How do you stay creative…

How do you stay creative in a world that feels like it’s falling apart? Maybe a better question is: how can you not stay creative?

It’s easy to be creative when there are no pressing world issues and your life is stress fee. Who hasn’t felt a sense of positivity and calm that makes it easy to be creative? I’m sure you’ve also experienced that it’s much harder to be inspired when you’re feeling stressed and are distracted by the large issues that dominate the news cycle. But did you know that you can actually combat stress by being creative?

Yup, by staying productive, by embracing your creative side, you can actually relieve stress. By engaging in creative work you can take your mind off what’s causing you to worry and help you focus on activities that bring you pleasure. This creativity can take the form of journaling, drawing and coloring, working with wood, gardening and especially toy photography.

The act of creating, of expressing yourself, can help to put the world in perspective.

So even though it seems counter productive, we here at The Toy Photographers Blog will continue to espouse our craft. We want to stimulate your creativity with interesting posts about the photographic process. We want to continue to inspire you to be your creative best.

I’m not saying that the images that I will be creating won’t be coming  from a darker place. How could they not? These darker images are a way for me to express my own fears and worries. I’ve promised myself that I will balance those darker images with images that are lighter. I play with LEGO, so it can’t ALL be doom and gloom!

Everything is better with friends!

It’s been two weeks since we entered Bizzaro World, but around here, for better or for worse, it will be business as usual. We will continue to be creative, we will continue to share our creative paths and we will ask you to share yours. No matter what the future holds, we can’t stop being creative.


How do you manage stress? Do you find that being creative helps you to channel your feelings? 



  1. Dear Shelly!
    I thought about the question of darkness and creativity and I’m so glad you wrote about it! Your post is very interesting and useful, there are so many things to discuss !

    “…it’s much harder to be inspired when you’re feeling stressed”… – As for the news and the difficulties that are coming from mass media, of course they always have a negative impact on the mind and the creativity and I totally agree with you.
    But in my opinion, there are different kinds of ‘darkness’ and their influence isn’t always negative! 🙂
    I’d like to tell about the literal darkness … the bad weather during a very long time. The last year was rather gloomy in our city and I wanted more sun every day. The weather seemed really grey and dull and then I realized that… all my shots for this period were surprisingly bright and colorful! I can’t remember the lack of inspiration, for example, that differentiated this period from another one , but it added even more colors in the palette of the photography! It’s an interesting discovery for me. So some kinds of darkness let us find the unexpected compensation and don’t have any bad influence on the human’s energy.
    It would be very interesting for me to know your thoughts about this type of stress. 😉 What do you think?
    Huge thanks for your great post and inspiration, dear friend!
    Kind Regards,

    • Shelly Corbett

      Ann what great story! Thank you for sharing. I think you’re absolutely right, its not that we are facing darkness it is how we are facing the darkness. The darkness can be literal (no light) or figurative (current political climate) – but how we face this darkness will determine our creative outcome. I think that we can be driven by the darkness and create beauty as an antidote as you did. I think be turning the dark, the stress outward into creative output, is the best possible outcome.

      Thank you so much for commenting, I really enjoy hearing your point of view.

      Cheers dear friend and happy weekend to you!

  2. thereeljames

    As always, great post Shelly! I’ve definitely felt it harder to stay creative, or fully enjoy that creativity, in the last few weeks. Somehow, talking about movies on Twitter or taking photos of toy just seems… counter productive? Like I’m focusing on the “wrong” things? I don’t want to come off as insensitive to the issues at large, but at the same time don’t want to devote all of my energy to the “doom and gloom.”

    This post really helped me keep it in perspective. LEGO and toy photography (taking and viewing) can actually be a great escape. OR, it can be a great way to let off steam, as you talked about in your last post. I’m glad to hear that being creative actually relieves stress. I’ve certainly felt that when getting sucked in to taking photos. I think it’ll be very important to keep that in mind in these troubling times 🙂

    • Shelly Corbett

      James, Like you I don’t want to come off as being insensitive to the issues. Im currently staying off of Twitter and FB for personal posts. They seem to be the prime battle grounds (especially twitter) and I don’t feel toy photos has a place there right now. But luckily G+ and IG are going along and I can post there. But even if Im not posting, I am creating. I have more unposted photos from the last few weeks than Ive had for ever. I find thinking about the next photo, trying to figure out the next studio technique and cleaning out my studio are helping to focus my energies in a more productive way. But I think we can both agree its a balancing act. No matter what happens, we have to still create meaningful lives. 🙂

  3. brett_wilson

    Turning off the news and playing with LEGO is a perfect “stress buster”! Sure, battling the elements, photos that don’t live up to expectations and uncooperative Minifigures can raise the stress levels, but not nearly as much as the current Bizzaro state of affairs.
    That’s it!
    This weekend the TV is off and the LEGO is out!

