6 Ways to Fix your Photo Funk

Discouragement, fear, demotivation, I’ve discussed these way too much at this point here (I promise I’ll write about something else soon). But no matter how many posts I write (which end up being extensions of lectures I’ve given myself) about forgetting the world and creating for yourself, there is always more to say.

I am very good at not taking pictures. I’ll have tons of ideas itching at my brain, the supplies to make each one and absolutely no motivation. Whether stress, general creative discouragement, or a world of other thoughts in my head, sometimes I just can’t bring myself to create. The problem there, is that then I mentally beat myself up for not making photos and the cycle continues.

A photo funk is a mood. It’s when you’re stuck. You want to create but have no ideas, inspiration or motivation. Maybe you’ve tried to create and nothing has come together right. Regardless of why, you’re in this photo purgatory.

If you’ve ever felt this way, trust me, I know it sucks. So here, I thought I’d compile some ways that have helped me in the past, which I hope will prove useful for you as well.

  1. Just shoot.

Grab your camera and some toys, go outside, to your studio, or other favorite shooting space, try some poses, find some good lighting and shoot. Create a study of a figure, taking as many different macro shots of the same toy as you can. Or make up a silly little story as you go, whether it will truly come across in your photos or not, and shoot a few images to illustrate that story. Even if you’re just sitting on your couch, or laying on your bed, just get yourself shooting, that’s all that matters. Once you start clicking away, motivation for less impromptu shoots will start to come.

  1. Find a challenge to join in on.

The internet is full of photo challenges, and challenges can be good for multiple reasons. One, sometimes the topic itself will strike the perfect photo idea. Two, having a deadline, for some people can be super motivational – if nothing else it gets you shooting right now. The Toy Photographer’s community on Google + hosts monthly challenge themes, you can also join in on the monthly Raptor Pack Day, get a book of photo challenges, check out this blog event listing, the list goes on. Find one or more that speak to you and get to shooting.

  1. Peruse other people’s art.

Make sure you know yourself before selecting this option. While viewing the work of others can be so motivational and eye opening, it can also be discouraging if you tend to compare yourself to others.

  1. Read an art book.

If you like to read, pick up a book and get to it. Immersing yourself in thoughts of creativity without actually being creative can get so many ideas flowing. Make sure to have a note taking device nearby in case you start to overflow with photo thoughts.

  1. Participate in pop culture or other form of entertainment.

Watch your favorite TV show again, watch a new movie, go see a play, listen to music, read a novel. Inspiration can be found everywhere and in everything. And whether you shoot franchise figures or not, the narratives and visuals in various types of entertainment can be just the key to sparking new ideas.

  1. Get out of your head, stop thinking about photos and fully immerse yourself in something else for a while.

Sometimes you’ve just thought yourself into a wall. You’re trying so hard that there’s no way a new idea is going to come. All your muses have floated away. So if you can, stop. Go somewhere, meet up with someone, go out in nature, and don’t bring your camera. Choose an activity you can fully immerse yourself in. Sometimes letting the problem sit on the back burner while you have some me time is the best medicine. Once your brain has had some time to relax, the creative ideas will flow more smoothly.


#5 seems to be the method that works for me most often. Pushing myself to further develop my current photo ideas while my favorite Pandora station plays in the background can get me pretty pumped. If that’s not enough, visiting a  museum or seeing a play can be just the creative aura that gets my creative juices flowing.

What are ways you’ve successfully emerged from a photo funk?

Jennifer Nichole Wells

Growing little worlds

A strolling Brett gathers mo moss

“Growing little worlds” sounds like a cheesy song title, but it’s a way to create little living habitats for toys to roam.

I was intrigued to see Luigi’s ‘Killer Score’ and ‘The Are Not The Droids’ setups, in particular the scale, or lack of, that he utilised to create these shots.

It was interesting to read Shelly’s post on the outdoors being studios. I especially liked reading that Kristina had shown Shelly that you ‘can do a lot with very little’. Continue reading Growing little worlds

How and when did you find your photographic expression?

How does a photographer find their own photographic expression? Have you ever wondered? I often wonder if or when I’ll ever find or be content with mine. I often feel that I’m in search of my own expression, or for the right expression. This search has gotten me to see that there is some advice that I believe has helped me to define my style… Continue reading How and when did you find your photographic expression?

The dream is free   

If you’re only taking photos for fun, this post is not for you. If you’re happy sharing your images to social media, this post is not for you. If photography is your creative release from the drudgery of day-to-day life, then this post is definitely not for you.

But…maybe your like me and you’re driven to take your work farther. Continue reading The dream is free   

Behind the scenes of “These are not the droids…”

Another photo which I created for the Stuck in Plastic Star Wars contest is “These are not the droids we are looking for” and you can easily understand why I titled it that. What? Wait a minute? Haven’t I just written that I tried something different from my usual Benny and Mr. Robot adventures? Well, that isn’t exactly 100% true, as you can see here. I woke up one morning with this idea in my mind and I couldn’t help but take this photo. I kept chuckling. 🙂 Continue reading Behind the scenes of “These are not the droids…”

Studios can be outdoors too!

Did you know studios can be outdoors too? We’ve all seen amazing behind the scenes glimpses of indoor studios, but until recently it hadn’t occurred me to do the same outdoors. Duh! Right?

Let me back track a few months to that time last fall when I visited Kristina in Sweden. Part of our adventuring was to visit all the places that she takes her amazing photos. If you were to visit me, this would take days since I’m prone to driving 60 minutes and hiking another hour to get to a perfect spot near my favorite mountain steam. Kristina showed me that this isn’t necessary.

Continue reading Studios can be outdoors too!

A Behind the Scenes look at “Killer Score”

This is the first of three photos I took for the Stuck in Plastic Star Wars contest two month ago. The title is “Killer Score” and I was playing with the bounty hunter nature of IG-88. He was probably thinking: “I’m gonna get you, damn Han Solo! Just let me unlock the multiballs!” None of these photos were chosen but Star Wars LEGOgraphy is not exactly my thing; there are many, many photographers out there much better than I. Continue reading A Behind the Scenes look at “Killer Score”

Color vs. Monotone

Black and White photography, two simple colors, sounds easy enough – right?  The color guys, now they are the ones that have it rough.  CMYK, RGB, HEX – the acronyms alone are enough to drive a photographer mad!  Hell, you can write a Masters-Thesis on color….so why not take the easy road and stick with one basic tone?!   Continue reading Color vs. Monotone

Leveling Up With LEGO

Shooting LEGO minifigs is like a game for me, a quest to improve my photography. I invent personas for these iconic plastic toys, build MOCs for them and create worlds around them. With each photo, I rack up experience points, trying to level up my photography. With each new level achieved, I unlock a new skill: shot setups get more creative, shooting becomes more intuitive, editing goes faster. It’s a fun game, this open-ended free roam game of LEGO photography, and I intend to become a powerful wizard. Continue reading Leveling Up With LEGO

Outdoor toy photography with intention

I like to create photos like some people like to cook – a little of this, a dash of that, stir the pot and then see what comes out of the oven. While outdoor toy photography definitely has a chance effect about it, similar to experimenting in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean that outdoor photographers, like myself, aren’t crafting our photos with the same attention to detail as all  photographers. Continue reading Outdoor toy photography with intention