Undertaking a photographic project can help us define and clarify what we are trying to communicate through our photography.  If we have an idea, we can research it, brainstorm around the issues, understand the contexts, get to know the history, and define the questions and problems.  And then we can do visual research, and begin to consider what a finished piece of work may look like, perhaps using a workbook both to record the evolution of the project and as a useful reference tool for reflection and key decision-making.

The trick is to know what our ideas are to begin with.  Sometimes I find I have no inspiration, no fresh thoughts, just a blank greyness flooding the mind.  That can feel frustrating and this time of year doesn’t seem to help.  So what can we do to trigger our creativity?  Here’s just five random thoughts:

  1. It probably helps to be in touch with who we are and how we’re feeling.  Mindfulness meditation has its benefits, and I think this video by Professor Mark Williams is useful:      http://oxfordmindfulness.org/learn/resources/#brspace
  2. Sometimes not worrying about our lack of ideas & plans, and just following our instincts and spontaneity with the camera can throw up all sorts of new possibilities.  Just getting out there and doing some shooting can be like a breath of fresh air.  The results may be a pointer of what we’re really interested in, what floats our boat.
  3. It’s easy to overlook the importance of reflecting on past work.  New lines of thought may come as we do this.  As a challenge, how about brainstorming previous images to see how many new projects we can create with the material we already have?  This may seem like working backwards, but it’s worth a go and can kick-start fresh ideas.
  4. Having disciplines and deadlines help focus the mind.  Doing short discrete projects with a clear start and finish and with a limited timeframe can help, especially if we feel we’re getting bogged down. We could make a diary note of competition deadlines and try to submit work.  We could make a point of getting to those exhibitions that really interest us to listen to what is speaking to us there.
  5. Talking to others, finding support and receiving feedback & encouragement is also important.  I find being part of a monthly critical assessment with others is useful, for instance with LIP (http://www.londonphotography.org.uk/satellites/).  At the Gate we aim to build a supportive environment and we’re fortunate to have artist development opportunities like ZAP in our building (http://www.zeitgeistartsprojects.com/index.html).