Creative Block

Have you experienced a time when you lost motivation ti edit and get images to the finish line?
Since Nov of last year, i had a lot of opportunities to shoot but have not had a chance to edit. That has resulted in a big backlog of images waiting for me to develop and finish. Now that i have some time i see an image from someone else or watch a video and i get super excited to edit, once i open Lightroom i keep scrolling my catalog and i lose that excitement and end up shutting my machine down without any work done.

I wonder if anyone else has gone through something similar and if you have any tips for dealing with this?

It is a strange feeling and it bothers me :sweat:

First, I’m sorry this is distressing. Losing interest or enthusiasm with something we’ve long loved is certainly disheartening. That said I think it happens to all of us. Especially during this stupid COVID situation. We can and do burn out. My strategy is to focus on something else until the fire is rekindled. In addition to photography I’m also a jewelry maker and lately that creative outlet has taken a back seat. Its time is coming though. I think these kinds of ebbs and flows are a part of being a creative person. Energy doesn’t come from nowhere. It has to be fueled and nurtured to be sustained. Sometimes we just poop out.

Then when interest returns I am usually restrained and don’t go jump right back into the deep end. Instead I limit my time editing or shooting so that my appetite isn’t satisfied. If I leave the editing program still wanting to edit, that’s a good thing. If I find myself longing to get outdoors more, that’s a good thing. Right now the urge to return to my jewelry bench is waxing and the urge to play with processing is waning. Such is life and I’m ok with it. Both bring me happiness and satisfaction and it’s not a competition. Neither are either of them jobs (well not really) so it’s ok for them to do this.

So allow yourself to take a break. Give yourself time to recharge. Maybe pursue something that you’ve been interested in, but didn’t have time for. The point is to let yourself off the hook so photography (in all its aspects) doesn’t feel like a chore. I hope it passes soon!


Oh yes, absolutely!

In my experience, creativity is an endless cycle of ebb and flow. The ebbs can be certainly be discouraging and maybe even disorienting, but I think they’re normal. Creativity takes time, and this is just part of the process.

Here’s a few things I try to keep in mind when I’m feeling creatively unmotivated and uninspired. I often find the last point to be most helpful (not sure if self-promotion is allowed, but these come from a much longer article I wrote about the topic of creativity, which contains some info into the neuroscience of creativity, a few more tips, and lots of links to additional reading):

  • Embrace inspiration. It doesn’t have to be photography: read a book, watch a movie, or visit an art museum. If you’re struggling to create for yourself, the best-case scenario is that this approach can help you find inspiration; the worst-case scenario is that you’re providing nourishing input to your creativity system.
  • Pursue other creative endeavors. This could mean shooting new or unfamiliar subjects, or trying out a different genre of photography, such as taking pet or portrait photos. Alternatively, it may be worthwhile to look into creative pursuits outside of photography entirely. For me, writing has proven to be an effective outlet when I’m having trouble picking up the camera.
  • Above all, allow it to happen. Understand that the creative process is long and cyclical, and have faith that inspiration will return. Most often, the external factors at play are only exacerbated by the pressure we put on ourselves to create. Consequently, convincing ourselves not to worry about that missing spark can actually be helpful outside of our creative pursuits as well.

The biggest hinderance to a desire to process an image is not having a quality image to work on. If I have shot something I feel good about then I usually can’t wait to work on it. I’m not one to try to create something good out of a mediocre image.

So the procrastination for me comes from the shooting. I’m not a believer that creativity just springs forth and you shoot. I still schedule outings even when I’m not inspired with the hope that it will happen in the field. It’s said that Hemingway would write every morning from sunup until noon regardless of how he felt. Go back 20-30 years. How many days would you have gone to school if it was up to how you felt about learning each morning?

If you ever have a chance then read Westons Daybooks. The man shot 8 hour days only to get up and do it again. But not every day. Everything he looked at was with the intention of a possible image. No problem with motivation there. Photography and living were one and the same. So perhaps motivation is related to how important photography is to you.