Breaking Through Creative Roadblocks

18 Imaginative Thinkers Break Your Creative Block


It happens to all of us at some point – you are driving along the creative highway unaware of some oncoming cerebral roadwork slowing the road down to one lane. You lose your focus for one second and BAM!!! You slam headlong into a creative wall. I asked seventeen of the most creative photographers, designers, bloggers, and creative industry professionals I know (and threw myself into the mix for good measure) to weigh in on how creative difficulties affect them and what they do to beat back the tide of artistic fatigue.

…This is just an excerpt from a great blog panel Luke Copping did this week. To read the whole blog post surf over to Luke’s blog

or you can read my contribution to his blog panel below…

JohnEarly LG 525x 18 Imaginative Thinkers Break Your Creative Block

John Early

Most creatives talk about how they sometimes find themselves in a creative rut, and search for ways to spur their creativity to produce new and captivating imagery. I am the opposite. I don’t think in terms of creative ruts, but rather creative peaks. I usually float along in a creative steady-state so to speak. Then every once in a while a creative peak will occur, and that is when the good ideas and inspiration flow freely. I’ll use the analogy of an author. Most authors can’t just sit down and write an award-winning novel on command. Similarly, a photographer cannot expect to produce a great shot on the spur of the moment. Of course one can and this does happen occasionally, but it is not the norm.

As many photographers know, often too much of our daily time is spent running the business, shooting bread and butter jobs, promoting, blogging, social media, etc., and not being creative. These activities usually won’t foster the arrival of a creative peak so when I want to try and bring on a creative peak there’s three things I’ll usually try:

• I’ll get on my mountain bike and ride a good, long, hard ride. I’ll push my limits and ride at least twice as long as usual which for me means three or more hours. It’s not that I can think creatively while I’m riding, because if I did that I’d end up with dirt in my teeth at the very least. I like to mountain bike because I cannot think of anything while I ride – or I’ll crash. So, I am basically doing a clean sweep and optimization of my brain (like a hard drive). When the aprés-ride endorphins kick in and I am in a state of bliss, is usually when I tend to be able to think more creatively. I’ll put on some mellow music and just start brainstorming.

• Or I’ll change my location to somewhere unfamiliar. I might go into a part of town I don’t usually visit and shoot some street scenes or architecture. The point is to experience something different than what I am used to. I find that just putting myself in a new “world” so to speak, get’s my creative juices flowing. Most often this is personal work for me since I am primarily an automotive photographer. But I firmly believe photographers and artists must also create for themselves to keep up their creativity, even if they never show that work. The old saying is true: Use it or lose it. This applies to creativity as well.

• Lastly, I’ll exhaustively scour the internet and magazines for what photographers/cinematographers are currently shooting. I’ll regularly do this 3-4 times a year and sometimes more often. While I would never advocate stealing someone else’s ideas, I find that my creativity is often sparked by viewing great work done by others. It’s just another component in the R&D of furthering my creativity.

John Early is an award-winning automotive and product photographer based in Los Angeles.

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