with Courtney Slazinik
Photography Blues: 4 Tips to Kick the Winter Rut

4 tips to kick the winter rut via Click it Up a Notch
The days are shorter which means the sun is out for less time. We deal with more overcast days which in turn can give you the photography blues. You aren’t alone. Use these tips to get over your blues and find some inspiration.

Kick the winter photography blues

1. Go to a museum or art exhibit.
One way to gather inspiration for photography is to put the camera down.  Pack your bags (maybe even pack your camera for all the inspiration you will have after your museum visit) and head to your nearest art exhibit.  There is so much to learn about composition and color (just to name two things) from the art masters.  By studying what makes a painting or a sculpture work you can gain insight into what will make a photograph shine.  Stop at the art pieces that grab you and deliberately look for what it is that is drawing you in.

This can help you look for those qualities in your photography as well.  Pick one piece or one aspect to focus on when you pick up your camera next and see what inspiration comes to you.  If you cannot make it to museum in person then utilize your internet to search out some artists who inspire you (you can put in the type of art like surrealism + images into Google or search by the artist’s name + images).

I pulled some inspiration from the art world for this macro shot by purposefully placing the orange flower against a blue background to utilize the contrasting colors off the color wheel.  This image was taken on a dreary day indoors, but on a day when I really want to shoot something and move past my photography blues!

4 Tips to Kick the Photography blues via Click it Up a Notch

2. Pick a different location and/or time of day than typical
While we know that the golden hour will help you produce some beautifully lit images, it can be easy to find what lighting or locations work for you and then get stagnate with the photographs you are producing.

Sometimes the challenge of shooting somewhere new or at a different time of day is just enough to bring that excitement back to shooting and get over the photography blues.  If you consistently schedule sessions two hours before sunset then maybe see if you can schedule a session for sunrise.  The early morning light can also give a really nice glow and depending on your location may highlight some new spots for you.

If you are concerned about getting the money shots with a client and don’t want to chance a new time of day, even at a familiar location, then maybe consider asking a friend to pose for you.  This way you can try something new but without the worry that you won’t get those images you need for a paying client.  Try scouting some new locations while taking a photo walk with a few people.  You can enjoy the pleasure of shooting anything you see, check out the light, and maybe find some new spots for upcoming sessions.  I have walked by this wall numerous times and finally shot a series there early in the morning.  I am so glad that I did.

4 Tips to Kick the Photography blues via Click it Up a Notch

3. Go out and shoot in less than perfect weather
This does not mean to go out and shoot in a blizzard (unless you are really prepared for that kind of shooting) but instead I am only suggesting that you look at the rain or snow as an opportunity rather than a roadblock.

Grab the kids, the rain boots, and umbrellas.

Head out into the misty, yucky drizzle to let them jump through rain puddles while you work on your action shots.  Be sure to use whatever kind of weather proofing you need to protect your gear although I have headed out with an umbrella over my head while my son wanted to dart in and out of the rain.  Since I live in {usually} sunny southern California I don’t have any snow photos to share with you but a quick search on Flickr or another photo sharing site should give you lots of inspiration.

One of my friends asked me to capture her brother’s homecoming after being overseas with the Marines for two years.  The day was full of pouring down rain so we spent most of the time indoors.  After the celebration my friend and her daughter threw on their super cute rain boots and we played a bit outside too.

4 Tips to Kick the Photography blues via Click it Up a Notch

4. Catch up on all those photography books you bought but never read
We have all done it.  Felt the inspiration come over us as we read the description of an online workbook or read a review on a new book someone has learned from, then bought it and let it sit there on a shelf (or on the hard drive).

Use this down time to catch up and give yourself some assignments.

Did you find a great book on composition?  Find one thing to work on then shoot it for a week straight.  Did you find a great online training that had an editing video?  Pick an old image and re-edit it using some new skills in the video.  Some days I am just looking for a push or an idea and forget about all the great prompts right there in these resources I have purchased.

Using an idea from a book on portraits for something as simple as window light, I shot this image this week after feeling inspired from reading People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs by Chris Orwig.

photography blues: tips to kick them via Click it Up a Notch

What do you do to get over your photography blues? Leave your ideas in the comments.

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you in advance if you purchase something and support Click it Up a Notch.

  • February 1, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Great article Allison, I’m definitely going to try some of your tips :)
    If I’m feeling in a bit of a rut I often get my macro lens out – its amazing how different things look when viewed in a new way!

