Thursday, January 15, 2015

8 Ways to Get More Creative with your Photography

Do you ever feel like you're in a shooting rut? Or just need a little boost to getting more creative shots? Well here are 8 ways to get more creative.

1. Be crazy, have fun
If you're not having fun with your photography it'll show. Don't be scared to look silly to get the shot! It's amazing how much of a difference your point of view can make in getting the shot. So climb benches, lay down in the grass, squat with your butt sticking out, stand in the street... whatever floats your boat! Just make sure you play it safe. Always have a car spotter to watch for cars, try to shoot when there isn't a lot of traffic, don't hang off your balcony on the 12th floor obviously. Unless of course you're totally decked out in full rappelling gear a la Mission Impossible style.

2. Try new things
Get outside your comfort zone and try new things. Are there subjects you'd like to shoot but are nervous about? Shoot them! If you'd love to shoot portraits but you've never done it before, get some friends to be your models. Maybe you've never taken pictures at the art museum. Just ask what the policies are for photography and go for it. Think of things you've never shot before or that are outside your comfort zone and try a few.

3. Work on composition
Most of the time really compelling photography has elements of composition and design. Combining these elements can take a ho-hum photo to wow. There's rule of thirds, lines, point of view, just to name a few. The different elements of composition and design is a pretty big subject. Studying up on composition and working on regularly including it in your photography will really help you be even more creative. So pick one (or two) and try adding them to what you're shooting. With the elements of composition and design, a regular ol' garage staircase can turn into this...

4. Break the rules
Yes, I just told you guys to work on composition. Now I'm telling you to break the rules! When I say break the rules, I mostly mean composition but it also applies to lighting and exposure. In your photography journey you'll meet all kinds of people. Sometimes you'll meet old school photographers who are strict rule abiders. Yes, these people insist that you should never ever ever ever shoot outside unless it's the most perfect soft light - or they'll tell you to never shoot towards the sun. Well hello, if you do that then how will you ever get sunflare?

You might also find that no matter how you want to compose the shot, doing so may lose the moment. Or maybe you just think the image looks crazy cool just the way it is and poo on the rule of thirds. We'll it's totally cool to break the rules sometimes! That's the beauty of photography, we have this amazing creative process and ultimately it's what you the photographer wants to shoot that's important. Be creative and break the rules if you want.

5. Play with lenses
One of the best things about shooting with a DSLR (or a point and shoot with interchangeable lenses) is that you can shoot with different lenses. Shooting with different lenses can open up a whole new world of creativity. There's the fish eye lens that adds a curve to your images. If you shoot really close to your subject with a fish eye you'll get crazy distortion!  Ultra wide lenses really let you see the big picture and true macro lenses let you get super close to your subjects. In fact if you find yourself thinking there's nothing to take pictures of, try shooting in macro.

6. Shoot for yourself
Taking time out to shoot for yourself is really important to fuel your creativity, so be sure to plan shoots just for you! For wedding photographers this could mean planning a highly stylized and whimsical wedding shoot they would just love to shoot. For portrait photographers it could be that styled photo shoot for a certain look you want.

Maybe you don't shoot professionally (or you do and you need a personal break) again, it's still really important to shoot for yourself! Did you start shooting to take pictures of your family? Continue to document the special people in your lives but consider shooting a series. You could take photos of colorful doors whenever you see them, or shoot some special collections you have. Try taking a photo an hour of your day or make a date with your camera to head out and shoot a new place just because. Doing so will help fuel your creativity and keep your art fresh.

7. Live life
One of the most important things to help you get creative is to just live life! It's so easy for us to get swamped with the every day: work, chores, social media. This is especially true if you fall into the pattern of too much time on the computer - you risk not actually getting out there and living life. If you spend too much time in the mundane your creative mojo is at risk of just being routine.

So yes, living life is oh so important and I can't stress this enough. Make time to just live life and have fun. Do creative stuff other than photography: paint, bake, read books, visit museums, get outside. If you shoot professionally you might find that it's even better to leave the big camera at home and just take photos with your phone. Sometimes we just gotta take a break and live life.

8. Get unfocused
What's bokeh? Just those dreamy, unfocused balls of light in an image... usually light behind our subject in focus. You'll need to shoot in manual to get this kind of shot (otherwise your camera will keep fighting you and changing the settings to get a proper exposure.) Let's say you have a strand of lights and you just want to create a blur of colorful lights... all you have to do is set your exposure for the shot then turn off the manual focus on your lens! Turn the focus ring to purposely make those lights out of focus and tada! Instant bokeh without a subject, just pretty blurs of colorful light!

So try your hand at being more creative in photography. Don't be afraid to look silly, try new things, work on composition and even break the rules. Play with different lenses, try shooting out of focus and most importantly take time to shoot for yourself and just live life!