going through a creative funk as a portrait photographer

Getting Through the Creative Funk

For the past two years, I’ve worked very hard at first creating a Uniquely Different Style of Composite Photography, then building that Unique Style into a sustainable business. Through it all, I have been focused and relentless in going from nothing to something, and as I start year three on this journey, I have found myself in a Creative Funk for the first time.

That’s why I want to share my Funky Creative Fun with you, and how I’m going about reigniting that Creative Spark once again.

Being in a “Funk” isn’t partial to the Creative Mind, as athletes, entrepreneurs, and just about everybody will go through a “Funk” at some time or another, but when it happens to a Creative who makes their living from their Creativity, it can become quite worrisome.

I would like to share a couple of things I do to get through a Creative Funk and some of the benefits of going through the Funk.

Take a deep breath, and let’s De-Funk the Funky.

What is the Funk?

I’m sure the “Funk” can mean different things to different people, but the best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re in a Creative Rut. This rut is hard to get out of, stifles Creativity, and can lead to depression when it overstays its welcome.

Writers may call this Funky Rut, “Writer’s Block”.

As a Photographer, this Creative Funk leads to an inability to come up with fresh ideas, Create new images, and can result in a serious questioning of one’s place in the Photographic world.

Being in a Creative Funk myself, I have found myself questioning my abilities as a Photographer, worrying that I have no more new Creative Ideas, and depressed with my lack of direction.

The Creative Funk Truth

It’s easy to get caught up in the misconceptions of questioning your Photographic abilities, Creative Ideas, and worrying about your ability to ever Create something interesting again, but going through a Creative Funk is completely natural.

Creativity requires a crap load of Energy.

Anything requiring a great deal of FOCUS, and Creativity requires an unbelievable amount of Focus, expends a crap load of energy, and unless you’re super human in some freakish way, you will need time to rest.

A Creative Funk is your time to Rest.

There’s a reason why pro football, pro baseball, and pro cyclists all have seasons, and why bands go on tours; it’s because performing at such an elite level can’t be sustained throughout the year, year after year.

Being an Elite Photographer isn’t any different.

Unlike Pro Athletes and Famous Bands, as an Elite Photographer, you don’t typically have the luxury to have a season and are required to be on throughout the entire year.

And as hard and long as you push, and as much as you try to avoid the Creative Funk, you will at some point go through it because your brain and your body will need to recover.

Overcoming the Creative Funk

I don’t know about you, but I hate going through any Creative Funk, so when it happens, I fight like hell to avoid it or not let it affect me. I have found, however, this tactic of dealing with the Funk results in a great deal of frustration, which in turn prolongs my stay in the rut.

I think it’s the Universe reminding me who’s in control here.

If you’ve gone through this yourself, you probably know what I’m talking about, so I’d like to share the two things I do to get through my Creative Funk.

#1 Create Simple: I have found one of the BEST things to do when I find myself in a Creative Funk is to go back to the basics. Being a Dallas Photographer who creates large scale Composites, requiring many different images like those in my Signature Series Portraits, Creating Simple means I do something like an Editorial Portrait requiring only a few images.

Creating Simple means going back to the basics of composition, lighting, and editing and focusing on how each of these elements work together to make you images better.

Ask yourself how you can improve at lighting, or how you can make your compositions better, and don’t worry about what the final image looks like.

#2 Ride Out the Funk: While Creating Simple works most of the time, you will go through a Creative Funk where you can’t even pick up a camera or open your Photoshop software. No amount of composition and lighting will help, and frustration on a major level will set in.

If Creating Simple doesn’t work, then the best thing you can do is Ride Out the Funk.

In this case, fighting the Funk will only prolong your inability to Create and get back on track with your Photography business, and the fastest way to get through it is just to ride it out and focus on something completely different than Photography.

The Benefits of the Creative Funk

Being a Composite Photographer who makes a living from Uniquely Different Portraits of Uniquely Different People, I find myself getting bored with my Creativeness, which means my Portraits begin to look all the same to me.

For me, going through a Creative Funk kind of shakes me out of this rut to try new and different things.

Every time I’ve come out of a Creative Funk, I’ve found my work substantially improves either Creatively or Technically, which inspires me to Create more.

Going through a Creative Funk is a lot like sleeping at night and when you wake up, you feel energized and refreshed. Ready to take on your day and make great things happen.

That’s a Wrap

Coming out of a Creative Funk myself now, I thought I would share some perspectives I’ve been thinking about and how I manage the inevitable circumstance of the Creative Funk.

To clarify, I don’t like going through the Creative Funk, I first fight the Funk, then Create Simple, and when that doesn’t work, I ride the Funk out, coming out the other end a better Composite Photographer than when I started.

What’s your Experience with going through a Creative Funk, and what have you done to get through it?

Comments (2)

Creative Funks in my opinion are always a necessity at some point. Balance in the right side of your brain requires tripping and stumbling once in a while.

Great perspective Jeff and I 100% agree. Growth happens within the Funk.

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