain refreshed, and draw creativity because my mind, body, & soul are in a constant state of abundance.”

Tanya Smith – Website | Instagram

“I’m totally inspired by each of my individual clients. Since I work with brands, they each have a different story to tell, which means I can get creative with lighting, posing, colors, backgrounds, props, etc. and every shoot is so different! In this particular case, the client wanted something urban and a little grungy. We chose a rooftop location at golden hour and I brought a Lens Baby and some tulle to play with in front of the lens for some cool effects.”

Dave Shay – Website | Instagram

“Keeping myself at the top of my creative game used to mean reading a ton of books or catching up on the latest blog posts from photographers I love. Lately, I’ve noticed that the best way for me to stay creative while I shoot is to make sure that I go into every shoot well-rested and in solid physical shape. This means going to the gym regularly, and intentionally planning in vacations and time off in my busiest seasons. I’ve become willing to lose a lead or two while I escape for 2-3 days with no computer, and nothing but my iPhone to make sure that I serve the clients I do have to the best of my ability. This image is from an iPhone X edited with Lightroom Mobile.”

Pye Jirsa – Website | Instagram

“I have the challenge of going last after so many wonderful tips and insights have been given. My insight and tip is a summation of what’s been said. When trying to keep oneself creatively refreshed, go back to the things that have and continue to sustain your interest in photography. This isn’t shooting what your clients want, it’s not planing shoots that will get you more business, nor is it even taking pictures of things that you think will help grow your social media presence. This is taking pictures that you would take regardless of the outcome, taking pictures simply for you. In my case, this is taking my family out on road trips and shoots where I can document moments that matter to me (like this picture of my children during a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats). In your case, it could look completely different. The important thing here is dropping all-purpose beyond one simple thing, capturing photographs that make you happy.”

Vanessa Joy – Website | Instagram

“Staying creative can be tough because burnout is fairly rampant with photographers. I found that you have to find new things to fall in love with throughout your career that keep you interested and motivated. Recently, for me, it’s been about getting to know my clients more and becoming more connected to them so I’m even more excited about telling their love story. I find the more emotionally invested I am a couple the more creatively motivated I’ve become.”

Anna Nguyen Stratton – Website | Instagram

“Burnout is a real thing, and with everyone glorifying the hustle it’s hard to not feel guilty when you want to take a break. Soon you’ll get into a rut of not wanting to document your own family or create for yourself because you don’t want to see a camera. This is a good time to use something else to create. When I’m feeling like it’s become “work” I pull out my iPhone and get creative. That’s how I got into underwater photography. It was my release, and it all started with an Otterbox and an iPhone. Now I have a full underwater kit and shoot commissioned work. Being underwater has its own challenges that you don’t deal with on the daily so it’s exciting, fun, and very much freeing because you’re not fighting against what is expected and what is creative.”

Trevor Dayley – Instagram | Website

“I like to think of my creative brain like a computer. Whenever it’s lagging, running slow, or just seems bogged down, often times what it needs is a reboot. The way I do this is by giving myself a small challenge to force me to use something that is not part of my standard process (a light, a lens, a technique.) For instance, I might say to myself, “for the next ten minutes you are going to shoot at f8, instead of the typical “wide open” f1.2 that you’ve been doing.” Or I might say, “Alright, Trevor go grab the 90mm Tilt-Shift lens out of your bag because it’s now the only lens you’ll be using for the next 15 minutes.” These challenges help to reboot my creative side and get outside that box of doing the same thing over and over again.”

Rob Hall – YouTube | Instagram

“Get back to whatever excited you about photography in the first place. Often times we learn photography playfully in our immediate environment, but the career takes it into a completely different direction. For me, taking extended travel breaks and photographing the new experience takes me back to the feeling I had when I first discovered photography. I always come back to work with a clear mind to create.”

Citlalli Rico – Website | Instagram

“I started 13 years ago shooting 100 weddings per year. The burnout was real after every high season. To stay creative and inspired, I found out doing art projects outside wedding photography kept me going. Right now I’m working on lino prints and I love it.”

Eric Talerico – Website | Instagram

“How to keep that creative spark burning is something I think about a lot in my career, and in life. I’ve learned to push myself outside my comfort zones whenever I can by avoiding patterns and routines. I find this keeps me on my toes and allows me to pull ideas from myself and the environment around me rather than doing the same thing over and over. If I am photographing at a venue that I’ve shot at before my goal is to never shoot in the same spot twice. There are more times than I can count where I’ve said to myself “How did I get myself in this situation? What was I thinking? I should have just taken the safe shot.” But when the dust settles I am usually amazed at the end result. It makes me feel like a true creative and keeps me inspired to push myself outside my comfort zone again the next time.”

