It’s hard to be creative in a time of pandemic and recession. It feels like beauty and art are the last things we should be thinking about when we’re barely surviving, and so many in the world are suffering.
But creativity can be a force for good in times of upheaval. In her book “When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity and the Transforming Illness,” artist and psychologist Tobi Zausner inferred that engaging in creative activities like art therapy or expressive writing can help facilitate the rebuilding and healing process after trauma. And make no mistake: What the world is experiencing is collective trauma.
Even though it may feel counterintuitive, picking up your camera can be just the thing you need in this unprecedented time. Here are tips to stay creative and safe while taking pictures amid a pandemic.
Get some fresh air and go for a photo walk.
Since many of us are working from home, we’re more prone to cabin fever and find ourselves restless, irritable, and lacking ideas. The way to combat this is to leave our homes from time to time. There is a way to do this that will keep you and others safe—always wear your mask and maintain a safe distance from other people.
Even doing something as simple as leaving your house and getting some fresh air can inspire imagination. Studies show that spending even as little as five minutes around trees or green spaces can improve one’s mood and ability to focus.
If you find that you’re suffering from a creative block, consider walking around your neighborhood or going to the park. Bring your camera with you and take photos, even if you don’t think they’re perfect.
Enjoy the quiet.
The intermittent lockdowns may not have done the economy any favors, but they did significantly decrease all kinds of pollution. Take this time to enjoy the cleaner air, the lack of cars on the road, and being alone on the streets.
Take photos of places that used to be crowded but are now empty. Who knows, maybe you can even create a photography series out of it.
Listen to music.
On the flip side, some positive-sounding music can also help stimulate creativity. A 2017 study found that happy music helped induce divergent creativity or the ability to think of many possible ways to reach a solution.
If you find you’re losing your ability to find fresh angles to shoot from, pop on some uplifting music. It might help you get a new perspective.
Spend time with your family or roommates.
If you only used to shoot professional models, now is a good time to start taking more photos of the people you live with, like your family or roommates. Do a photo journal of your time in quarantine and document how much the pandemic changes them over time, for better or for worse.
Follow social distancing guidelines.
Avoid huge crowds if you can. It may be tempting to take photos of crowds, especially when we’ve been away from people for so long. But it’s in everyone’s best interest if we follow social distancing guidelines.
If you must travel, take every safety precaution possible. Travel is limited at the moment. But for those of us who need to go abroad for work or other essential businesses, avoid places you don’t have to go to only to shoot—like historical landmarks or sites—if they will be filled with tourists who come from different parts of the world. Instead, explore other safe activities and things to do in airports or hotels or other places you have no choice but to be in. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Wash your hands and clean your gear thoroughly.
We know we should clean our cameras and lenses often, but the pandemic has brought on a whole host of reasons why we should be doing this more often and more thoroughly. We often forget about our smartphone as well—there are a lot of standard cleaning gears in the market. Wash your hands and clean your gear as soon as you get home.
From Challenge to Opportunity
Our current situation might bring out our life’s best work if we let it. After all, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Edward Munch kept on painting, and Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron—all in quarantine. It may be tempting to shun art and things that made us happy pre-COVID-19, but it may be exactly what we need to find some semblance of joy and healing.