The best way to kill creativity is through repetition. Doing the same thing day after day, turns it into a habit, and habits are simply things we do because, well, that's what we do. We get into these habits because they become comfortable. You know the results are okay. Often the first time you do it it is very impressive and you love it. That felt good, lets so more of that. It soon looses that new car smell.
As an artist, and I assume everyone reading my blogs are artists and not just snap shot photographers, we have to try new things to grow and become even better than we were a year ago. Or, lets bring it in even closer. Better than we were yesterday. An artist has both skills and talent. You can't really create wonderful work without both. The talent comes mainly from your ability to see and enjoy art. All art that you have ever seen, as well as life experiences, will mold your artistic talent. Skill is actually easier to quantify because it is physical instead of emotional for the most part.
In previous blogs I've mentioned that some artists MUST stay with the same look with their art. They found an audience that pays for their work and they expect the same style in all of it. If you are one of those, well, you probably aren't reading MY blogs anyhow. But congrats! If you are in this and trying to make money, a stable marketable style is the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Back to the habit. The problem with creating your art and finding something comfortable is that you will loose the joy of creation. That feeling you get when you do something new and sit back and 'wow' yourself. That is why we do this. Quantity isn't important, it's the quality. We shouldn't be creating our work because we have to. That's habit. We create to bring to life a new window into our own artistic mind.
This brings us to a way to solve the mundane and bring excitement back into your art. At least how I and several of my friends keep it fresh.
The above is a sample of what I do before every shoot. I have thousands of images that others have posted on Facebook, 500px, or a host of other places on the net. Knowing the shape and comfort level of the model, the location, or studio, hair color, etc., I can pick out images that give me a starting point to create my own images with that model. In the beginning I thought this was cheating a bit because they weren't original ideas. I found out later that artists use other paintings, drawings, and photographs for their inspiration often. It's how it's done by the most creative.
A very large percentage of the time the images are there to remind me of another idea it gave me. Like a lighting scheme I want to try. I never try to duplicate an image exactly as I see it in the inspiration photos.
Now, back to the point of not getting into habits that kill creativity. If I brought models in, sat them on a chair, used the same light each time, and took the one picture, that would get fairly redundant and boring to me as an artist in short order. They may look wonderful to each model, or even those who view them. Sean Archer is an amazing photographer and much of his work is the same, but his talent is bringing out something special about each person's face. That makes seemingly redundant images all very interesting to look at. So the variation in the images can be subtle.
Using inspiration should help mix up your style a little, help fine tune it. Remember, it's other art that you have seen and life experience that forms your artistic eye and personal style. What better way to feed that is to spend time looking at other's art, collecting it up for inspiration, and then pushing your skills by seeing how you would do the same kind of art.
The best part is that every new thing you try teaches you something, often subconsciously. So it all helps. Even if you do something that doesn't tickle your artistic heart strings, it will change your skills and art just a tiny bit.
Mix it up, heat it up, spice it up. Get creative and watch for those pesky habits.