    • Shelly Corbett

      I thought my reference to Bizzaro World was spot on! I would trade the stress of uncooperative mini figures to the shenanigans of the DC crowd any day! I hope you have a fabulous media free weekend and I look forward to hearing all about it on Tuesday! 😀

  4. Great post Shelly. I’ve been struggling with this myself and I’ve definitely taken less photos because of it. I haven’t come up with a great solution yet but I’m trying to limit my time on social media and I’m trying to take photos that cheer me up.

    • Shelly Corbett

      Lynn, I wish I had better answers, but like you Im struggling. I think limiting contact to social media, taking concrete actions in you state and of course taking photos of the mini figures that make you smile. Hang in there and know you’re not alone. 🙂

  5. I am currently in a state of creative bliss. My problem is the drudgeries of life getting in the way of being able to create (not really drudgeries, just other responsibilities, chores, errands… okay, drudgeries!). Shooting for my new client has compelled me to learn new techniques, techniques that best fit the toys and stories I’m trying to tell. I’m having a blast with it. Some of these techniques will make their way into my personal work, so you’ll see it at some point, and it’ll be obvious. And I agree about social media…I recently posted on Facebook that going forward anyone posting for or against our new Pres would promptly be unfriended. Not unfollowed, unfriended – I’d had enough. So far I’ve had to take action twice, and it seems like those 2 individuals contributed about 80% of the negativity in my feed. And I also agree that in comparison, Instagram is like an island of positivity because it’s structured to keep us focused on the things we’re interested in, toy photography for us. So yes, I am concerned about Bizzaro World, but one has to find a way to always get back to that creativity. Kind of like the movie with Christopher Reeves, “Somewhere In Time.” He kept a modern day coin in his pocket during his time travels to remind him of who he was and where he came from in case he ever forgot (that coin kind of doomed him in the end though haha).

    • Shelly Corbett

      Mitch, Its so cool to here that your new client is pushing you in new directions. That is the BEST! I look forward to seeing what you come up with and how this will effect your personal work. I have a better solution for you FB problem – stay off. Life is so much more pleasant without social media. I like the G+ platform since it is interest based follows rather than people centric. So I don’t see anything I don’t want to see. Im more than aware of what is happening in Bizarro World, but I can do it when and how I want. So far I have been doubling down on my creative projects and I feel so much better! Maybe I should keep a lego mini figure in my pocket as a reminder of what’s really important – friends, family and fun. 🙂

      • Well FB is how I keep in touch with family and friends, most who never go onto Instagram, let alone G+. For this purpose it’s great, and for the most part everyone just shares what’s going on in their lives, photos, etc. So this will keep me on FB. In fact, I’ve been slowly culling down my ‘friends’ to the ones that are actually…friends. The more I do this the purer and more pleasant the experience becomes. Facebook is also unavoidable for me because of the photography communities I’m active in there, communities I actually value and find value in.
        So ultimately Facebook fills a need for me that Instagram cannot. I think Facebook can be good, you just have to take control of it and not vice versa.

  6. priovit70

    I totally agree with you, Shelly, and you know why. I came out of my Dark Ages as reaction to my mom’s illness. Dealing with alzheimer, especially in the beginning, put me under a lot of stress. The only way I found to stay afloat was LEGO. You can laugh if you want, but it helped me a lot (obviously my wife and my friends too). And it keeps helping me. The darker the times, the more creative I got,
    just like @miss__feklista wrote. The darker the times, the brighter the colors I used in my MOCs. And now, the funnier my photos. At least, I hope they’re funny… 😉

    • Shelly Corbett

      Luigi, Thank you for sharing your story. Im glad you found such a wonderful outlet for your own sorrow and pain; and what a boon for the rest of us! Yes your stories are funny! I’ve found that Im enjoying being creative, writing, taking photos – whatever. Its so much better than focusing on that which I can’t control. Thanks again Luigi for sharing your story and your lovely photos with us. Shelly xo

    • Shelly Corbett

      Stefan, I know that it seems counter intuitive, but in dark days like these, we need try to continue our creative journeys. The news is depressing, but your creativity can be a welcome distraction. I hope you can find it within yourself to continue taking photographs and that you find the process a healing one. Sending you hugs! Shelly

  7. Stefan K

    Oh, I keep notes of ideas for the days when I am able to take the images. Some days no no. But long live the better days. If it wasn’t for photography I’ll be a braindead zombie, it makes me express myself so I won’t stop 🙂

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