Are you finding yourself in a creative rut and looking for photography ideas? I get it, winter is often a frustrating time for photographers. It’s cold outside, the weather is gray, cold and flu season depress creativity and it can be hard to pick up your camera.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to get shooting again, here are 7 ideas:
Exploring macro photography is a great way to push yourself to see the world in a new way. You can either shoot with a dedicated macro lens, or choose a lens out of your lineup that has a close minimum focusing distance.
For example, my Nikon 45 2.8 lens has a minimum focusing distance of .83 feet, which is actually closer than my dedicated macro (105 2.8) lens’ minimum focusing distance of 1 foot.
The macro, however, has a greater maximum reproduction ratio (1:1, vs the 45’s 1:2) meaning that the photographed object will appear on the camera’s sensor as the same size that it is in real life.
When shooting macro pay special attention to light, line, color, shape and texture. Your macro photographs will not include the entirety of any one thing, so the compositional elements become even more important in order to create a frame that a viewer will want to linger with.
No.02Project 365 or 52
There is nothing better than an everyday commitment to get you shooting regularly. I completed two Project 365s in a row at the beginning of my photography career and credit them as much of the reason for the success and knowledge I have now.
If shooting every day is too much for you, Project 52 (one photo a week) is also incredibly beneficial, especially if that one photo per week requires you to stretch your boundaries and try new skills or techniques.
For either Project 365 or 52, find a group that can support you through the experience. It can be a loose gathering of friends who commit to commenting on each other’s images, or a structured cohort who critique and encourage on a schedule.
Whatever the group looks like, social support is essential in motivating and creating accountability for a project as intensive as 365/52.
Sometimes a photography rut is the result of simply feeling as though you don’t have anything new or interesting to shoot. It’s completely understandable, but also untrue! Shoot in a different genre, find an Instagram hashtag theme to shoot for, take on a personal project.
There are many options for stepping outside of your routine photography subjects. Once you get started with your new theme, do stay open to change, as often the best photographs are the ones that you weren’t expecting to capture.
Themed shooting has a way of developing a mind of it’s own, which can be a very good thing.
No.04Shoot Outside (or Inside)
Do you mainly shoot outside? Or are you an inside documentarian? Challenge yourself to do the opposite. If you’ve spent the bulk of your photography career outside, set up a session indoors.
Choose theme, light source/type, subject and mood to challenge your skills and style. If you love to photograph indoors, get outside! Embrace full sun at noon, or try your hand at street photography.
No.05Try a New Editing Style or Technique
I am definitely an advocate for creating a defined personal style. Doing so helps to give you a recognizable, developed voice and promotes your ability to communicate via your photography. However, I am also a firm believer in persistently learning new skills.
Editing is one of the areas of photography that is continually advancing, technologically, and so I find great value in consistently challenging myself to try new things.
Read a book on your editing program of choice, watch a few YouTube edit walk-throughs, buy some new presets and spend some time breaking them down to figure out how the creator made the effect that the preset gives….
You needn’t totally change your approach to editing, but time spent learning is never wasted, and with regards to editing usually results in at least one new trick picked up for time-saving or creativity purposes.
No.06Day in the Life
If you ever want to push your creativity in a time constrained and pressure packed situation, Day in the Life is the project for you! The premise is simple- photograph your day such that an outside observer (or yourself, looking back in 5 years) could immediately understand what you did and how it felt to be you.
The execution is much more involved than you might think. With a whole day to shoot, you need to very purposefully mix and match variables of perspective, distance to subject, light use, compositional tricks, etc. in order to end up with a set of images that is rich and engaging.
An entire day’s worth of pictures shot from adult standing height, straight on to the subject, with subject filling ½ of the frame is going to lose viewer attention quite quickly.
When you do choose to shoot a DITL, make sure you get in the frame, too! It is your day that you’re documenting, after all.
The last idea brings us to my final thought. Self portraits have been an important part of my photography for as long as I’ve had a DSLR. I really am my own best model, because I take direction well, sit very still and don’t lose patience with the modeling gig before achieving the photo in my mind’s eye.
Also, I find value in being in front of the camera. I learn much about posing, camera angles and light use by figuring out how to present my own body and face in the best light.
Beyond the photographic benefit of working on self portraits, there is much to be said for making sure that you, as the family photographer, exist within your family’s photographic record. As a valuable member of the family, you deserve to be in those albums or books, too.
I hope that you’ve found an idea that sparks your interest in this list. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!