the photos in this post have little to do with food. they have a lot to do with feeding my soul and stepping outside of things, in an effort to bring something new to my food photography. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed taking them.
I love photographing food, obviously. I find it hugely challenging and it’s probably the one single “genre”, if you will, of photography that’s greatly improved my technical proficiency.
But, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m struggling lately. Relearning my camera and lenses, feeling in a rut, not finding much to inspire me… and just feeling bleah. Nothing is feeding my soul so to speak. hehe.
I think we’ve all fallen into that rut with our blogs at times – no matter what our subject matter. Everything feels forced, nothing feels fresh. Photography is no different. Food photography can be especially tough, even if you’ve found your own voice because… well… let’s face it: there are days where the sound of your own voice drives even you crazy.
But what to do? You know you’re churning out the same shot, different ingredients. You do it because it’s fast and you know it will be, if not an inspiring photo, at least a capable, decent photo.
Trust me, I know the inner dialogue that goes on in your head:
I did that last time. I guess I could move everything to the right this time. I could use a herb twig instead of a piece of garlic. I could try a different spot in the kitchen. Oh, but this spot works so well… but still, it would be different. But what if it doesn’t work? Then I have to start over. Hmmm… the food’s getting cold. And I’m hungry… and well… you know what? I’m just going to shoot it where I always do. Then it will be done and I can get this damn post written…
Yeah, there’s a lot of joy and inspiration going on there isn’t there??
Nobody has creativity streaming out of their pores 24hrs a day. Nobody. Feeling in a rut and uninspired is a completely normal part of the process.
I make my living being creative. I can honestly say, being creative on demand is terrifying sometimes. It’s easy to get bogged down by day to day routine. But, when you rely on your creativity to pay your bills, you have to learn some tricks to keep the juices flowing. I thought I would share some of mine as well as a couple of projects I’m working on to get my photography back on track.
They all require one thing: Stepping Outside of Your Box
1. Go Out
Yes, literally step outside of your box. Get up from the computer and go out of your house/office. Do something completely unrelated to your blog. Turn off your phone or your iPod. You don’t need to tweet or facebook about it – they’re distractions. Lose yourself in the experience – let it just be your mind and the action you’re undertaking. Take in the different sites, sounds, smells, even tastes. Photograph anything but food.
2. Spend Time With Mother Nature
That woman is the ultimate in creativity. She comes up with the most amazing colour palettes, juxtapositions, lighting effects, you name it. Pay attention. Go sit in a field, under a tree, by a lake, in a park and study what she’s done in your little corner. Don’t just look at the obvious, like sunsets. I remember hearing a designer says she got the inspiration for a room palette from looking at an artichoke sitting on her kitchen counter.
3. Creativity Begets Creativity
I have a membership to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It costs me $60 a year. Best. Investment. Ever. Nothing like looking at the works of other massively creative and talented people to get your juices flowing. And no, I don’t just look at the photography exhibits although the Fred Herzog exhibit they did a few years ago got me so fired up it was ridiculous.
4. Partner Up
Have any creative friends? Spend time with them, look at their work. They don’t have to be artistes. I have a friend who scrapbooks. I don’t but I love looking at her layouts just for ideas. Talk about what you’re trying to do with them. Sometimes talking and tossing ideas around gets your mind loose. Often, they’ll have a different take on something, especially when they work in a different medium.
5. Personal Projects
Yeah, you can argue a blog is a personal project but when you do it every day and take it as seriously as you might take a job, you may need something else.
Moving gets blood flowing which is always a good thing. I like to walk or run on my own – it allows my mind to wander and things start to flow.
7. Find Water
This might sound crazy to some of you and may not work for anyone but me but here goes: I find anything that involves water gets my mind going. It can be as obvious as going for a walk at the beach. Peaceful calm seas and storm crashing ocean waves both work – usually with different results. But it also works with washing dishes by hand, watering my garden, and having a long shower.
8. Force Yourself
Force yourself to do something new specifically with your food photography. It might be as easy as choosing to take some time to yourself outside of mealtimes and allowing yourself to play. Maybe use uncooked food – fresh fruits or vegetables, raw ingredients, candy, and play with composition, backgrounds, locations. At some point, you need to make the time and force yourself outside your zone.
So what have I been doing, specific to my food photography?
Relearning my camera and lenses – and a big part of that is actually removing myself from photographing food. I’ve been taking the new camera everywhere, trying some things I’ve always thought about but never done because I thought others would find them boring. (another tip – stop doing what you think others want to see). Spending time in other environments makes me feel renewed and more willing to experiment.
Project 30 I’ve decided to do a 30 day project with only my iPad. One of the things I was always a bit jealous of my iPhone loving friends was their access to Instagram and Hipstamatic. Blackberry has nothing comparable. Now with my iPad I get the same fun toys! I’ve been having fun trying to find really creative ways to use them – ways that the cool post processing flavours you can add enhance rather than become the photo. (in other words, I have to shoot something cool first.)
I might extend it to a 365 project if the mood strikes me but for now I’m having a lot of fun! And I’m actually shooting some food with it and loving the results.
I have a few other things on the go as well but I don’t need to bore you all with all of them 😉
The point I’m trying to make is, if you’re struggling, go try something different, away from food and see what it brings to your food – whether you cook it or photograph it. Different colour palettes, light play, positioning – all of them might tweak an idea and send you off in a new direction. Look at new and even every day experiences as opportunities to be inspired!