You know the feeling. You have a week’s worth of pretty content to create for Instagram and you’re sitting there in complete disarray, props everywhere, having spent the last hour trying to get ONE DECENT SHOT of a basic flatlay and NOTHING IS WORKING. The composition is off. The colour is wrong. It’s just plain BORING. You decide that visual content is the Devil and you may as well delete your Instagram account because you will never have anything decent to share ever again. I feel you.
But…pump the brakes, friend. You are more than likely just in a styling slump, and definitely not as crap as you think you are. The best news is that there are some easy ways to overcome said slump and shake off the styling yips.
The 5 best ways to get yourself out of a styling slump are:
1. Drink a big glass of water
Ok, so this might sound like a weird one, but hear me out. Before you go getting all judgey on yourself for being crap at all the things, have you considered that maybe you’re just dehydrated which has given you the massive brain-fuzzies AND made you extra-irritable, leading to a) a reduced inability to think clearly and creatively, and b) a lack of patience and resilience? Yep, it’s A Thing. Most of us don’t drink near enough water to keep ourselves hydrated and at peak condition (I am SOOO guilty of this), so before you collapse in an emotional heap because you can’t seem to get that image right, drink up!
2. Feast your eyes on some fresh #inspo
Now that you’re re-hydrated and ready to tackle the creative beast once again, get your eyeballs all over some creative inspiration. Sometimes we try and make things hard on ourselves by constantly reinventing the wheel (‘Oh but I simply MUST be original!’), when in fact, taking a cue from someone else’s fabulous work might just help you get your mojo back. Jump onto to Pinterest or flick through a magazine, and when you find an image you like, try creating something similar with the props & products you have. You will probably find this will kickstart your creative flow again and one idea will lead to another, and another, and another, and…YOU’RE BACK, BABY.
3. Get walking
Nothing can quite reset your creativity like some fresh air. Go for a walk for 20 minutes or so and you’ll find that the exercise will get your blood pumping and the oxygen will calm your nerves, making you feel more positive, alert & open to creativity. The bonus of being outside is that it will stimulate your senses – you might notice colours or textures that will lead to fresh ideas, or you’ll admire the way someone you pass has put together an outfit which inspires something in you, or you’ll catch a delicious waft from a nearby café that will give you a jolt. Whatever it is, it’s 20 minutes better spent than you would at home, surrounded by props & crap imagery, crying into your cold coffee.
4. Just play
One of the best ways to get yourself out of a styling slump is to just play around without putting yourself under the pressure of making it perfect. Remember, you don’t have to post EVERYTHING you shoot, so why not just have some creative play time just for you? Have fun with it. You could pick three props (let’s say a cup of coffee, a succulent, and your keyboard), and experiment with the different ways you can style these three simple items to create interesting shots. Or you could spend your walking time gathering pretty flowers, leaves & stones off the street, then play around with creating different shapes & compositions with them. Or pick a new styling medium you’ve never tried, like food styling or fashion styling, and see what shots you can come up with by using whatever you have in the pantry or your wardrobe. It might have nothing to do with your industry or usual aesthetic, but it will force your brain to think differently and most importantly, you’ll rediscover the joy of just creating!
5. Let go of your insecurities
If we’re really honest, sometimes it’s not a ‘slump’ in the true sense of the word. It’s more like you think your image is bad because you’ve got a nasty habit of comparing your work to all the other beautiful photos on Instagram, and you always find yourself lacking. Hands up if you’re guilty of this (*raises own hand*). I call this ‘Perfection Paralysis’ – you don’t believe your work is good enough to compete or even come close to the accounts you admire, so your brain gets all hyper-critical of everything you are doing, and eventually shuts down so you don’t actually create anything. What an a-hole. Firstly, take a deep breath. Recognise that you’re being really hard on yourself and tell that Negative Nancy in your head to pipe down. Then remember this: for every beautifully curated, stunningly styled, perfectly lit feed with a ton of followers, there are legitimately THOUSANDS of people with accounts who wish they could style & shoot an image like you can. Stop worrying what everyone else is doing, and just do you. Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s yours and that’s pretty damn cool.
So there you have it. My top 5 ways you can get yourself out of a styling slump. Do you have any special things you do to overcome creative block? Let me know in the comments below!