Like any art form, photography can get stale sometimes, and it can be difficult to get inspired for a new project. Let’s talk about some easy ideas that you can try to keep things fresh and keep those creative juices flowing, who knows you might find that next new big project you want to do! The key with these ideas is not to try just one photo, but rather try a whole series. When I am trying something new I typically set myself a goal of ten “good” images. What I mean for ten good images is ten images that you would be willing to show to another photographer. So that puts the image quality firmly between an experimental image and one that would go in your portfolio. For me, thinking about a project, even a small one in this manner tends to make me try a bit harder and b more critical of the images I am going to take. I have several of these projects ongoing at all times, and I am always looking out for when I come across something that will fit into one of the projects.
Working outside of your norm
If you primarily shoot in color, consider shooting a project in Black & White. I always have a couple different Black & White projects going and I am not afraid to embrace the cliché’ images, as a matter of fact I have a project going of old buildings that look good in Black & White.
Rather than avoiding a cliché like selective color or HDR, consider a project that embraces the cliché, look for good images that show the cliché done properly.
Consider what you can do to take a tired photo cliché to the next level. How about ten images of good HDR? Not those nasty gritty grimy HDR images? Maybe you can be the photographer to make a model shot on a railroad track look good?
If you shoot primarily studio work consider changing up your setup use just a speedlight or if you shoot with multiple strobes, try doing some low-key work with one light. Consider using a single light and only reflectors and bounce cards to light your subject.
If you are a wedding or event photographer, consider shooting a series of still life images. It doesn’t have to be just flowers, consider everyday objects around your house. Like the next idea, looking at the light falling on your subject can not only teach you about lighting still objects, what you learn can directly apply to your other photography as well.
Change your light. If you shoot with strobes, try constant lights. A couple cheap light clamps and daylight bulbs can be had for around $20 at your local hardware store. Set up a scene or still life and light it with the constant lights.
Consider composition basics
While I generally don’t cite Wikipedia articles, this one seemed rather perfect in clearly defining the pricipals of design and composition:
- Line — the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece
- Shape— areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic
- Colour— hues with their various values and intensities
- Texture— surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions
- Tone— Shading used to emphasize form
- Form — 3-D length, width, or depth
- Space— the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects
- Depth — perceived distance from the observer, separated in foreground, background, and optionally middle ground
Pick an element, do a quick google search for more detailed explanation of the element and go thee forth and make art based on that element. I currently have ongoing projects for each of the elements of design. Sometimes when out shooting and I am not getting any great shots I will fall back to these elements and often I can get a great shot for one of my ongoing projects out of what would be a lackluster shoot.
These ideas can be a bit tougher I have tried them all and I have had a fantastic time and learned a lot. I hope you undertake the challenge!
Shoot 25 good shots of a mundane object. Explore it from every angle and make a mundane object into art! Consider a park bench, a tree or a fence. Explore angle, form, depth of field, color and texture to get you started.
Do a 365 project. You don’t have to start a photo a day project at the beginning of the year, start it today. Pick a spot or an object and shoot it every day. For an additional level challenge, consider shooting the object or subject at the same time each day.
Go out shooting ten times, only in manual mode and take only one photo. Go to a great park and just walk around and look for that perfect angle or subject. Consider your camera setting carefully and only take one shot. If you don’t get it then stop and try again tomorrow or next time. I LOVE this challenge and still do it from time to time to keep my camera skills at their best. No cheating and shooting in Program, Av or Tv mode now!
There you have it, your inspiration for the day! Now Get out there and get shooting!