Day 47: Exercises in Creativity

Sometimes we get stuck. We seek out images and think “ho hum. I’ve done this before, seen this before” and this ugly beast in your head starts looking around enviously at all the creative images others are making which only makes your own work look more stuck. So how do we get unstuck? Sometimes the answer is to just set it down and walk away for a while. Come back to it with new eyes. Sometimes it takes a little more… so for today, I have compiled some creative exercises that will hopefully help you out if you find yourself in a creative rut. Some are photography related, others allow you to explore something a bit different but they all are good for waking up the creative part of the brain.

  1. 30 Circles. Have you heard of this? It’s a popular one and there are a few ways of doing it. The first way is to draw inside of as many circles as you can in three minutes then evaluate the results. How many did you create? Do you see a recurring theme? The second way is to choose a theme and give yourself as much time as you need to complete all thirty circles. You can do this as many times as you want with different themes. Download the worksheet here.
  2. Brainstorm. I suppose most people don’t consider this a creative exercise, but I do. When was the last time you had a good brain purge? Pick a problem and write down as many creative solutions as you can. They don’t have to be good, they just have to be creative. Sue Bryce says “if I asked you to walk across the room 15 different ways, you’d jump, crawl, dance, run, walk on your hands.” So do the same thing for your business or photography problems!
  3. Explore a different medium. Instead of photography, sit down with some watercolors and see what comes out. This can be therapeutic and allow you to use the creative part of your brain without expectations.
  4. Try recreating an image you saw. When my mom was in college she took a creative writing class. The teacher had her write in the style of Mark Twain. Then she had her write in the style of Hemingway. Followed by Jane Austen. Then, she said, write a story in your own style. Do the same with photography. Create a photo in the style of Sue Bryce, Joel Grimes, or Jose Villa. Then create one of your own.
  5. Create 20 different photos while standing in one place. Your feet can’t move but your lenses and camera settings can change. Taking away something you’re used to having can help you rely on other aspects. People also do this challenge with being able to move but not being able to switch lenses or limiting the number of frames they’re allowed to take.
  6. You know that concept to shoot what’s been on your mind for a long time? Do it! For a long time I had want to go out to the river and create a “Lady in the water” type shoot and I finally did it. I absolutely loved seeing it come to life. It was like chicken soup for the Photographer’s soul.
  7. Pick an image and describe it completely. How does the image make you feel? How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see it? Does it remind you of any memories? What sounds, smells, tastes can you associate with the image? Be as absolutely descriptive as possible.
  8. Have lunch with another creative. Maybe they are dull where you shine and vice versa. By sharing what you’re good at and by allowing someone else to share with you what they’re good at, you strengthen each other and build community.

I’d love to hear your favorite creative exercises in the comments down below! Thanks for being here for day 47! I’ll see you tomorrow for 48: 5 of the best movies for creatives.

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!¬† If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris