In my last post “It’s Important To Get Out In The Field Even If You Don’t Feel Like It“ I wrote about making the effort to get out into the field and film nature and wildlife even if you’re heart wasn’t in it. The reasoning was that if you didn’t use you camera and other filmmaking tools you would lose your proficiency and when your creativity did return instead of shooting great footage, you’d be breaking out the manual trying to remember how you change a setting on your camera that you should be able to do without even thinking about it.

Now that I feel my technical skill level has come back up its time to try to recapture my creativity. No easy task I’m sure.

Clear Your Mind of Distractions

Let’s face it, we have more going on in our lives than ever before. Visual and mental data bombard us from the moment our feet touch the ground I the morning to long after we should be in deep REM sleep. It’s nothing short of miraculous that we find the time to be creative even on our best days.

Prairie_lowers_350In my journey to rediscover my creativity I knew I had to clear my mind of all the distractions that had become part of my daily life. It’s certainly hard when you’re going through life changes as well as loss not to have doubts, fears, sadness and other distractions slowly creeping into your conscious mind until there’s little room for much else let alone creativity.

The first major step in regaining my creativity came from meditation. Yep, you heard right, meditation.

I picked up some apps for my iPhone, some of which were guided meditations and others that were simply soothing music and nature sounds. It was literally amazing the affect they had on me. The stress melted away, the grief, the pain it was all gone I as little as ten minutes.

The beauty of having meditation music or meditation apps on your phone is that you can utilize them anywhere. At work while taking a break I put in some ear buds and listen to a ten minute stress reduction guided meditation.

By meditating several times a day it was almost as if my brain was being reprogrammed. I slowly transitioned from thinking about the bad in something to seeing the good. It literally helped me go from the glass is half empty mentality to a glass is half full mindset.

Meditation is a great way to clear your head of all the thoughts you shouldn’t be focusing on and brings clarity allowing you to prioritize your life and refocus on the things you should be spending your time on.

Listen for Creativity

One of the best things I’ve found when I’m not in a creative mood is to surround myself with the work of other creative people. Top on that list is music.

There’s no doubt that music can affect the mood you’re in. One of the things I’ve discovered on this return to creativity journey is it really doesn’t matter what kind of music you listen to. All of it can encourage your creativity to come to the surface.

One of my favorite composers is Helen Jane Long. I love her music so much that I licensed one of her tracks to use in a future film project. Just waiting for the right footage to go with it. Listening to her music makes me want to run out with my camera and start filming something. In fact, it’s usually her music that I use for my secret weapon for filming nature and wildlife.

Let the Sun Shine

Meditation helped me clear my mind and let go of all the distractions that were blocking my creativity.

Now, I needed to start letting some good things back in. On the top of my list was sunshine.

Prairie_Flowers2_350Sunlight is important for Vitamin D production in our bodies. I’m not sure if Vitamin D has anything to do with boosting creativity or not because that’s not why I seek it out.

Sunrise and sunset have always been favorite subjects for photographers and filmmakers alike. The light is unlike any other time of day. It even has its own name, Magic Hour.

Even though I didn’t feel like shooting, I always take my camera with me. I just know me and I would beat myself up if I had a once in a lifetime opportunity and didn’t have a camera to shoot it.

So when I saw an incredible sunset, I just had to break out the camera. Shooting sunrises and sunsets are easy. They don’t take a lot of thought yet they have a huge rate of return as far as lifting your spirits.

Check Out Your Friends Films

Another way that you can get your creativity flowing is seeing what your filmmaking friends are doing. I’ve attended a couple of film festivals recently, one being the Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa City, Iowa that screened a couple of my friends films.

Even though one of the films was a horror film and the other a historical documentary on the Ioway Indians, seeing the efforts of their creativity frankly made me sad that I wasn’t doing anything. Yet at the same time being immersed in the festival world made me want vow to have something ready to submit to the festivals next year.

“Talking shop” is a great motivator for me at least to pick up the camera and start doing something again. All my filmmaker friends had several projects in the works yet I had nothing of my own to contribute. It made me a little sad that everyone else was moving forward as filmmakers and I was pulled over on the side of the road. A night at a film festival with my friends certainly made me miss getting out in the field and filming Nature and wildlife.

If You Shoot It, Creativity Will Come

I finally convinced myself that I need to just take my camera out to my favorite spot, Indian Creek Nature Center and just shoot something.

I wasn’t worried about getting usable footage or even what I filmed. I just knew that I had to get out there or it would become easier and easier to find reasons not to go out with my camera. And so, I reluctantly packed up my gear and headed out.

purple_coneflower_350The tallgrass prairie was in fine form that late afternoon and I found some coneflowers right away that I wanted to film.

I wasn’t expecting much as I set up my tripod and attached the camera. After all, I wasn’t feeling very creative. However, I found out that you can’t take the creativity out of a creative person no matter how hard life tries.

As soon as I looked through the viewfinder, I starting making compositional adjustments, opening up the iris to get a shallower depth of field and before you know it, the joy of filming nature and wildlife came rushing back in as if some dam had bust upstream in my mind.

Before I knew it, I had walked the entire tallgrass prairie and my P2 cards were full and my camera batteries low. Creativity had retired. More importantly however, my passion for filming that natural world had returned in full force.

Creativity Is Never Lost

Through this entire process I’ve come to realize that I never lost my creativity, I just had to find ways to let go of the stress and worries that kept me from going out into the field to exercise it.

If I had simply just returned to the field to film, I probably would have continued to shoot good footage, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Once I was able to change my mindset, my creativity was able to rise back to the top and take center stage once again.

If you feel like your creativity is lacking, try some of the tools I used and see if they help you as well. I still meditate, I still listen to music and I still try to surround myself with filmmaker friends and their work. But ultimately, getting back out into nature is what ultimately got me back on track.

I would love to hear what works for you when you feel like your hearts not into filming. Leave a comment below and let me know.

And as always, keep shooting the ordinary but make it extraordinary!
Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker