how to combat creative fatigue

by | Mar 10, 2021

whether you call it burnout or block – creative fatigue happens even to the artsiest among us. when you work too much or grind too hard: you reach a threshold where the winning combo of inspiration and hustle just doesn’t deliver. if you’re feeling this right now: I SEE YOU. the pandemic has made it especially challenging to stay fresh with our work. 

often: creative fatigue isn’t a symptom of not having good ideas. sometimes our ideas just get a little lost. or weighed down. here’s how I see it: creative fatigue is a symptom of being too committed to the SAME ideas—or of being too committed to working on your own.

here are two quick & easy ways to change your surroundings and kickstart your creative brain:

instead of functioning in creative isolation, choose creative collaboration

one of the best (and easiest) ways to fire up your creativity is to find someone to collaborate with. working on a creative project by yourself can feel like bouncing a ball against a wall. no matter how many times you throw it—it’ll always come back in the same way. but when you add another person: you get unpredictability. new patterns. and fun.

you don’t have to work with this person—or even work in the same field. I’ve collaborated with people whose jobs are far more technical than mine. the goal is to find someone who you can bounce your ideas off of. riffing with someone else can help you to reframe your thoughts and turn a good idea into a great one. 

surround yourself with media that inspires you

this is a two-step process.

first: unfollow those accounts that kill your inspiration. anything that bores you. tires you. or makes you sad. I’m talking about pages on Instagram. Twitter. TikTok. even YouTube. get rid of the stuff that doesn’t make you feel refreshed.

second: seek out recommendations for brands. businesses. and people to replace the ones you unfollowed. these accounts should be completely new to you. they should provide you with fresh insights, different ways of looking at the world. at products. and even unique ways of thinking. before you know it: you’ll find a fresh feed of inspiration every time you open your phone. 

one of the greatest benefits of the internet is that it enables us to find people to collaborate with and draw inspiration from. when we tap into the wide variety of types of people. voices. and communities it offers: we can change how we think about ourselves + our brands + and our stories. 

capture action shots

since customers aren’t able to test your product the way they would in a typical IRL shopping trip – it’s up to your content to do the testing for them. your photos and videos should show the texture of your product. what it looks like being applied. how long it takes to absorb or dry. give your customers the context they need to imagine the product as part of their daily lives.

consistency is key

your customers want to click from product to product and see similar quality images. deliver consistent images by ensuring your brand identity is cohesive — if you have hard shadows and neon backdrops on one product but natural surroundings on the next: you may be confusing your target audience. here are some ways to ensure consistency:


reate a moodboard for reference to ensure you’re delivering your brand’s message. refresh this moodboard as you develop new ideas and products.

consider seasonal content drops

a summer drop might utilize a linen background and sliced citrus props while your winter drop might include a sprinkle of sequins and dark silk texture.  separating these drops allows you to highlight your products in a way your audience will be more likely to be interested in at that time.

being consistent with your content also means being consistent across all your channels. your entire customer journey should feel like one extended experience. think about how you’re representing your brand and products on your website. emails. and social media platforms. all your channels should all have a similar vibe that captures your brand personality.

use natural light

natural light is free and can make for gorgeous product photos. catch those shimmery tones or creamy textures in natural light by thinking ahead: which window gets the best light? what time of day? what angle? if you’re DIY-ing your shoot: having a photo station set up in the appropriate place will allow you to optimize your time to get the perfect shots. if you plan to work with a photographer or a photography service: make sure to add your lighting preferences to your shotlist (more on that later).

backdrop color

you know the importance of color as a cosmetic brand. if you created a moodboard for consistency (as mentioned above) this is a great time to refer back to it. your background is a crucial message to your customer: it informs them about your brand content in a subconscious way. here are some examples of the what a background communicates:

  • use a white or light blue background if your brand says “I’m fresh and clean”
  • use desert sage and warm sandy tones to say “I’m the outdoorsy type”
  • go with millennial pink to say “I’m youthful and glowy”
  • pick a shadowy mirror backdrop to say “I’m edgy and bold”

if you’re looking for another way to make your content pop: consider using a textured backdrop to help show off your brand personality. we love using unique textures like cellophane to bring depth to a shot!

camera type

if you’re DIY-ing your photoshoot – make sure you have a camera capable of taking high-quality images! for high-quality shots: we recommend using a DSLR camera with manual exposure and aperture settings. soona photographers use Canon Mark IV. you can rent equipment from local camera shops but even an iPhone camera will do in a pinch. switch to portrait mode to optimize detail and get creative in an editing software like Pixlr or Canva.

the right camera lens

if you want to really invest in sharp photos for your makeup or cosmetics: invest in a macro lens. Canon recommends EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro. this is a great option for getting shots of your palette or product in the packaging. a macro lens will pick up on the texture and fine details the best. for photos of your product on a model or swatched on skin: use a 50mm or 85mm lens. 50mm lenses will capture more of your background surroundings while 85mm lenses will focus the face of your model more closely. again: utilize portrait mode on an iPhone if you’re just starting out and these lens options are less accessible.

utilize diverse models

be cognizant not to use the same skin tone in every swatch or model shot. it can feel alienating to your customer if they see all makeup colors or products on the same type of skin. leverage friends for swatch shots. diversifying your models is extremely important in ecomm. especially if you want to show off color matching or color transfer. it is worth the investment to hire models to ensure each customer can picture your product fitting seamlessly into their lives.

explore GIFs

gifs. are. game. changers. we’ve all been to the make-up store and smeared lipstick shades on the back of our hands to see how well they glide. your ecomm customers want to see the product in action. they want such quality gifs that they feel confident in how the product will apply when they purchase it. create an immersive experience from afar by showing a makeup brush dip into a powder. a shimmer tapped across a cheekbone. a spooly fluffed into a brow. GIFs take your product from static to dynamic.

clean packaging

that macro lens will pick up every little speck. before your shoot day ever arrives you should make sure your packaging is clean and scuff-free before you begin photographing to save yourself time & money in the editing stage. this includes examining product containers as well. it’s also important to be prepared with multiples of each product. it’s common to use up an entire product for each photo. when it comes to makeup photography: you often need to demolish the palette to show it off. designate one unit to smear around and play with and another to keep pristine. to help with this, we’ve shared some prep tips.

pretty props

you want your props to accentuate your product & help tell your brand story. here are some examples of minimal and affordable props that make your cosmetic photos pop:


  • colored blocks
  • fresh fruit
  • flowers
  • water
  • mirrors

create shotlist

whether you’re working with a team or solo: a shotlist will keep your photography focused and cohesive. the shotlist is where you jot down the abstract concepts that make your shoot a work of art. articulate your creative vision for the backdrop. color scheme. mood. lighting. props. this helps you stay organized in planning and executing your shoot.

hire help

if you’re feeling intimidated by the cost of time & materials to DIY your shoot: it may make more sense to hire a local photographer or photography service company – like soona. you can see the cost and pros & cons of each in our complete product photography guide

getting started with makeup/cosmetic photography

now that you’re equipped with tips for top-notch makeup + cosmetic photography: it’s time to create! begin with an affordable and fun approach to try out which methods work best with your brand. design your photoshoot around your budget and have a blast bringing your vision to life.

here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’re ready to create:

plan your shoot

use that moodboard! make sure your creative direction for color. feeling. demographic. and timeline is all in harmony. this is a great time to organize your thoughts into a shotlist which will become your survival guide for prepping and executing your shoot  – even if you’re hiring a photographer to help you out.

gather your equipment

whether you’re renting or going with what you’ve got on hand: make sure your materials are all in one place. ready to capture the best natural lighting at the best time. if you have a table or set near your best window: get your backdrop and props staged.
if you’re working with a pro photographer: this is when you need to gather any special props you are providing for your shoot – you’ll know exactly what to get based on that fabulous shotlist you made! this is also the time to source and hire any models you may be using.

collect the goods

remember: you may need to use multiple products to get the shots you want. plan to use one product for swatching. smearing. modeling. and the other to keep pristine for those macro shots. make sure your packaging is clean and in working order for demos.


refer back to your shotlist to make sure you have the amount of photos you need for each product: color. model. angle. demo. etc. you don’t want to have to go back after cleanup. so snap every possible photo you think you might want before moving on to the next product. you’ll have a blast going through your final results and deciding which photos hit the content jackpot.

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