Sunday, January 6, 2008

Are you Creative enough?

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions as an official event Jan 1st, I do like to explore new endeavors and ways of doing things. I like to find challenges that will push me further ahead in my passion.

For most of us the road to better photography tends to follow a standard path, unless you woke up one morning and decided to become a great photographer and pursued this like a university degree or with relentless artistic passion.

Self Directed Outing to shoot early spring flowers

We get a camera, learn how to operate it, start taking some good tourist type images. We then explore basic compositional elements and creative technical modes with our camera and we now produce ‘good’ pictures. We place them on web sites and for the most part get nice comments, not really meaningful but they make us feel good. We sell a few prints. Life now seems great, but is there something missing? It could be the need for peer recognition, or to create a lasting monument with collection of photos that will stand the test of time.

Local Camera Club B&W Print competition ‘Bridge’

How to constantly renew and expand our artistic skills cannot be found through a formula but must be different for each person.

I definitely don’t have all the answers but here are some methods that have worked well for me and I am sure there are many more, which I haven’t thought of, that will help you to kick up your creative juices. The underlying thread in most of these suggestions is that there is someone else directing or pushing you.

Monthly web photo club theme ‘Windows’

This would apply to any artistic medium.

Support and Learning

Join a local Photography Club
A camera club provides communicable settings where you can have face-to-face discussions about almost anything related to photography. Through the interests of others you can share in new experiences. Most clubs, as one of their main activities, hold photo-judging nights, where members enter Themed and sometimes Open categories and winners accumulate points for future advancement and awards.

Join a photography class or school
There are many types of photography evening classes available in local high schools, colleges and sometimes weekends with photography schools.

Join an online photo critiquing community
There are many web based photography communities and forums that range from free to a marginal yearly fee. I haven’t used many as comments are hit and miss but occasionally there are some good suggestions.

Fred Miranda

Free to join, fee for monthly storage. There are weekly and monthly themes where winners receive either free storage or an FM Photoshop action. There are several critiquing forums and the comments are useful.


Free to join. Fee for uploading and storage privileges. The critiquing system used by PhotoSig, gives extra points to the first 3 people commenting. This tends to cause novices to use minimal critiquing to get their comments in first. Occasionally there are some in-depth critiques by well-established members.

Photo Outing with a photo group on Facebook

Enter online photo competitions
There are many sites that have on-line photo competitions either for free or prizes.
If you are concerned about where your images may wind up, do read the fine print in the agreement. You don’t have to read it all as the agreements have standard sections and one will deal with where they can use your image.


This site runs weekly competitions in several categories. Some almost no editing from original digital picture to entries with photo editing allowed. There is a voting system to rate each image. Each member gets a different set of images to vote on. Free membership but limited number of challenges you are able to enter.

Have a fellow photographer give you a project with a theme, no. of final images and a completion date. There may even be the possibility of them critiquing your images.

Use a different type of camera. Borrow or rent a different type of camera and lens.

Take up painting, drawing or any other artistic medium, as this will help you see composition ideas from a different perspective.

Find a great photographer and learn their style by trying to duplicate their techniques or approaches to composition. Do copy to learn, not to imitate.

Photo Blogging
Post your photos and the story on many of the free blogging sites.

From Photoblog shoot. The processing gives a coppery sheen (WB 6,OOO) which may look blue if you monitor is set too high.

Some Photo Projects

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
For every letter of the alphabet a word is created for a photo subject. Find an area or location to shoot and complete within 2-5 hours. This is one of my favourite and my camera club has this as an annual event.

30 sec shoot, then move to another spot
This tends to work well in downtown areas. Walk to a new area and within 30 seconds or any time that works for you (should be short) take a photo. Move to another location and repeat. This works well for 15 min to 1-hour walk-abouts.

Photo Idea Jar
Fill a jar with themes or shooting ideas created by yourself and others. Reach in and grab an item and see where it takes you.

Personal outing
Give yourself a personal outing. Pick a date, some sort of theme, location and get out and take images.

If you are like me, we sometimes need to find new avenues for creativity and most importantly increase the fun.

Please share any ideas or comments you have, as it’s always good to learn new ways.

Niels Henriksen

A Photographer’s Adage

Photography requires growth; you learn, you grow. You stop learning, you stop growing. Those who say they know it all... are either liars, or extremely naïve. The more you know, the more you grow. - Tedric A. Garrison


Shey said...

Good article. Having spent 2007 just taking more photos to rekindle my love of photography, my aim in 2008 is to improve my technique.
I feel one of the best ways to improve your technique is to get outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. The article covers just about every way to do that.
Happy Snapping!

Unknown said...

I agree that once you are comfortable with your work you do need to get out of that comfort zone if you desire to expand your skill and artistic range. The key is to find methods while challenging still give you the fun factor and experience the excitement of learning new things.

The one item I left out was photo excursion workshops. There is a large a varied field of skill, levels and places and while I find these useful, especially if you are attending with a well known photographer who can actually instruct people, it is important that you contact others who have gone on one of these workshops and understand their skill level and their expectations of the workshop.

Niels Henriksen

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great suggestions, Niels. For me, the most important thing is to just to get out and shoot! I have a couple on-going projects that I can always rely on: I shoot round things (especially sewer covers!) or hot pink things or practice panning -- I can't improve or be creative if I'm not shooting :)


Unknown said...

Good point Suellen that with all these ideas on being creative the most important element is just to get out and take pictures.

This weekend I tried something new. I attached my camera about a 1ft up on my monopod and went around downtown trying to take photos from a lower viewpoint with an 18mm lens to capture a wide perspective. Being that it is winter and everyone is fully dressed I did not worry about capturing any inappropriate shots. I hope to in the future to pull a few images together to show in this blog.

If you have a web site, I would like to see some of your on-going projects.


Niels Henriksen

Harry Snowden said...

Great advice to get up and running with your camera


Related Posts with Thumbnails