5 Simple Ways to Overcome iPhone Photography Block

Have you ever had a creative block related to your photography? You’re not alone – creative blocks are quite common for any artist. The good news is that there are some tried and true techniques to bust yourself out of a rut. Here are 5 ways you can regain that spark and get back to taking fantastic iPhone photos.

iPhone Photography Block 1

1. Go Somewhere New

Have you ever driven somewhere and not remembered anything you saw along the way?

As humans, our brains become familiar with things we see every day. It can be tough to see the world through a creative lens when our environments feel routine.

One way to jumpstart your creativity is going somewhere new.

Even if you can’t afford to go on a luxurious vacation in an exotic location, there are plenty of new places to go. Get in your car and take a day trip to a place you’ve never visited.

You don’t even need to leave your own city. Something as simple as taking a different route on your walk home can trigger photo ideas.

Above you can see an image I took in the Ohio State University’s library. I’ve lived within a few miles of it for years, but hadn’t visited it since my graduation years ago, and the building has since been renovated. Guess what – it was ripe with photo opportunities!

2. Try a New Style or Technique

Most iPhone photographers tend to find what they enjoy photographing and then stick to it.

Do you usually take street photography? Try macro pictures. Always taking images of people? Try landscapes. Do you love black and white photos? Challenge yourself to take pictures with bold colors. You get the idea.

Even if you don’t stay with the new style or technique long term, you will still be evolving as a photographer.

And who knows, you may discover a new style or technique that you love.

iPhone Photography Block 2

I certainly wouldn’t consider this one of my technically best photos. But, I love it because it personally got me out of a creative block. I find taking photos of people I don’t know intimidating.

However, after admiring the artistic images others took using a specific slow shutter technique for public portraits, I wanted to give it a go. I’ve been working on fine-tuning my skills and I’m still not at the level of these talented artists – but I’m closer than I was before, and I have even more respect for those who do it well.

3. Use an App for More Control

Under the large majority of circumstances, the native iPhone camera works extremely well. However, there are some instances where using an app can provide new creative opportunities.

For example, with the native iPhone app, the exposure and focus are tied together. If you tap your iPhone screen to set the focus, the camera will automatically adjust the exposure for the same area of the image.

Apps such as Camera+ and Camera Awesome allow you to separate the exposure and focus, giving you more control over your images.

Another example of an app that can increase the control you have over your images is Slow Shutter Cam. Using this or a similar app can simulate the look of long exposure images.

Using a slow shutter app can open the door to different image styles, such as motion blur (think that smooth water look on a waterfall) or light (get those cool light trails from moving cars or trains).

By learning a new app that extends the functionality of the iPhone camera, you will be prepared when great photo opportunities arrive. Most times you won’t need to use these apps, but when you come across a beautiful waterfall or are crossing a highway overpass at dusk you’ll be ready.

While on a recent hiking adventure, I was thankful I had practiced with Slow Shutter Cam before my trip. I was able to spend my time at this beautiful cave finding the best location to take a  long exposure water shot rather than fumbling around with the app settings or missing the opportunity altogether.

iPhone Photography Block 3

4. Take on a New Challenge

Sometimes you just have to push through a block.

One way to do that is to take on a photo challenge. Whether the challenge provides a daily photo prompt or is topical (for example, concentrating on portraits), having a goal will keep you going even when you aren’t feeling inspired.

If you need some accountability, look around for challenges that are social. For example, Fat Mum Slim hosts a monthly challenge. By using the challenge hashtag, you will find some new inspiring photographers. Plus, when we state a goal publicly, we are more likely to hold ourselves to it.

5. Allow Yourself to Take a Break

iPhone photographers who are extremely involved on social photo sites, such as Instagram, can feel a self-imposed pressure to post a new image if they haven’t in a while. If you are experiencing photography block, that pressure can intensify.

Allow yourself to take a break. They key here is the “allow” part. Rather than feeling stuck and stressed, remind yourself it is OK to take some time off.

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You can stay involved on the social networks by commenting and appreciating others’ work. If being on the network just reminds you that you aren’t taking photos, then allow yourself to put down the phone and gain some distance.

When photography doesn’t feel fun anymore, take time to do something you do enjoy. A truly dedicated photographer will come back to the art when he or she is ready.

Photography block is something all iPhone photographers fall into from time to time. Try one or more of these 5 ideas to get that spark back.

About the Author

Megan Corwin learned about social photography sites while doing research for her social media clients, but became so intrigued she wanted to learn more about it for herself. Her iPhone images have been displayed at the Columbus Museum of Art as a part of their community exhibits. In addition to iPhone photography, Megan enjoys travel, reading, and learning new things. You can find her around the web on photorelli.com or @megancorwin on Instagram.

  • Paul Moore

    Thanks for this Emil. Been in a bit of a slump lately. I think No 5 is the option for me for the moment 🙂 Suffering iPhone photography burnout. But then again I could see something that has to be photographed on the way home from work this evening 🙂

    • I’m kind of the same right now – so much work that I hardly have time to take photos, but I know I’ll be going to some really beautiful places in a few weeks 🙂

  • Faye

    Enjoyed this a lot…some great tips. Thanks, Megan and Emil.

    • Awesome, happy to hear that. Megan did a great job here 🙂

  • Clint

    Great tips and reminders!

  • Phuc

    I’ve just got out of my creative block one week ago. I felt tired of always having to find something to take picture of. So I took a break, stopped pushing myself and now I’m back on track. Thanks for your tips!

  • kingJeffrey

    never had the slump yet since im a newbie but atleast i’ll know what to do when that happen. Thanks Megan and Emil:)

    • Those things do happen from time to time… you’ll know it when it happens 🙂

  • Ardys Zoellner

    Great tips, and I’m part of the iPhonephotoAcademy already! We all experience creative blocks and one of my tricks is try to look at my every day activities through the lens. I photograph laundry on the line, dishes I cook, flowers in my garden. Before I know it I’m absorbed in the moment and looking at things in a new way. Thank you!