My latest #peninpractice column, first published in the Olympus magazine July Issue. All about how to beat photographer’s block. Let me know if you enjoy the tips…!
“Have camera, will snap’ is pretty much my daily approach to photography. I am constantly taking photos, and most of the time I have my photographer’s head on which involves scouting for photo opps wherever I am. To the outside world, it can mean looking a little zoned out as I’m tuning in visually to my surroundings and thinking about what would work well in a picture!
Obviously when in a new place, you can be overwhelmed at the countless opportunities for photographs. The excitement of the unfamiliar can send your brain into overdrive. But what if you’re stuck in the same old place or you’ve arrived somewhere and the weather is atrocious (this happened on our Portugal trip!) and suddenly all your picture options seem horribly reduced?
Here are my top five tips for overcoming photographer’s block:
Manipulate Your Surroundings
If you’re bored of your usual day to day or have shot your garden or kitchen table a thousand times, think about bringing something new into the equation. Find or make some interesting backdrops – old floorboards or wood samples from B&Q can inspire you with fresh colours and textures for still lifes. Or how about heading down to you local second hand shop for some interesting props – china mugs, old watches or pretty plates?
Chase The Light
Even on the rainiest day, there will be a time of day when the light is at its best. This might be first thing in the morning or when the sun finally breaks through the clouds. If shooting indoors monitor a good near-to-the-window spot and work out when best to shoot there. A lot of photography is about planning and waiting to take your shot! If it’s heavily raining but there’s still decent light outdoors, protect your equipment with a plastic bag wrapped round your camera – cut it into a tube so you can see through the viewfinder and your lens isn’t obscured.
Take Advantage of The Bad Weather
Although you may be dreaming of perfect blue skies, bad weather can make for really powerful and moody shots. We made our way down to an extremely windy beach just before the rain started and the grey clouds hanging low over the sand and roiling sea were a joy to shoot. Plus you don’t need the sun (in fact, you’d rather not have it, when you’re shooting in towns or cities. I took a whole load of ‘pretty doors’ shots on a rainy, grey day.
Zoom In On The Details
Focusing on details, providing you’ve got enough natural light from a nearby window or on a grey day can make for interesting shots with a story to tell. My little boy Gus unearthed a weatherworn old paddle on the beach (this was during a lot of wind and a light drizzle) and I knew immediately that it’d work in a photograph. I focused on creating bold lines in the picture by creating a strong right angle to frame my shoes.
Take a Break
And like anything, if you’re feeling all out of inspiration, take a break. Sometimes you need to lose yourself in a different sense (listening to music or reading a good book always does it for me) to come back refreshing and raring to go on the visual front. Or be inspired by other’s work: at the moment I’m loving browsing Instagram hasgtags #nothingisordinary #momentsofmine #alifeofintention and #botanicalpickmeup.