We’ve all been there…
Camera in hand, ready and willing to take the shot, but a lack of creativity gets in the way.
It happens from time to time, and not just to beginning or intermediate photographers, either.
We all lose inspiration, and a great way to get that inspiration back is to try something a little different than what you normally do.
If you need to get your creative juices flowing, give these easy, yet beautiful ideas a try.
Blur on Purpose
Whether you use a slow shutter to blur the movement of water, pan with your subject to blur the background, or simply extend your shutter speed to blur the movement of people walking around, there’s a bunch of different ways to get blur in your images.
Heck, you can even go the abstract route and induce camera shake to create something that requires the viewer’s interpretation to determine what it is.
The point is that the vast majority of photos are tack-sharp and crystal clear. And because of that, a shot with motion blur stands out from the crowd.
What’s more, blurring on purpose requires you to think a bit differently about the scene – like focusing on movement and how you can portray it.
That’s the kind of challenge that will help you get back to optimal creativity.
Try a Double Exposure
Back in the days of film, double exposures sometimes occurred as an accident, but boy did they look cool.
Today, digital photography allows us to use double exposures as a creative outlet, and it’s never been easier.
In fact, some cameras even have a setting that allows you to blend exposures in-camera. If you don’t have that feature at your disposal, programs like Photoshop make double exposures pretty easy as well.
Tell a Story
If you really want a creative challenge, focus on using your images to tell a story.
This can be done with a single image, like focusing on a specific emotion, like love or happiness that’s evident in the photo below.
However, a greater challenge might be to create a sequence of images that tell a larger story.
By working on a diptych or a triptych, for example, you not only have to get creative for two or three photos, but you also have to ensure that those photos are cohesive in a way that continues the story from one frame to the next.
When creating a series of photos, bear the following in mind:
- Emotions, like those described above, can help you tell a story.
- Focus on context – show a different angle or perspective in each shot such that viewers build a better understanding of the scene or situation with each additional image.
- Strive for cohesion from one image to the next. For example, ensure each image has a similar lightness or darkness, and use a consistent editing procedure for each shot.
Something else to consider when telling a story is the sequencing of the images. Be sure that the first image is the opening act, and that subsequent images help the story reach a climax and conclusion.
Look for Patterns
The human eye loves orderliness, and patterns are just one way to indicate structure.
Whether it’s a portrait or landscape, architecture or a street scene, looking for ways to incorporate a pattern will help challenge you to hone your creative eye and incorporate more interesting details.
For example, looking at the image above, you can see all the different repeating patterns going on.
On the one hand, there’s triangular shapes, but on the other hand, there’s also arches. Even the colors and shadows repeat in a nice, neat pattern.
The beauty of this shot is not just in that patterned order but in the simplicity as well. This one, small area of a building in a sea of buildings would go unnoticed by many people, but by zeroing your attention on patterns, you can make good use of them to boost your creativity.
There aren’t many things as challenging for a photographer than working in low-light situations.
Not only do you have to think about adjusting your camera settings for the lack of light, but it also requires you to put more thought into how to use what little light there is to draw attention to your subject in a beautiful manner.
In the portrait above, you can see how working with low lighting brings an element of drama to the image.
Use a Foreground Frame
A great way to take a more creative spin on your photography is to incorporate the use of a foreground frame.
There are a lot of benefits of using a frame in your photos.
On the one hand, you can use the frame to mask something unsightly in the background.
On the other hand, you can use a frame to direct the viewer’s eye toward the primary subject.
Note how the light comes from one light source to the model’s right, giving just enough illumination to show off his facial features, but still being dark enough to leave the background in total shadow.
You can even use foreground elements to create an interesting effect like the grass does in the image above.
Notice how the grasses add shape and texture to the shot, making it a unique portrait that holds the viewer’s interest more than if it were a traditional portrait.
No matter how you do it, focusing on incorporating a foreground frame will help you find that creative spirit you’ve been lacking.
If you’re sick of taking the same old photos, try incorporating water into your images in some manner.
For example, if you’re shooting a landscape, using water in the foreground will help you balance out the exposure. That is, landscapes tend to have bright skies and darker foregrounds, but if you use water as a foreground element, it will reflect light, thus making the foreground brighter.
Water is also obviously a great reflector, so you can get mirror-image shots that help you create something that’s symmetrical and orderly.
Heck, you can even add some splashes of water from the hose to get your kids laughing and smiling for a more authentic portrait.