*Avoid the void

spread your wings and fly... away from the computer.

It’s inevitable.  If you look to stay artistically motivated, at some point you’ll come up against some type of creative vacuum.  Writer’s block, a rut, incoherent mumbling to yourself at your desk as you curse uncontrollably at the screen about the online article lauding some Kardashian-like attention hound for “doing” something completely insignificant all while realizing it wouldn’t exist if you weren’t guilty of reading it…  Basically having a hard time motivating yourself creatively all while wasting time with things that won’t really help.  You catch my drift, and if you’ve been at something with any creative license long enough, you’ll be able to relate.  Sometimes going backward can help push you into new territory.  Here’s one thing I do that helps…

Firstly, grab your camera and step away from the computer…  I like a good ol’ fashioned subject case study.  Photographically  speaking anyway.  Take one single solitary subject and look at it from a variety of angles.  Play with light, angle and context.  It can be a flower, a book, a body part, a wine glass, you get the point.  Choose something with enough interest to you to want to spend some quality time just exploring it, lighting it, shooting it.

Use different lenses, different cameras, different exposure settings and shoot away.  You might be surprised at how inspiring the visual exploration of one singular thing can spur ideas and force you to look differently at shooting a variety of subjects all while nurturing ideas for future projects.

I’d love to hear other’s ideas and personal tactics as well as I’m sure to fall back into another creative void sooner or later.

Cheers and happy shooting,


13 thoughts on “*Avoid the void

  1. T,

    I love your inspiration, experience and knowledge you bring to so many of us ‘clickers’. You’re a wealth of knowledge in the real world.

    One small thing I’ve learned that brings a different dimension is to look behind me before and after I shoot a landscape. Sometimes the view, light, composition or subject is totally different from what I had envisioned initially BEFORE the original setup. Sometimes the shot behind me is more appealing and sometimes it has worked out better.

    Keep clicking.
    Danville, CA. USA


    • Awesome Markoe. Thanks. Yes, I think I am certainly guilty of putting blinders on when out and about shooting I’d have to say, focused on my son, looking to capture a particular element, etc. I’ll try to make a concerted effort to pull my head from the camera and really look around me in the future 🙂


  2. Sometimes when weather makes photographing impossible for me, I like to spend time drawing what I would like to take pictures of. This makes me think of perspective, angles, light, story, purpose of photo and subject. It’s kinda like a storyboard. It’s a good way to fill up gaps. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Girl, that means we need to know how to draw! Why do you think I got into photography? I do so wish that I could sketch my visual meanderings though and am truly envious. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be an illustrator. I hope all is well with the new venture.


      • Tyson, thanks for calling me a girl. I don’t know how to make an imoticon with flashing red cheeks, but it was supposed to be here: 🙂
        You can draw, you know, and so can everybody else. All children draws, but some, reaching a certain age, convince themselves they can no longer draw. It is a strange phenomena. It would be like getting 30 and suddenly claim: I do no longer know how to write.
        We don’t have to be masters of everything in life, to enjoy the benefits of the tools and abilities we are given. Just because I’m not a good shooter, doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy making photographs. Have a great day ♥


  3. Hi Tyson,
    Your emails are always an inspiration to me. Thank you.
    During the last 3 months, I’ve been brushing up on my cooking and photography skills. I am still shooting with my Lumix G-1 and have posted many pictures on in my facebook page. (check out my facebook : Lew Sin Hoe).
    My home-cooked food pictures have improved after each post and my friends are getting all tempted up. I hope to improve further and welcome any suggestions from friends here on any tips and advices.


    • Hi Lew,

      Thank you and I am very happy that I’ve been at all inspirational in any way. I sent a friend request to the two FB profiles under Lew Sin Hoe, hopefully at least one of them gets to you 🙂 I really look forward to perusing your photos.


  4. Hi Tyson,

    Nice entry. I know how it feels, for sure.

    One thing I found useful was this book:

    Contemplative Photography by Karr and Wood

    I also write everyday, at least three pages. This is incredibly helpful for me.

    My Lumix Blog: DMC-365.blogspot.com


  5. How many times have you seen a great shot and not been able to take it because you left your camera somewhere other than where the shot is? This shot is an example of such – I’m walking down the street last week and see this busker on the corner, dobro guitar and his aging beagle asleep in the guitar case. Ready made shot, eh?

    Where was my camera?! I was close enough to the Chamber of Commerce where friend Graham Lewis works and he ALWAYS has a camera. Came out and took the shot and this was the result. Not sure if the embedding will work but the Flickr link will.



    • Great shot Terry, and yes, this is exactly why I try to have a camera on me at all times 🙂 It helps now that I finally have a phone with a decent camera on it too. Not great for a lot of stuff, but in a pinch, it’s far better than the alternative.


  6. Tyson: What a great article, again! I loved the idea, the concept, as, who cannot relate with it, be they photographer, artist, writer, or whatever. I also loved the phrase, “Kardashian-like attention hound”, I thought it was pure genius! Well, here I go being a hypocrite again (because I don’t do enough of it), but I find that still life photography, including things placed on a light table or light box, can be inspiring.

    By the way, I remember when I used to do machine work, as in machining metal, I always enjoyed the “set-up” almost as much as the actual machine work, and in photography, I always enjoy the “set-up” too in arranging the camera, tripod, subject, etc. Such is, I guess, still life photography, whether it’s a manufactured item in all its’ glory, or a mushroom in all its’. Or flowers. Or whatever, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

    Thanks again for inspiring us to keep finding ways to keep inspired. And to all those drawers out there, I have nothing but admiration.



    • Thanks Dan,

      My next rut removal exercise might be taking one single image and then spending a few days running copies of it through various plugins/software, etc. Playing around in post with everything from subtle to extreme to create a variety of versions just to see what I can get from one image approached from many different angles as it were.

      I have a feeling we’ll get to be seeing you guys really soon 🙂 I have a GF1 waiting patiently for you.



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