Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. We feel lethargic and uninspired. We feel the urge to blow a bunch of money on a new lens or a new camera, in hopes that it would somehow reinvigorate our passions. But what if we already have what we need to overcome photographer’s block? Here are 5 simple experiments to try to expand our photographic horizons.
5. Shoot with Your Least Used Lens
We’ve all been there. A late night Craigslist session, an impulse BUY IT NOW! on eBay, or a well commissioned salesperson at a camera store. We all have lenses that we sparingly use.
Mine used to be the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro. Fantastic lens. Brilliantly sharp. But I’m not gifted with the patience to shoot macrophotography and I also bought it as a portrait lens. I found it to be slightly too long, too slow to use in dim light without stabilization, and too inexpensive to part with. So I kept it. For years. In a closet.
Right now, it’s my Holga 25mm Pinhole lens. Super fun lens. Incredibly inexpensive. However, a plastic meniscus lens at f/8 has limited usability at night or indoors. But rather than dwelling on limitations, a lens’ unique character could force you to think outside the box and be creative.
We first struggled with a mysterious black contraption. Buttons, knobs, and rings plagued us with their abstractness yet intrigued us with their potential. We experimented. We practiced. And eventually, we grasped enough of the basics to take decent photographs.
Then came a point when those buttons, knobs, and rings became intuitive. It became an extension of our own body. We wielded it blindly. We taught others. It was no longer a creative limitation.
Though we could manipulate this black box, we lacked style. We could create enough beautiful images to keep our passion alive, but half the time, our pictures were by accident or we were just at the right place at the right time.
We were determined to get to the next level. We looked outwards. We looked towards the old masters. The Ansel’s and the Annie’s. The Henri’s and the Terry’s. We took what we liked, and transformed them into our own. And we would be praised for what others came up with.