Hey, let’s face it. We’ve all been there. One day it just hits you. You start hating your every single picture you take and feel super uninspired. Nothing makes you happy. You can’t help but think “why can’t I take photos like this?” when you look at all the other amazing photographers out there. Does that sound familiar? If so, you’re probably suffering from a creative rut.

I wish I could say I can’t relate, but I’ve been there so many times. Over time, however, I’ve learned that there are certain things that help me overcome my rut and help me get back to being creative again. Here are are some of my top tips on how to overcome your creative rut:

What is a Creative Rut?

A creative rut refers to a state or period during which an individual faces a significant lack of inspiration, motivation, or fresh ideas, especially in a creative context. It’s characterized by a sense of stagnation in creativity, where producing original or innovative work becomes challenging. Artists in a creative rut often experience feelings of frustration and repetitiveness, feeling as though they are stuck or unable to progress in their creative pursuits. This phenomenon is common among artists, writers, and other creative professionals, and can be a temporary or recurring obstacle in their creative process.  To avoid burnout and overcome your creative rut, try the following tips.

1. Focus on the Creativity, the Money Will Come

Let’s be real. Money plays a big part in our lives. I find whenever I start stressing about it, that pressure to provide for myself always takes over and my creativity takes a seat back. However, I find that it’s crucial to still work on your own personal projects to break out of a creative rut, even if work-life keeps you busy. Do fun things that you enjoy and that inspire you – this is a great way to stay creative and keep photography fun and not just something that pays the bills.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Have you ever looked at somebody else’s work and thought to yourself “wow it must be so easy being them, all the opportunity must just fall in their lap”? I have certainly been guilty of feeling envious of other photographers and their work. I think it’s easy to assume that others just have it easy. It’s important to learn to distinguish that what we see online is usually a glossy version of somebody’s career and not necessarily a reality. To break out of a creative rut, it’s important to appreciate what we have and what we can create and try and concentrate on that, instead of wasting our time hating on others.

3. Keeping Perspective is Key to Overcome a Creative Rut

It’s easy to get tired of your work when you’re the one continuously staring at it for hours and hours on end. A lot of us go from planning to producing, to retouching and editing our own images. We are painfully aware of all our shortcomings and the more we stare at our photos, the more we start to critique our own work. To break out of a creative rut, try asking a friend or a fellow creative for some constructive criticism of our work to realize that a lot of the time the shortcomings we might be obsessing about are mostly in our head.

4. Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Sit down and try and assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Try your best to be realistic and look at your work objectively. See what you like and what you dislike about it and how it could be changed or improved. It will give you a fresh perspective and allow you to see your work in a different light.  Taking a birds-eye-view can help you determine what you need to work on, where you need to improve, and how to overcome your creative rut.

5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

One of the quickest ways to break out of a creative rut is to simply try something new.  It’s very easy to get stuck in what’s comfortable. I don’t think any of us really enjoy to put ourselves out there, to step outside the comfort of what we know and what we like. It’s crucial however to push yourself and sometimes do the uncomfortable thing to progress and grow as an artist. When we start thinking outside the box we fully let ourselves be creative and allow ourselves the ability to express ourselves artistically.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

There will be times when you will do a shoot and it won’t work out. Over the years of doing photography, I’ve learned that all my mistakes weren’t really that, they were just filled with lessons of what to do and not to do, and they not only helped me grow but also helped me avoid messing up when working for clients or on big commercial jobs.

7. Take a Break to Overcome Your Creative Rut

Finally, if everything fails, don’t be afraid to just take a break. Either a short editing break or one that lasts a few days, few weeks or even a few months. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves the opportunity to miss photography a tiny bit to be able to fully embrace it and appreciate it.  I know that taking a longer break is scary and feels counterintuitive for the short term, but I truly believe that sometimes giving yourself space is crucial in helping get over a creative rut.

Here are some of the images currently on my Pinterest that have inspired me:

All in all, most of us do photography because it’s our passion, not just something that makes us money. We need to learn how to be less self-critical and more constructive when assessing our own work and abilities. Comparing ourselves to others will only take us this far and it’s so important to try and focus On figuring out our own style and working hard on creating our own opportunities. Most importantly give yourself space and constantly trying to step outside of your comfort zone to get the creative juices flowing and that’ll help you get over your creative rut in no time.

You can follow me on my photography journey through my Website or Instagram.