I think the biggest thing that we(or at least me)as creatives struggle with is challenging ourselves to be bigger, be better, be more than our last piece. Sometimes that can be a good thing, others it's a spiral into self doubt, and the fear that what we do next won't be as good. Here is what we all need to realize though, that its all a process- I will fail, some of my work will not be as great as the ones before it, and that's okay. I think the times where I went into a project or an idea with pre conceived ideas or notions of how I wanted something to be with no flexibility was when my work suffered. Sure ideas and planning are a must, and going into a project with the overall picture of what you want to accomplish is a must. BUT there is also the adaptability factor that separates good from great- the ability to say, okay this was great in my head, but not so much applied, lets adapt.
Sometimes just challenging myself to do something simple as using one girl, one light, and one interesting thing stretches the creative muscles and gives me the freedom to explore. Here are some creative exercises that I do sometimes to help myself get out of the rut:
1. Use a simple backdrop- like seamless paper or a wall and play with different poses, different angles and different crops.
2. When outside, use what is around you to frame your subject- treat the environment around you like a frame- there is always something that can be used to help bring more interest to the photo, that can help tell your story better.
3. Use the light- play with different lighting- indoor, studio, full sun, golden hour. They all have separate challenges and can make amazing photographs.
4. Connect with others. Know that you are not alone in this, we are all going through the same processes, and sometimes being inside your own head for a while can get stressful. Do something not related to photography, relax, go out. Sometimes the best ideas come when we are not thinking so hard about them.