Tips to spark your creativity while working full time
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Tips to spark your creativity while working full time

It can be a challenge to work full time and still find ways to stretch yourself as a photographer including finding ways to be creative.  There are a few things I do to try to challenge myself so I know I am growing my skills and pushing myself creatively while I work a full time job outside of the home.

  • No.
    01
    Pick a new technique to learn.

    I read about using intentional camera movement for a dramatic effect in The Visual Toolbox (when it was available in an ebook) and kept thinking I needed to wait until I found the right place or the right time.  But, realized that there wasn’t anything stopping me from just heading to the backyard and giving it a try. 

    I was surprised at how much fun I had and how much I liked the results.  The practice in the backyard led me to be more confident with this technique when I tried it other places like the street & the beach.  The best part about trying a new technique is that after some practice you can either add it to the techniques that become part of your style or move on to something new.  But learning a new technique will always help you grow as a photographer.

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  • No.
    02
    Look for a variety of subjects to shoot.

    When I originally started to learn more & more about photography, especially the technical aspects of it, people (mostly family & gracious friends) were my main subjects.  But, after a while I found myself looking for other subjects to shoot.  After a long day at work (and school for my son) I didn’t always want to try to convince him to sit for me while I figured out some new technique.  This is one reason I turned to food and still life (like flowers and other objects around the house but mostly food). 

    I could plan a food session ahead of time right down to all the details including props, lighting, location and best of all that kind of practice didn’t depend on anyone’s cooperation.  You can even practice your food photography skills after dark like Trisha shows in her Food Photography Post.  One book I found super helpful when I was starting out with food was Plate to Pixel because she goes through it all (gear, props, shooting, editing) which is perfect for someone beginning with food photography.

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  • No.
    03
    Plan to attend local photographer meetups for the weekends.

    Check out local photographer meetups in your area and try to find people with an interest in photography so you have activities to look forward to during the work week.  I have attended a few photo walks and met up with local photographers for coffee just to chat about photography.  It can be so refreshing to find friends who want to chat non-stop about gear, settings, shooting, and all things photography related.  When I know I have a meetup scheduled it gives me something to be excited about during the long work days. 

    Photowalks can be fun & they can be a great way to expand your skills.  It’s always cool to see how someone else approaches shooting a certain place (or thing or person).  When you are with people in this kind of setting you can ask about their gear, their setting choices, etc and learn from others.  You might even meet someone who becomes a friend or someone you can plan shootouts with locally.  Photowalks also give you a unique way to see parts of the city where you live.  The first image below is from a meetup with a local photographer & the second image is from a photowalk.

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  • No.
    04
    Experiment

    This could fit in with the 1st tip, try a new technique, but I see it as a little different.  I experiment a lot with photography.  I don’t post everything I try online, I don’t even always edit or keep everything I try.  But, I have learned a ton just by experimenting.  I have experimented with subjects (people, food, places) and some of it works and some of it doesn’t work yet I learn from it all. 

    I have learned about light and camera settings and about my personal preferences (my style) from simply experimenting.  It is one thing to read about how to create a certain kind of image, let’s take shooting in backlight for example, and it is a completely different thing to actually get out there with your camera and experiment.  Once you upload to the computer you can review the images and see what you can do differently the next time to improve.  I have asked my son to stand in the backyard and shot a portrait from all angles as I walked around him just to see how the light falls on his face.  Then when I upload to the computer I can see which type of lighting helps enhance my vision for the portrait…dark & moody or light & airy.

Do you work full time? How do you boost your creativity?

12 Comments
  • Rubi
    March 27, 2015 at 12:05 PM

    Sometimes it can be so hard to find the time and inspiration to pick up a camera after work. Every now and then I just set around 5 hours aside to go out and just take photos of anything. It can be so relaxing to just not think about anything else that inspiration just comes to you.
    Rubi | The Den | http://www.the-den.blogspot.com

  • Brennan
    March 27, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    You are so inspiring!! Love this article!

  • Julie
    March 27, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    I recently started a basic course in photography and fime time to practice with a full time job was finding it really difficult. Now you gave me more options. Thank you so much. Greetings from Nicaragua.

  • Cheri
    March 27, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Love the fact that you experiment and honestly share you don’t keep everything you shoot. Experimenting means just that..,.it might work, it might not; but heck if it does, its likely pretty darn good!!

  • Shelly
    March 28, 2015 at 1:28 PM

    Great article, great ideas. Thanks for sharing with us ! Always looking for new ideas! Off to grab my camera…..

  • Chanel
    March 29, 2015 at 2:17 AM

    I also find it hard to feel creative sometimes after a full day of work, and I’m glad I’m not alone! I swear I thought it was just me. I’m in the midst of a 365 project and sometimes I come home from 8+ hours of work don’t feel inspired to pick up my camera. But I’m definitely going to give some of these tips a try, especially #1. Enjoyed reading this post!

  • Mandy
    March 31, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    Great tips! I needed this article today. Whew. A long winter, a move & just the daily tasks of being wife + Mommy of 2 have all sapped my creativity. I’m taking a Clickin’ Moms course to help get me out of my rut.

    Can I add one more? Never let yourself feel guilty for taking those minutes with your camera to recharge your sparkle.

  • Polly
    April 1, 2015 at 5:49 PM

    I was at a team gymnastics event, taking the obligatory action shots when I looked down and saw all of the cute toes when our girls lined up to listen to the coach. It reminded me that even though they are athletes, they are still our little girls, with those cute little girl feet. It turned out to be one of my favorite shots and is now being used on the gym website.

    I also like the behind the scenes shots when they are having a good time and laughing with each other between events. Again, reminds us that even though they are fierce competitors, they are girls at heart.

    Looking at an event from a different perspective can help with creativity.

  • Hailey
    April 1, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    I have gotten lots of great ideas for different daily challenges and especially direction on content for photos to try new techniques instead of always shooting what you gravitate towards, but I was wondering if there is a content generator that you know of? Something like an email that would show up in your inbox and suggest content to photograph that day? Much like a word of the day.

    Thanks for all the ideas and inspiration!

    Hailey

  • Helen
    April 2, 2015 at 3:00 PM

    I work full-time. I am a member of a Club.
    It helps especially with motivation, ideas.
    It is practice i believe is my key.
    I truly have a passion for black & white
    Photography.
    I have enjoyed reading your ideas.
    Thank you Helen

  • Ed C
    April 2, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    Great stuff. I love landscape photography after having shot weddings for years but now I need to break out of that and move on to more things. I find that workshops help a lot. You meet interesting people and can converse about gear, techniques, etc. Field trips help too.

  • Tanya Roscorla
    April 3, 2015 at 11:10 PM

    I take my camera bag and tripod with me to work so I can take photos of God’s beautiful creation on my morning walk or lunch break. The key for me is to build photography into something I’m already doing and then occasionally take photos somewhere else on my way home from work.

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