Let’s face it, collective creativity has taken a bit of a hit within the last year. With folks working from home, weddings being canceled and rescheduled multiple times, and endless Zoom calls–it all affects your mental health and motivation. If you’ve been in a rut lately, we want you to know that you’re not alone. We’re feeling it too. But it’s crucial that you protect your creativity and happiness.
Of course, that is often easier said than done. While there’s no better option than quality time to rest and recuperate, it’s not realistic. A nice bottle of whiskey or a bath bomb might help in the moment but then the work starts again tomorrow. With our favorite creatives in mind (hint: that’s you!) we’ve gathered these six tips to guard your creativity.
How To Protect Your Creativity
Tip 1. Set Boundaries
As a wedding photographer, you’re probably extremely familiar with your email inbox being flooded with emails at all hours of the day. And as a business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling the need to respond right away to keep your business afloat. But to protect your creativity there comes a time that you need to turn it off–we know, easier said than done.
Make sure that you schedule time for vacations or days off. Whether it’s a day trip to your favorite city, a weekend-long getaway, or simply a day spent lounging by the pool, it’s important to prioritize your mental health. While you’re away, don’t be afraid to set up an email “out of office” bounceback. Your emails can wait. In fact, they will wait! We promise they’ll be there when you return.
When you are working, set consistent hours for yourself. It’s easy to get lost in work and end up spending 12 hours in front of a computer screen. To avoid this, give yourself office hours. Shut down your computer after 6 PM or make it a goal to only check your emails twice a day–once first thing in the morning and once before you turn your computer off. In the best case scenario, you’ll work towards doing both.
Tip 2. Spend Time Outdoors
Speaking of vacations, consider this your sign to spend more time outdoors. A study done by Atchley et al found that spending quality time outside led to improved creative potential–we’re talking about a 50% increase in creative potential. This study was conducted in 2012 when we were considerably less attached to our screentime. If you’re having a hard time thinking back to 2012, that was the year that Facebook bought Instagram and the song Gangnam Style took the world by storm.
Fast forward to the present, and we’re all so glued to our electronics that we often forget how beautiful the world is around us. Spend time outside and remind yourself of this regularly.
If you don’t have the time for a long hike, go for a short walk around the neighborhood. Soaking up the sun and feeling the warmth on your skin–even if it’s just for a few minutes–will help you reset, feel rejuvenated, and boost your creativity.
Tip 3. Photograph For Yourself
As a wedding photographer, you spend most of your time shooting for paid clients. When was the last time that you grabbed your camera and shot content just because you enjoyed it? Whether it’s landscapes, self-portraits, food photography, you name it–capture it because you want to, not because you have to.
If you have other creative hobbies outside of photography, find time to engage in those as well. If there’s a creative hobby that you’ve always wanted to try but have yet to do, now’s your chance. Pick up painting, writing, or even baking. The options are endless.
Tip 4. Don’t Be Afraid To Feel Frustrated
As humans, we’re often taught that in order to make the most out of life we should be happy 24/7. But that’s not feasible. There’s nothing wrong with feeling frustrated when you’re in a creative rut. Harnessing that frustration and using it as a motivational force to be productive is one of the best ways to achieve your goals and maintain your creativity.
However, there is a fine line between allowing yourself to feel it and dwelling on it. When you’re feeling frustrated, acknowledge it. Consider what is making you frustrated. And then proceed to move forward with ideas of how to overcome it. You may need to journal or talk with someone to do this–there’s nothing wrong with that. It can actually be quite therapeutic to discuss these feelings and your frustrations.
Tip 5. Talk With Other Wedding Photographers
If there’s anyone else who understands how you feel, it’s other wedding photographers. Be each other’s soundboards while also bouncing ideas off one another. Reach out to another photographer in your area and organize a styled shoot together. Grab a coffee and discuss your favorite weddings or shoots that you’ve done and describe why you loved them so much.
Not only will you have someone that can relate to how you’re feeling, but you’ll also have the chance to get new insight. They may inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone and do something you would have never done in the past.
Tip 6. Never Stop Learning
Whether you began your wedding photography journey six months ago or ten years ago, there’s always something new to learn. Spend your time researching new techniques, new editing skills, or mastering Pinterest. Learning helps you stay inspired and creative while also improving your skills as a wedding photographer.
Creativity will always come and go in waves, much like our happiness does. That’s why it’s important to take care of your mental health and set boundaries. Doing so will help set you up for success and keep those creative juices flowing. To read more about how to protect your creativity and your mental health, be sure to check out these mental health tips for creatives!