Have you ever hit that photographic block where you just don’t seem to be able to create ‘amazing’ pictures; I take many, many photographs yet am rarely satisfied that I have created an awesome shot. With this in mind I thought it a good idea to make a list of ideas to inspire other serious amateurs, after all the whole point of this blog was to get my own creative juices flowing in the coming new year.
Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why’. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information. – Man Ray
We’ll start with the more common ideas and move on from there:
1. Start a 365 project
A commitment to a photograph a day project will ensure that you take the camera out EVERY day and you will be forced to find new things every day to capture and look at in new perspectives.
2. Start an A-Z Project
Start with an object that begins with the letter A or has some relevance to the letter A and continue on through the alphabet. The beauty of this type of project is that you’re always on the look-out for subjects; this in turn helps you to see things through fresh eyes.
3. Start a Numbers Project
As with the A-Z project, look out for interesting ways to photograph numbers.
4. Try Macro/Close Up Photography
Macro photography and close ups offer a wonderful world of opportunities, especially for creating fine art. Pay close attention to composition, lines, textures, use of colour (quite often macro images lend themselves very well to black and white photography) and pretty soon you should be able to create some striking captures.
5. Variations and Viewpoints
Choose an object/subject and photograph it from different perspectives. Create seven to ten different images; try to make them as unique as possible.
6. Visit Art Galleries and Museums
Great places to look for inspiration; also rules of composition and other factors that make images outstanding are the same whether a painting or a photograph. The artworks may even inspire a project topic to focus on.
7. Look at Details
Before taking any images in a location have a really good look around; are there any interesting details to close in on, patterns and textures in surfaces, light and shadow, look up, down, left right, behind you, step back, get in closer, look for details in floors, staircases, windows and so on.
8. Get Down
Try getting down on the ground and shooting up or outward for interesting new perspectives. Alternatively climb up on a wall, ladder or a chair and look down.
9. Look at Photography Sites
There are many photo sites loaded with fantastic images for inspiration and ideas. Try to emulate styles and images that you have thought exceptional. Try Flicker or my personal favourite: www.500px.com , where you can upload your images and get rated by fellow photographers.
10. Go to the Market
Markets of any kind are great places to find sheer variety of topics, colours, textures and people. Opportunities abound.
11. Think About Something You Love (Other than Photography 🙂 )
Whether it is a pet, another hobby, a child, the garden, a cause; whatever it is that you feel passionate about, start creating images of it. Try to evoke the emotion in others that the particular subject invokes in you.
12. Try Self Portraits
Get brave, try different angles and poses, use props – this is a great way to teach yourself about poses that work and those that don’t. Create an image that tells your story.
13. Shoot On A Rainy Day
Oh Yes, it’s all too easy to sit indoors on a rainy afternoon but the rain and clouds often give a dark feel to photographs, people are rushing here and there the sky is dramatic with heavy clouds; it’s a great time to create very moody and evocative images – there’s plenty of opportunities for reflections too in puddles and on window panes. Also, rainy days lend themselves to black and white work very well.
14. Try Different Camera Settings
The same shot can have a very different feel about it depending on the aperture size and shutter speed. Try using different white balance pre-sets to add tones in-camera. Use different focal lengths on your zoom lens. Choose a single subject or object and take multiple shots changing just one setting at a time – see what new insights you receive.
15. Find a Mentor or Muse
Two heads can be better than one. If you can make friends with someone experienced in the photography world you will be able to bounce ideas off each other and hopefully learn new techniques and skills. A mentor will generally give you guidance, support and encouragement; in fact most photographers I have found are happy to give newbies advice and tips freely.
A muse is a person who you can get to know and work with closely for mutual benefit. A good muse will inspire you and add their own creative perspective to any project. A photographer will generally only work with one muse for a period of time; during which a close relationship and understanding will develop. A muse is not the same as ‘time for prints’ models.
16. Choose a Colour
Choose a colour and shoot as many unique objects as possible of that colour. This will create a lovely theme set to which you can add and create a rainbow project in its entirety. This project again encourages you to look at the objects around you with renewed interest.
17. Back Over Old Ground
Revisit places you have already been, particularly at different seasons, this will give you a different view and completely different feel to the same shot. Also go back over old photographs you have stored and re-examine them, open your photo editing software and try processing techniques you’ve not tried before.
18. Note Down Ideas Immediately
If you’re anything like me you will have random ideas for photography pop into your head at times when you do not have a camera in your hand and even when you’re falling asleep at night. It is a great idea to immediately jot down any ideas you have so that you do not forget them. This is where your iphone, ipad, ipod or whatever other method you have of making a record is invaluable. All too often we have a great idea and then it goes into the back of our mind and gets forgotten amongst all the other ‘stuff’ we have to do.
Keeping a record of ideas is perfect to refer back to for those lack lustre days when inspiration seems so far away.
19. Brainstorm the Elements of A Perfect Photograph
Sit down with a pen and paper (or whatever media device you prefer if you’re not antiquated like me);write down all the things you love about other photographers work. What makes a portrait, scene, or object capture perfect for you? I myself love a portrait to evoke a feeling or memory, I love expression and use of body parts; or in architectural photos I love clean, straight lines, symmetry and balance. Write down everything that you like about particular favourite images.
Now look at the list: This is what you should be incorporating into your own photographs. So next time you’re composing your shot think about all the elements you can incorporate. Taking time to think about the composition carefully will add great impact to your images.
I know this is something I very much need to work on myself.
20. Take A Camera EVERYWHERE – SHOOT EVERYDAY
This is ultimately THE BEST way to improve photography skills and find inspiration. Walk everywhere with your eyes wide open, notice the play of light as it enters a window, the tone of light at different times of the day, pick up mundane objects and turn them over in your hands, do they inspire any thoughts? Notice angles, patterns and symmetry around you, notice the beauty and variety of human faces as people pass you by. Walking in a street or park gives so many, many opportunities. Learn to keep your eyes and mind open.
If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it. – Jay Maisel
This is my list of activities for the coming year, I hope it helps you, maybe there’s an idea here you’ve not thought of before or perhaps the list serves as a reminder of projects and ideas you started but never finished. Either way I hope it re-energizes your creativity. Thank you for reading.
I would love to hear other ideas for projects and inspiration so please do comment.