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


  1. You keep writing these wonderful posts that somehow manage to describe exactly how I’m feeling better than I can express it myself. Thank you for putting this into words and making me realize that I’m not alone 🙂 All of your ideas are wonderful! I tend to have trouble with #2 (challenges) because they feel like pressure, even if they aren’t meant to be…. I tend to do #5 quite often. Today though I gave up on photos (I’d been trying all week to take photos without any success) and went to the movies with my husband. It was a nice break!

    Thank you again for these posts. I truly enjoy reading them 🙂


    • Thank you so much. I’m glad to hear you get this way too – in a were in this together sort of way, I of course wish we could all bring ourselves to create all the time. The movies sound like a wonderful break. And yea, challenges and then looking at other people’s work can get to me too, but sometimes they’re just what I need. I guess it all depends on just where I am on my downward spiral. So how’s your funk? Did the movies break you out of it? Or is some more away time necessary?

      • The movies definitely helped and I actually felt like editing a photo last night. I still haven’t taken any new photos for awhile. I’m about to get busy with work, so I’ll end up with a break anyway. Hopefully the distraction will help and I’ll get back to taking photos in July 🙂


  2. This certainly resonates, Jennifer! Of all the ways you point out, I like nos. 4 and 5 the best – and fully agree – because they describe ways of just looking beyond your nose. Or, as I once wrote it down for myself: You have to look outside the box if you want to start thinking outside the box.

    I have become increasingly aware of one thing lately: Looking at art is not just about contemplating the artifacts, and much less about liking them – it is about what it does to/with your head. Hence if somebody asks me if this or that exhibition (like the current documenta in Kassel) is worth a visit, I tend to say: Absolutely! I did not like too many of the exhibits, but it was good to have been immersed into that stuff…

    And the TV shows and the movies? They are so full of pictures!

    • Thank you. I completely agree with your sentiments on looking at art. As with anything that inspires us, I think it’s interesting to consider why. Discovering little bits about why we’re drawn to certain things, or how certain art resonates with us, can reveal a lot about each of us personally and open up new ways to show that through the art we create.

  3. Jennifer this is a great post. You have some great actionable ideas to help any creative get out of a slump. I would add that hobbies and side projects are a great way to feed your creativity. This might sound weird, because for many of us, this is the side project. But if you love music, reading, outdoor activities, other types of creativity…these are all opportunities to keep the energy moving. Also I would say look beyond pop culture for ideas. Look to mythology, other books and the classics too. A lot of inspiration can be found by takin universal tales and creating something new from them. You just have to look to George Lucas and the original Star Wars trilogy – it is a step by step retelling of the “heroes tale” theory developed by Joseph Campbell. Inspiration is out there, you just have to be open. If all else fails, take some time off and let your creative well refill on its own.

    Thanks for a great article!!

    • I completely agree Shelly and thank you. As for other forms of entertainment I personally love live plays, classic novels and Greek mythology. Some of the work I’ve created that remains near to my heart, is inspired by books that have shaped me in some way.

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