    • Courtney
      February 1, 2013 at 5:27 PM

      Love the idea of getting out your macro!! Great idea!! Thanks!

    • Allison Jacobs - Contributor
      February 1, 2013 at 10:45 PM

      Thanks Tracy! <3 Yes, I also love seeing the world through the macro lens!

  • February 1, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Fantastic article with great tips. I definitely have a stack of photography books I can dig into on these dreary, gray days. The new site looks great, too, Courtney!

    • Courtney
      February 1, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Thanks Katrina! :) Yes, the amounts of photography books I still have to read are embarrassing :)

    • Allison Jacobs - Contributor
      February 1, 2013 at 10:46 PM

      Thanks Katrina! Every time I want to buy a new book I have to remind myself that I haven’t finished the stack of books that I already own! :D

  • Tina Carlson
    February 1, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Living in central Wisconsin can be pretty tough and ever changing. This week was one of those weeks. It had not snowed in quite awhile and so the snow we had was gray and yucky…no interest in photographing that! But then Tuesday morning we had “thick as pea soup” fog and it made for an interesting morning of shooting in the mist and gray…I got a couple of pretty exciting pics out of it. But then the next day…12 inches of beautiful snow! That was a the most fun I have had as a “newbie” photographer for photographing everything from snowflakes, birds, dripping branches and golden retrievers frolicking in the snow!…but now, and the rest of this week, -30 with the wind chill…that means playing with my new macro lens inside the house!

    • Allison Jacobs - Contributor
      February 1, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      I bet the weather can be challenging in Wisconsin, especially in the winter, but it sounds like you had the chance to photograph some beautiful scenes this week!

  • February 2, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    Awesome tips Allison. I need to check out the MoMa here and catch up on all those photography books I’ve started but haven’t finished.

  • Cristin
    February 2, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    I am SO glad to see this blog post, especially after being in tears the last couple of days over my lack of photo taking. It’s as if I find my camera repulsive, and my creativity has eluded me. I was going so strong for almost a year, had a few negative experiences, and I just can’t seem to get my mojo back. These are some wonderful fresh ideas. Thank you :)

    • February 2, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Oh, Cristin, I am so sorry to hear about your struggle. <3 Sometimes I find it can be helpful to set the camera down when I need to take a little break too then come back after a few days without pressure. I also find that in the times I feel frustrated about my growth or what I am producing that soon after there is typically a burst of creative energy. I hope you find your inspiration soon!

  • February 2, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Great article Allison! Love the macro! :)

  • Debra
    February 2, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    I also have enjoyed this article. But my heart went out to Cristin. I wanted to speak to her. Perhaps it could help. It is not your camera that is repulsing you, it is just an object, not real. How you feel though (repulsive) is real. Thinking that what ever the negative experiences you had are still bringing about that strong negative, repulsive feeling. So when I read your post I thought this lady has to remember the fun she had. Remember how creative you were! Perhaps take a drive to a different area and just snap away. Dont think, as much as feel. I sure do hope your “mojo” comes back very soon! <3

    • February 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Debra, you are so sweet to reply to reply to Cristin! <3 It can be easy to forget the fun of photography when we get caught up in the learning. Thank you for your suggestions to her for finding that creativity & fun again!

  • February 5, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    These are great suggestions!! We have beautiful snow here! But with a one month old I find it hard to photograph anything but her. Which is good. And bad

    • February 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Oh yes, Tara, if I had a one month old then I would have trouble photography other things too! :D Enjoy all those baby moments and snap away!

  • February 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing these tips! I’ve missed shooting the past few weeks (no thanks to the dreary weather we’ve been getting), and can’t wait to try these out to get out of my rut!

    • February 7, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      I am glad you enjoyed it Lauren! You can produce beautiful images even in the dreary weather so I hope your rut ends soon!

  • July 3, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Thank you for the tips. I love the photo of the flower. It gives me some inspiration as well.

  • November 24, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    Oh those dreary days! We’re having just that kind if day today. I love experimenting with off camera flash! It’s a tricky technique and these shorter days can be perfect for practice! I just did a senior session and concluded it by using off camera flash! Seriously some of the best shots were from using off camera!

    • November 24, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      Off camera flash is such a great idea for these shorter winter days! I bet your session was great! :D

  • November 24, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    I am enjoying working with off camera flash lately! It’s a great way to make the most if the shorter days! I just had a senior session in which I used off camera, and we got some great images!

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