Barriers to Creativity

Barriers to Creativity

Note: You can adjust the video quality and playback speed via the gear icon in the bottom-right corner of the playbar.

0:00Why Barriers are Difficult to Identify
2:041: Prioritizing Skills Over Craft
5:302: Unconstructive Feedback
9:393: The Artist “Hat”
12:264: Striving for That “Perfect” Photograph
15:535: Becoming Uncomfortable

Lesson Downloads

About this Lesson

Welcome back for Lesson Two!

Today’s lesson unpacks one of the biggest challenges you will face as a photographer.

It’s one that I’ve seen come up time and time again in my 11+ years of teaching Lightroom and Photoshop…

And that is feeling stuck in a creative rut.

  • Have you ever felt overwhelmed once you jump into Lightroom and Photoshop? 
  • Completely lost on the next step to take?
  • Or perhaps you spent an hour (or more!) on a single image…and are STILL unsatisfied with the result? 

It can be quite defeating to feel like your creativity has plateaued, especially when you’re excited and energized by what you’ve captured in the field.

Because rarely does the raw file accurately represent what we saw and felt when photographing the moment…

So we rely on the darkroom to enhance our images and bring that experience to fruition. 

However, our processing “workflow” can sometimes feel like it’s just random button-pushing and slider adjustments…

Until we compromise for a final image that never reached its full potential because we don’t know what else to do. 

This is a VERY common challenge with both new and seasoned photographers once they enter the darkroom…and it makes you feel like you’re stuck in a creative rut.

Here’s the problem:

There are hidden “creative barriers” standing in your way that prevent you from moving forward.

And here’s the BIGGER problem:

Many photographers aren’t even aware that these barriers exist, so they can’t pinpoint the cause…

And when you can’t identify the cause, you lack the necessary context to overcome these roadblocks and create the image you desire. 

So instead, we tend to blame ourselves…

“I’m in a creative rut”.

“I need to wait for inspiration to hit me”. 

“I guess I’m just not that imaginative”.

It’s defeating, but entirely avoidable. 

So rather than settling for an image that’s just “good enough”, we need to first clearly identify these creative barriers that make the darkroom SEEM like such a challenging space. 

Because there is a BIG difference between just processing an image, and creating a photograph that expresses our vision…

And in the following video, I’ll show you the most common barriers that are preventing you from reaching your full potential and siphoning the fun out of processing.

HINT: It’s almost never because of a lack of technical skill! 

Here’s what you’ll learn in your second lesson:

  • Why it’s a myth that some photographers are just naturally “gifted” with artistic abilities, and that a true talent for expression can not be taught.
  • Why sitting back and waiting for inspiration to hit you rarely works.
  • How to overcome indecision in the darkroom, and why this is your biggest enemy.
  • Why you can not base the value of your art on what others deem as aesthetically pleasing…and how to properly curate feedback as constructive or subjective.
  • Why thinking “like an artist” can sabotage your creative process.
  • What it truly means when you come home without an image you like.
  • The REAL reason why we doubt our creative abilities as photographers, and how detrimental this can be to our ability to express freely and authentically.
  • What to do when the creative energy and excitement you had when taking the photo isn’t carried over to the darkroom.

Here’s why this lesson is so important:

Even if your images are aesthetically pleasing…

If they don’t tell the story you want them to tell, and if they don’t convey the atmosphere of that experience…your photography is going to feel like an empty win. 

I’m sure you have a treasure trove of images in your portfolio right now that you initially passed over because these barriers were standing in your way…just waiting to be processed and polished!

In a few days, you’ll receive your third lesson where we will dive deep into the root causes of overwhelm, confusion, and frustration whenever you attempt to learn a new darkroom skill…

And how to reassemble your processing workflow that makes learning effortless, fun, and most importantly – creatively rewarding!

I think you’re going to find it very enlightening. 

PS – Have a question about these videos? Just leave a comment below or message me privately by clicking the orange button in the bottom-right corner.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Denise Logan
Denise Logan
2 years ago

Thanks another great video with ideas to think about.

Marietjie du Toit
2 years ago

This video pinpointed quite a few issues which have been cropping up lately. Thank you for sharing your insights.

2 years ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this second video of the series and find the psychology behind the approach to creating images fascinating. On the last slide you said that by following the same approach to each photograph and how we process them, we can end up with a portfolio of images that all look the same. Is this necessarily a bad thing? After all, some photographers call this their style. For example, when I see an image that’s by Anton Corbijn I immediately know it’s one of his images exactly because of the way it has been processed. Have I missed your point? I’d appreciate your thoughts especially as I agreed with everything else that was covered in this episode. Many thanks and I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment!

Reply to  Christopher O'Donnell
2 years ago

Hi Christopher, thanks for the reply. I read over it a couple of times and I get what you are saying and to a large extent I agree. On Friday I shot a waterfall and had 6 images I liked out of the 74 I shot, Three of those were similar close-ups of a protruding rock which I processed pretty much identically then converted one to b/w which worked really well. Of the other 3, 2 were from the same viewpoint but were half height and full height shots and those were again processed similarly but different from the close-ups. The last one was a completely different shot and processed differently to the rest of the selection. So in effect I processed those 6 images 4 different ways. That would fall in line with your advice to not fall into the style trap, but at the same time, all of the images (I feel) have my “style” about them when it comes to my waterfall pictures…other scenes I shoot look different. Going forward, I think your advice is on point and whether I’m doing it consciously or sub-consciously I’m following your teaching!