I’ve got several tricks and exercises I do to keep the mental power flowing.

Art Date

From Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. Plan a date with yourself and go to the movies, a museum or some galleries. Whatever you like to do that will expose you to other creative things. My new offices are close to the Chelsea Galleries, MOMA, and ICP. I go to one of them once a week to get a jumpstart on ideas.

Alternative Creative

Is there something else you would like to do? I’m not saying as a career change but another way to step out and away from the daily routine but still creating things. How about painting (if you’re not a painter), drawing, music, photography, etc.? Some times a new creative challenge frees you up to get ideas for your main creative vocation. I love landscape design. My home gardens are my experiment. I’ve taken college level courses in Landscape Design at the NY Botanical Garden. Doing this even helped me better understand what I am shooting when I did gardens for House and Garden Magazine. I also change up my cameras to come at Photography with a fresh eye.  I’ve gone into my backyard with my 8×10 view camera and shot photos with plastic cameras.

Maintain a Sketchbook/Idea Pad

You may not be able to execute every idea but do you sit down and get them written down to further flesh it out? I keep a stack of index cards with me or a small pad to write things down as I see them. I’ve got them sorted at my desk by idea groups like Couples, Locations, Technical. They are a great resource when I am working on a project.

The Morning Papers

Another idea from Julia Cameron. Write every morning a few pages. I’m not able to write everyday. But it’s a great way to just download the brain. Saves wear and tear on your love life. But after you have downloaded your issues, you’ll find that more creative and interesting ideas will start writing themselves on the page.

The Cards

This Idea from Ian Summers. I have a set of cards (business card stock from Avery) that I printed Characters names on, another set with an action (verb), another set with locations (barbershop, Loft, Car Dealership) and a adverb set (aggressively, lovingly,with revenge). Shuffle the cards and draw one from each and think about the scenario. In my case, will it be a photo? Maybe it’s a short story.

The Wack Pack

Have you seen the whack pack? Creative Whack Pack by Roger Von Oech. It’s a selection of cards with paragraphs to make you think about your creative endeavors. Here’s an example:

“No. 56 Long Ago, map makers sketched dragons on maps as a sign to sailors that they would be entering unknown territory at their own risk.  Some sailors took this literally and were afraid to venture on. Others saw the dragons as a sign of opportunity, a door to virgin territory. Similarly, each of us has a mental map of the world complete with dragons. Where does fear hold you back? What dragons can you slay?”

Problem Solver

When working on something I follow these instructions:

  1. Assess the Problem
  2. Gather all Information and Research
  3. Sleep on it or take a break (do something else)
  4. Come back to the Problem and flesh out what solutions have rose to the top.

When working on a photo, I gather every resource I can from story ideas, styling notes, casting information and go thru it all. I write like crazy. Then I put it all aside. Even sleep on it. Later, I then act on the better ideas that come to me. I keep a pad by my bed, my reading chair, my office desk, and in my backpack in case the moment strikes.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

When you’re bummed out, you attract those negative thoughts. Or at least you keep seeing them come at you and can’t see the good ones. Reverse that and think about the good stuff. That will help you recognize more good things as they happen to you. Let the good stuff drown out the bad.


Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, Simplify, Simplify -Henry Thoreau

Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.ÔÇØ -Albert Einstein


Take Risks

If you are not going to take risks there will be no gain. I love this quote.

ÔÇ£The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.ÔÇØ

–Theodore Roosevelt

What is it that you wish you could do? What is that you wish to be different? What’s the worse that can happen? That it didn’t work? That’s the same place you would be if you didn’t do it. Isn’t it better that you tried and failed than not tried at all. Besides either way you will have learned something and with that you succeed. I think about this as a try new subjects and photographic directions. Some of my best photos were risks, something I wasn’t sure was going to work but I gave it a shot.


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