Three Tips for Overcoming a Photographic Plateau

Let’s face it…growing up isn’t always easy. There are lots of hurdles to overcome during our journeys as photographers. Take heart though, whether it’s a problem with technique, gear, or simply finding your own creative uniqueness, I can personally guarantee that someone else is struggling with that same problem.

But there’s one situation too often encountered by beginners and even pro photographers alike – the dreaded “plateau”. This is a stage that often happens when we feel like our photography has a reached a point where it is no longer improving. It’s a terrible feeling.

You’ve stopped learning new techniques

I get it. I really do. There comes a time when you reach a level of confidence in your craft. You feel comfortable in the techniques you practice and more and more of your images turn out just as you imagined them in your head. In itself, confidence that you know what you’re doing is a huge accomplishment in itself. The problem arises, and thus the plateau happens when you stop looking for new things to learn.

How to overcome it

I used the word “comfortable” earlier. Becoming comfortable in your photography can be a creative death sentence. Simply put, don’t become overly comfortable to the point where you think there’s nothing else to learn. There are always advancements being made in the world of photography.

Ignoring needed gear upgrades

I’ll admit it, I love photo gear. There are few artistic mediums where technology advances more quickly than it does in photography. The way your gear facilitates your work is a careful balance between mechanical capability and your personal skill level.

Shooting the same thing over and over

We all have certain things we love photographing. There are genres of photography which draw us in for one reason or another. For me, it is landscape and wilderness/adventure photography.

How to overcome it

This problem perhaps has one of the most polarized solutions of all. Simply go photograph something that you normally wouldn’t consider shooting. I know, sounds easy, right? It practically is, but completely switching gears and branching out into new areas of photography can feel unnatural, awkward, and downright scary.

Some closing thoughts

Sooner or later, to some degree, we all will hit a plateau in our photography. How we handle that moment when it comes can make all the difference.

Usually, understanding the problem is a huge step in solving it and moving on with your photography. Try new things. Research and see if your work does, in fact, need that full frame camera sensor. Branch out and try a style of photography that you generally don’t practice. The key to overcoming a photographic plateau is the realization you need recharging once in a while. It’s a normal part of becoming a stronger and more capable photo maker.

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