Ruts are difficult and I think all creative people have different ways to deal with them. Photography is my main creative outlet these days but when I painted and got into a rut I would go back to drawing, collating information, researching and writing in my sketchbooks. I’m not sure how helpful that is, if any help at all lol! Although, I do still keep ‘sketchbooks’ for photography, in which I write ideas, and self critique photos or shoots I have done (i.e. what I liked and went well and what I need to improve for next time), or sketch out thumbnails of compositions I think of or see. Or paste research and images from magazines that I like.
At art school we were always told to not worry about creating ‘art’. Don’t worry if you’re puzzled as I didn’t understand it for years! Basically they meant don’t worry about coming up with something ground breaking or the next best thing, it’s too much pressure. Just make things that are important and meaningful to you, something you like and are proud of, basically don’t try to impress others. To try and create something that blows you and everyone else away, be it a painting, photograph or any other medium, is too much pressure to put yourself under, and becomes demoralising when it doesn’t happen immediately or maybe even after months or even years. These things take time, maybe a life time, and have to be taken in small increments, with 100’s of duds for every one that ‘works’.
Every time I finished a painting I’d like it for the briefest of whiles, then, look at it and only see the glaring faults! Which would compel me to start again, in order to rectify things. I take the same approach to photography and make plenty of mistakes to keep me going! 🙂 So maybe try to pinpoint what it is you don’t like about your photos and shoot to rectify that.