At some stage in their careers, or during the years of amateur interest, most photographers suffer the equivalent of writer's block and are unable to see a creative or constructive way forward. This situation can, ironically, be provoked by significant success or the achievement of a long-sought goal. Those who achieve fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society, or other equivalent distinctions offered by organizations such as the Australian Photographic Society or the Photographic Society of America, are often wisely counselled with regard to possible consequent loss of direction. Creative block can also be encountered as a result of changed circumstances, the acquisition of heavy responsibility in working or private life, or even as a consequence of exhausting a particular field of endeavour.
Fortunately, numerous inspirational remedies exist for such circumstances. Perhaps the simplest is to conduct a comprehensive and objective review of all previous photographic work and achievement. This can be a painfully revealing process which has the potential to bring photographers face-to-face with the reality of their work. What is good and what is not so good? What has been thoroughly explored and which fields have been left untouched? What personal strengths and weaknesses can be identified, and what action might be taken to improve and broaden the scope of the work? Personal weaknesses or failures do not have to be revealed to anyone else, but photographers should themselves recognize them.
Most people are arguably capable of far more than they ever achieve, and are restrained by circumstances, lack of opportunity and perhaps a source of inspiration. However there are numerous ways in which inspiration can be gained or regained. The answer is of course different for every person, but countless creative avenues await exploration. Go for a distinction that has always seemed beyond reach, try selling some images to a magazine, or strive to win an important competition that you have never previously dared to enter. Alternatively, spend a few evenings on the internet browsing the work of inspirational photographers, or make a not-too-distant reservation on one of the many photographic holidays available in photogenic places. Workshops and lectures run by photographic societies and clubs, at national and local levels, are also designed to encourage and inspire.
If none of the above appeals, then try creating a personal portfolio of the best of your life's work. Such a project is the natural sequel to the review of work mentioned earlier. Seeing all the best images beautifully presented, and being able to show them to others in such a pleasing format, must surely rekindle photographic ambition.