We are all guilty of this as photographers at one time or another…There are times when we are stuck shooting on the same set of settings or generally shooting the same types of imagery. I raise my hand and count myself one of these people. I am using the above image today because we don’t want to become stale and rusty with our creativity.
It happens to me occasionally and I always try to analyze the work that I am doing periodically to see where I can make changes and what I can do differently. Photography like any creative pursuit has its own set of challenges when it comes to the creative process and coming up with fresh ideas for your work. Try these six steps the next time you are out shooting and see what happens with your work!
1. Use a different lens – My main shooting lens is a Canon 17-40mm F4 wide-angle lens and over the past several weeks it has gone back to Canon twice for dust removal. While I am waiting I have been forced to work with my Canon 50mm F1.8 lens and what a joy creatively this lens has been to use. Because of the tight framing with a 50mm, The lens has made me really fine tune my compositions and really hone in on what I want to show in the image. With a zoom you can sometimes become lazy with the composition because you are not moving. With a 50mm lens you have to move around more to find the right shot. Change your lens and your perspective!
2. Think outside the box and over or underexpose your images – I know it goes against everything you have learned but over or underexposed images can be a great exercise in creativity. Everything in life is not perfect nor in photography is everything perfectly exposed. I have seen some amazing examples on the internet and in print of over and underexposed images. Use a really fast shutter speed in the middle of a sunny day or overexpose a sky and see what happens.Be bold and get out of the box!
3. Get away from the familiar and explore new areas – I am a huge fan of going back to a familiar location time and again however any photo explorer worth his salt must get an itch to explore and shoot new places now and again. Seeking out the unfamiliar gets the creative juices flowing and allows you to think fast and make new and creative imagery. Expand your horizons and your photo possibilities!
4. Go for the detail shot – It’s always easiest with a wide-angle zoom to want to try and shoot everything in that grand vista and fill the frame with it. Always remember to look for the detail shot within that grand vista. Explore every possible shot and hone in on whats most important in your composition. Waterfalls are nice but often you can zoom in to a particular detail and get a much better, focused image than a wide-get-everything-in-the-frame shot. Don’t forget the small details and simplify your compositions!
5. Review your images, Look for patterns you set and do the opposite – Every few months I do image reviews to push myself creatively and see where I can be doing things different or better. I love shooting landscapes but for me this can become stale after a while and I will switch up to doing portraits or a paid commercial job will come along. I try with my limited shooting time to really keep things fresh. When you keep doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results it is time to try something new. Dare to be different!
6. Experiment with near to far perspective – I shoot a ton of landscapes here in Vermont but lately I have been experimenting with perspective and not having everything in the image frame totally sharp. As a rule you want your landscape and nature shots to be sharp but sometimes this can be boring for me. I am really loving a little softness in an image to draw my eye into and around a photograph. Use your focus points in your d-slr and look for near/far relationships in your compositions. It will do you a world of good and it makes for some exciting photographs!