Breaking a Creative Rut

Sunset on the Susquehanna River near Drumore, PA.
Sunset on the Susquehanna River near Drumore, PA. Nikon D750 with 24-70mm at 70mm, 1.6 sec, f/11, and ISO 100

Until this last weekend, I had been completely focused on work, the ongoing requirements of daily life, and other people’s tribulations for almost six months. In other words, I had been in a creative rut. It had even been a few weeks since I had my camera out of its bag! However, after a just a couple of days in new surroundings, I feel reenergized and I am once again reminded of the need to shake things up frequently to keep yourself fresh.

A dilapidated greenhouse door on the grounds of Valley Forge National Historical Park
Nikon D750 at 70mm, 1/2,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

It is easy to fall into a rut. There are simply lots of people, events, and other things competing for our attention. It is especially easy to fall into a rut during this time of year; it is cold, rainy, and just not very agreeable outside. And, inertia being what it is, it is easy just to go with the familiar and safe. Ruts also pulverize your creativity.

What changed this last weekend? Dingo and I found ourselves at home alone and looking at another weekend of working on the house and doing laundry. In a moment of relative spontaneity (it played out over a couple of days), we decided to get in the car and drive north to Pennsylvania. I was going to see and photograph some new places and Dingo went along to smell some new places.

Nikon D750 at 70mm, 1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100

We visited six new parks, hiked about twelve miles, took a few hundred images, and got a good night’s sleep on Saturday. I also met a couple of other photographers while on the road and, based on their recommendations, have some additional locations to check out on the next trip. Overall, a great weekend. It was relaxing and gave me some quality time with Dingo.

More importantly, I feel like it broke the rut. I still may have painting and the laundry to do but I feel great and I got some good images. My recommendation to you is to remember to shake it up and get out soon.

Report on the Black and White Workshop in Baltimore, MD

The last weekend in March, the School of Creative Photography held its annual workshop on black and white photography in Baltimore, MD. The students were a small but hardy bunch. While enduring wind and rain on Saturday and Sunday, they caught some quintessential black and white images of Baltimore.

On Friday, we visited Housewerks, an architectural salvage yard, and the Inner Harbor. On Saturday, we started the morning in Fells Point then moved on to the B&O Railroad Museum, and finished up at Green Mount Cemetery. On Sunday, we skipped Mount Vernon Square first thing in the morning due to torrential rain but the conservatory in Druid Park provided us with a wonderful inside location later in the morning.

Baltimore provided everyone with incredible opportunities for great image making. Here are a few images from the weekend…

Introducing Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS

Image of Joyce Harmon peering through a camera on a tripodThe instructors at the School for Creative Photography, if nothing else, are a diverse lot. Everyone one has extensive and unusual backgrounds and came to photography in many different ways.

Perhaps no one, however, has taken a more unusual route to photography than our iPhoneography (along with wildflowers and landscapes) expert and instructor, Joyce Harman. She is veterinarian and owns Harmany Equine Clinic in Flint Hill, VA, a practice devoted to holistic medicine for horses but also sees a few small animals and naturally raised livestock.

Joyce has seriously studied photography since the mid-1990s and has a fascination with iPhoneography. She is also a founding member of the Old Rag Photography Gallery, a cooperative in Sperryville, VA, and a member of Glassworks Gallery in Sperryville, VA.

Check out her full biography and artist statement.

Editor’s Note: Over the next couple of weeks, we will be introducing you to all our instructors. We previously introduce you to Elliot Stern last week.


The School of Creative Photography

Welcome to the School of Creative Photography! We love photography and we love teaching photography.

2013-04-20_Ricketts Glen State Park_Zwit_0012_HDRElliot Stern, proprietor of Blue Ridge Photography Workshops, has decided to semi-retire and the School of Creative Photography (SCP) is picking up where Blue Ridge Photography Workshops left off. (Do not worry Elliot will still be with us but more on that later.) We have a great pedigree and plan to continue with all the things that made Blue Ridge events educational, fun, and productive. We are, of course, going to change a few things as well.

The things that are not going to change include, first and foremost, our teaching style. We are here to help you learn and take great pictures. Instructors are at the workshops, field trips, and classes for you and will not be taking pictures. In addition, all our teachers have experience in photography education along with an extensive knowledge of photography.

We are also not changing the format of our events. There will be workshops, field trips, and classes. The differences are the length of the event as well as the location and focus. Workshops will tend toward weekend adventures and be focused primarily on shooting and field instruction; field trips will also focus on shooting but are going to target a particular subject or event, e.g., sunflowers and St Patrick’s Day in Old Town Alexandria, and be anywhere from a few hours long to a full day. Classes will generally be in a classroom with their primary purpose being education.

You all know most of Blue Ridge Workshop Instructors, including Elliot, Geoff Archer, and myself. The good news is that we will all be SCP instructors and we are adding several more people to our stable of instructors over the next couple of weeks. All of the new instructors are great photographers and teachers and will add something to SCP that we haven’t had before, e.g., a iPhoneography expert.

Probably one of the biggest changes you will see is that we are going to be adding more field trips and classes than we have had in the past. We will still do weekend workshops but, based on your feedback, it is easier for you to commit to shorter events than longer ones and are looking for more events, closer to home. If you have any suggestions for a workshop, field trip, or class, please let me know. We are always looking for unique and unusual locations.

Finally, it is my goal to make everything run like clockwork while we all learn something and have fun. After all, if it is not fun, why do it?

I hope you will look through our current list of workshops, field trips, and events and join us for one very soon. I know you will enjoy it.

– Brian