Five Photography Exercises That Will Keep You Inspired

Photo by Lydz Leow

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s a cold. Maybe it’s something from your personal life. But something’s got you feeling uninspired today. You just don’t want to make.

But artists don’t always have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to arrive at their doorstep. Sometimes you need a challenge or exercise to help you stay disciplined with your craft and see things in a new light.

Try these exercises for when you’re feeling particularly uninspired. Choose one that speaks to your today, or go through them for an extra challenge.

  1. Chameleon

Great artists steal. So mimic your idols.

Head to some of your favorite Instagram photography accounts, or look through the internet to find an artist whose style appeals to you. Your challenge for the day? Shoot like this photographer.

Create a shot that could pass as one of theirs – in subject matter, composition, lighting, and technique. Imitate them.

In the process of trying to emulate them, you’ll bring your own spin. You’ll never perfectly mimic them, but by trying to copying others, we stretch ourselves. Even if the final product doesn’t match your aesthetic (spoiler: it likely won’t), the exercise will help inspire you by achieving a shot unlike your own that is your own.

  1. Worst Photo Ever

Take your equipment out with the goal to create the worst photo ever.

Blurry, unclear, poorly framed. Take the worst photo ever.

Take the worst ten photos in the whole of your photography career.

By giving yourself the freedom to create “bad” photos, you will be able to shoot free from judgment. Without requiring each picture to be perfect, you’ll have the liberty actually to create.

Plus, you might surprise yourself because even in this terrible photos, you might find something beautiful.

  1. Alphabet

When you’re feeling uninspired, the constraint can bread creativity. Set out to take 26 photos inspired by each letter of the alphabet.

You might find an object that starts with the letter “A” or an image that looks like a letter A, or an image that has the energy of an “A.” Whatever inspires you.

Start with A, then move on to B, and work through the entire alphabet.

Feel free to let your approach change and morph during the experiment – perhaps you find some of the letters represented in the wild – on signs, or posts – and other letters are unexpected. The only expectation is that you end the shoot with 26 photographs.

  1. Black and White

Spend a day shooting as they did in the past: in only black and white. No matter how vibrant the colors around you, limit yourself to only black and white photography for the day.

Without the use of color, your focus and attention will shift to focus on shapes, lines, and the contrast between lights and shadows. By eliminating the colors around you, you’ll hone and strengthen your skills to notice and refine.

  1. Twenty Steps

Begin walking with your equipment and take a predetermined number of steps. It can be any number depending on where you are but decide before you embark what that number is. Let’s say 20.

When you reach that number, stop.

Take a picture.

You can rotate left, right, look up, look down. But freeze on that step and find a perfect shot in the world around you.

Go for another twenty steps and do the same. Continue this staggered journey until you’ve collected a photo journal of the world around you.

Less gives you more

Every artist feels uninspired – writers encounter writer’s block, and photographers can face the same creative barriers. The key is to push through the lack of inspiration. These exercises provide a challenge that can reawaken the creative spirit within. It seems counter-intuitive that by taking away possibilities – color, styles, alphabetical limits – you’ll open up doors to find more and more inspiration in the world around you.

Once you find an exercise that reinvigorates you, keep it in your artist toolbelt to fight artistic block when it arises. Even better: come up with five challenges of your own to use the next time you’re feeling less than your full creative self. By planning for the less-than-ideal days, you can keep your momentum and spirit high for your next project.

What are some exercises you practice to stay inspired with photography? Share with us in the comments below.