A cure for photographer’s block

(5/4/19) Stockton’s Gabe Flores, Jr., left, fights Eduardo Pereira in lightweight bout at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (This was the first boxing match that the photographer had shot in a several years). [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

There are times when I’m on an assignment, usually a sporing event, where I just can’t get into the rhythm of the game. My timing is off or non-existent. Consider it a photographer’s version of writer’s block. This is usually as the beginning of the season when I’m a bit rusty as shooting that particular sport. Sometimes I’m a “day late and a dollar short” when following the action, so much so that I don’t even press the shutter button. What I sometimes do to get over my hesitation is to just start shooting, regardless of what I’m getting. After a little while I’ll get back into the swing of things.

(5/4/19) Stockton’s Gabe Flores, Jr., right, fights Eduardo Pereira in lightweight bout at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (This was the first boxing match that the photographer had shot in a several years). [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

It was a bit more problematic in the old days of film. Shooting more would mean that it burn through rolls of film with very little to show for it or if something good did happen, you’d be at the end of a roll and have to change it out for a new one. But, still, I found it was a great way of cleaning out the cobwebs at getting back into the groove. Now days you can delete the photos that you don’t want with just a press of a button.

(5/4/19) The referee declares a knock out of Eduardo Pereira, left, by Stockton’s Gabe Flores, Jr., right, in a lightweight bout at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. (This was the first boxing match that the photographer had shot in a several years). [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

There are also occasions where photographers can come up empty when it comes to thinking up ideas for photos. One can draw a blank when encountering a situation or trying to think of an idea for a photo.

(6/16/19) The North’s Rashard Stallworth from Chavez, center, is tackled by the South’s Jordan Wilson of Downey, left, and Zaire Eugene from Modesto in the 46th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (The All-Star game is played several months after the end of the football season) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Quite often the block will come from not know where to start. Even the most skilled photographer may need a kickstart from time to time. It could because of brain freeze, like knowing the facts from lessons at school but when it comes to a test, one’s mind just locks up and can’t think of the answers.

(6/16/19) The North’s Vladik Sutherland of Mountain House,right, makes a move on the South’s Kameron Myers of Enochs in the 46th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (The All-Star game is played several months after the end of the football season) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

It may be a situation where you think I don’t know what to take pictures of or you don’t know where to start. Again, if you just start shooting, even if you’re making bad pictures, often just the act of looking through the camera and pressing the button can loosen up the rusty gears of the creative part of you mind to get things rolling.

(6/16/19) The North’s Vladik Sutherland of Mountain House, right, is chased by the South’s Jordan Wilson of Downey in the 46th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium in Stockton. (The All-Star game is played several months after the end of the football season) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

In addition to just shooting more, you should also try shooting from different vantage points. From down low or up high. If photographing up close isn’t working, try taking a few steps back.

Whenever I get into a rut, I modify the words of Dory from the movie Finding Nemo and repeat them in my head: “just keep shooting, just keep shooting…” The process of shooting, can help you get into the rhythm of things or have new ideas pop up.

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