SURVIVING A CREATIVE RUT ON INSTAGRAM
Losing My Way On The Gram: 5 Ways I Am Trying To Tackle The Rut & Get Inspired Again
The last week or so I took an accidental beak from my blog and Instagram. I posted a couple of pictures on my feed, but half heatedly as I wasn’t feeling entirely motivated and rewarded by it creatively or ‘numbers wise’ (damn those numbers for always bringing me down), and unintentionally its been well over a week since I posted a blog feature too. I actually loved my last two posts I shared, a travel guide from a hotel I loved and a personal post on health, both with photos I felt particularly proud of an excited to showcase over here. But since posting those and ‘using’ the last set of photos I had time to properly shoot on my grid … I’ve gone quiet.
The truth of the matter is I’ve felt a bit out of sorts creatively (mostly with instagram), lost even, in what I am creating versus what I want to be creating, I’ve become swamped in an Instagram comparison trap comparing the visuals I love to the reality of what my content on instagram looks like, and there’s of course a disconnect between what I want it to be versus what it is. Being honest half of the problem is my severe lack of time – blogging and instagram after all is my side hustle and not my only career – and my control freak nature on the quality of visuals I want to produce. I want to embrace the ‘care free’ visual style I admire so much, often shot on iPhone or film, but yet I struggle not to shoot on my DSLR or be satisfied with anything other than those high res professional shots. It’s a grapple that’s limiting not only my opportunity to shoot for instagram (because I don’t currently capture content unless i’m deliberately out with my camera) but also my inspiration and enjoyment of it too.
On top of all this mental grapple, my Instagram followers have been gradually declining (only -100, but still, it’s devastating for morale) exasperating my feelings further, there’s nothing more disheartening and affirming that what I’m doing ‘isn’t quite working’ right now than losing followers. Whilst my issues are with my instagram rather than my blog, because actually i’m quite content with what I am doing over here and this is my space where there’s no algorithm or ‘popularity’ contests to be had, the reality is my instagram grapples are impacting my overall creativity, motivation and enthusiasm to produce and share. My creativity is being stifled by the sheer nature of what instagram has become and the formulaic nature of what content is ‘popular’ and instagram boosts – and ultimately what is required on instagram to achieve success today.
So in the wake of utter creative despair, and really losing my way with instagram i’ve decided to challenge myself to a few creativity sparking tasks. These 5 tasks are self designed to release the shackles I have, encourage me to shoot more often and not just when I’m on an organised shoot for outfit posts, and also to shoot a greater variety of content … regardless of whether it makes it onto the grid or not.
My goal is to clear my mind, bring back inspiration, and just have a little more fun playing around with my visuals – I think these 5 challenges will help with just that.
5 WAYS I AM TRYING TO TACKLE THE INSTAGRAM CREATIVITY RUT
Sometimes your environment is as much as driver as it is a prohibitory of creativity. I’ve always wanted to fill my space with things I love, but actually I realise there’s more I can do to make sure my ‘space’ is fuelling my creativity, as much as my travels do. When I am away I am constantly inspired creatively, there’s so much to take in, to capture and of course far more time to play around with my camera. We’re going through a huge renovation shortly, so i’m mindful that things will change, but I want to task myself with shooting something inside my house each week, to explore more corners, more spaces, more ‘props’. And not just that, perhaps even the office, my commute to work or simply the places I visit but forget to stop and look at.
Starting with todays photos which I shot in just a few minutes when I got home this evening … task one complete.
I am shackled by my DSLR. I admit it.
I know it, but I struggle to do anything about it. I admire and love so many peoples photos on instagram which are clearly taken with a phone, but for some reason seem paralysed to use mine for the purpose of my ‘grid’. Fear of the image not looking good enough combined with a reality that I am not an iPhone photographer, I am a camera photographer. I don’t really know how to get the best out of my iPhone to truly capitalize all the moments I could – everyday life. I wrote a post about shooting with iPhones recently, and want to go back to some of that motivation and inspiration I had. I am going to challenge myself to shoot a daily photo on my iPhone, and as much as possible share this on my instagram feed.
I am at the point where I truly need to change things up, and I think this will help me. It’ll also encourage me to think more about composition, lighting, props etc when taking phone photos, as it’s easy to point and shoot and not think creatively like you would when using a camera, but ultimately it still needs the same care and energy to get a great shot.
CLEAR THE MIND
Part of re-finding your creativity comes in simply taking the pressure off. Creativity comes into it’s own when we feel our best, when we are relaxed, calm and when our brain has a little space to breathe and wonder off. Going for a walk, taking a bath, even sitting on the loo is often when our brain sparks, and there’s a reason for that. The more relaxed you are the more creative you’ll be.
I realise I need to create some space for that, and so whilst it won’t immediately generate content for my feed, I hope practicing a little more mindfulness will get me into a better space mentally, to be inspired to shoot, create and play around with my visual style. I recently picked up two mindfulness journals in Anthropologie as well as a cute notebook to work in, I often find myself buying note books and book when I am seeking a little more creative fulfilment or feel I want to sit and write whats on my mind and this was no different, so last week I embraced the urge and picked up these books as a little treat to myself. I’m already looking forward to using my journal to complete daily mindfulness tasks and capture creative ideas when they spark.
I think the idea / challenge with the most potential is my film camera. It will immediately remove all the shackles of my ‘phone versus camera’ photography debate, because you simply cannot see the result until it’s developed. It’s a format that really inspires me and has it’s own unique visual style, a style I feel most drawn to right now. Finally, it’s a relatively easy piece of kit to carry around and I hope as such I might broaden the horizon of photos I take, be inspired to play about, test and learn, and try something new.
I’m going to carry my film camera around with me, and aim to shoot at least a couple of pictures everyday with it. Anything and everything goes.
SHOOT SOMETHING NEW
And the final point, and one I found worked for me today, is simply shooting something new. Shooting outfit pictures is difficult as I need a helping hand to capture my looks, it can often take quite a bit of time to get from conception to editorial and of course you you need ‘new things’ to wear to make it worthwhile when it comes to blogging and instagram. All of these things, on top of my time limitations, often means I can struggle to share lots of outfits on my instagram unless they’ve been shot already for my blog. But switching up the subject makes things so much easier, for me this means shooting things that aren’t me.
Actually I often find when I play around with a new subject, whether it’s trinkets like today, home decor & interior posts, shots from my travels, or simply random things in my daily life, that it actually sparks even more creativity and motivation to create. Taking the ‘need’ to shoot away, and instead just playing around and experimenting, often leads to greater work and a far more enjoyable creative process.
Even shooting these visuals this evening has made me feel more positive and actually quite excited to produce more.
These shots, taken on the spur of the moment with no effort or real thought, represent the style of photos I want to create more of. So simply putting my own tips into practice this evening has already moved things forward and got me a little more excited to shoot more, more often and release the shackles a little.
I’d love to know your tips for getting out of a creative rut and how you stay inspired on instagram?