Dave & Abby Moss – Website | Instagram

“Travel has been my biggest inspiration. Exploring the world and connecting with cultures that have different wisdom, perspectives, and ways of being has helped me open my mind and heart to all kinds of new experiences. When I travel I’m outside of my normal life and my normal self. I see the world with fresh eyes and it helps me to love people and our natural world even more. I’m also passionate about exploring my inner world. When I’m continually growing and changing I feel fulfilled and creative. Everything in life can help me understand myself better; running a business, unpacking why something triggered me, reading a book, taking a course, meditating, etc. If I start to feel disconnected I reach out to my community of open-hearted healers and creatives. Simply being around them helps me to reconnect and remember who I am. When I’m filled up inside I can let creativity spill out.”

Justin Haugen – Instagram | Website | Awards Profile

“We are creatures of habit and prone to a routine that keeps our minds in the same creative space. I do my best to disrupt patterns in my life and open myself up to new experiences. On a whim, I went to a friend’s cafe on a Monday night to randomly see a visiting musician who was touring the country from Japan. I was one of five people in the room that night and it ended up being one of my favorite musical experiences. Afterward, I invited the musician to shoot with me the next day and I was so fortunate to happen upon such a creative and interesting subject. Get out into your city and try something different for a change. You never know what opportunities will present themselves or how inspiration will strike you.”

Lanny & Erika Mann – Website | Instagram

Jesh de Rox says it best, “If you want to make interesting work, live an interesting life.” That, and learn from our kids (the most creative, imaginative humans on Earth).”

Jay Cassario – Website | Instagram

“Ever since I began shooting 35-45 weddings per year, I always find myself hitting a hard creative rut right around the 3/4 mark of the wedding season. I feel like everything I do is repetitive. Everything is similar to some other shot I took earlier. I start to feel like my creativity that came so easily in the first half of the year, after a couple months of downtime, really becomes difficult to pull out. It was about 4 years ago that I started really feeling it, so I started shooting film at weddings. Shooting a different medium seemed to really help. Shooting film is a lot different than shooting digital, so it really forced me to switch things up. I did the same thing the following year. Due to the price of film and getting it scanned, it wasn’t the best move financially so I needed to try something else a couple years ago. Being that I’m an ambassador for Leica Camera USA, they often ask for new work so I decided to use that as an excuse to start giving them something other than just wedding photos. I began doing a lot more shoots with local models, something I still do today but more-so throughout the year now. When I photograph a model my approach is very different then it is on a wedding day. Obviously, for the fact that there’s only one subject but I’m not shooting in a photojournalistic style. I’m not anticipating moments. I’m working in a completely different style and it really helps avoid creative burnout. Burnout can really affect you as a wedding photographer and the end product that you deliver to a client. Try to switch things up, use lenses you don’t typically use that often, try different lighting techniques, or start to really push yourself in areas that you may struggle in. The other idea I would offer is what I’ve been doing the past couple of years which is to find something else to shoot besides wedding photography. It can also open up other doors to help financially as well.”

Megan Allen – Website | Instagram

“To keep my creative spark going, I really enjoy going outside of my usual genre of wedding photography, and doing creative portraiture for actors and musicians. The organic, creative vibes they come to their shoots with always fuels my soul, and I come away energized and inspired by their creativity that they lend me on the shoots.

It’s a different vibe when you get to work with fellow creatives, and the ability to bounce concepts off one another — as well as knowing when you say, “Hey, I have an idea…” — is a beautiful thing, and the collaboration always comes out looking a little different. I love it, and I hope I can continue to create for creatives in the future.”

Jared Gant – Instagram | Website | Wedding Maps Profile

“I stay creative by staying curious, by always learning and improving, and then by acting on that curiosity by playing outside the lines. I find that maintaining creativity is particularly difficult when I’m not pushing myself to learn or when I get too complacent with what I have already learned. The more I know the more I realize what I don’t know, and that motivates me to explore further and try harder. Then, once I’ve explored, I can leave the path, and that’s when things get really fun. Put another way, each time I learn something new, it’s like adding a new color to my paint palette. Once I’ve mastered that new color, it’s time to paint outside the lines.”

Sean LeBlanc – Website | Instagram

“I stay creative by saying “YES” to work outside of photographing weddings and will often seek out new opportunities that get me out of my comfort zone. In the early days, I would turn down non-wedding related work because I was only focused on weddings and engagements. This was great for a few years however over time I began to hit some creative roadblocks. Over the last two years, I have been saying “YES” to a wide range of portrait work and I have been blown away by not only the amazing stories I discover about my clients but also how far I can push my creativity to showcase their story with bold creative artwork.”

Lyndah Wells – Website | Instagram

“I try and combine my love of travel and photography to break out of my creative rut because sometimes it gets bad. Hanging with a group of friends, exploring somewhere I’ve never been and shooting with my small discreet Fuji making photos that please only me, meeting new people on my travels gets me revved up to get back to work and takes the pressure off.”

Dave Paek – Website | Instagram

“Sometimes you need to step back and not give a sh*t what other photographers or award societies will think of your work. You need to look introspectively and ask yourself what’s important to you and how your emotions color (for the lack of a better word) the people you photograph. I sometimes have a very emo way of looking at things and my photos can sometimes be on the moody or dark side. I am obsessed with themes related to inner struggle/conflict, deliverance, and redemption. I like shooting underwater to draw out these themes and emotions.”