Often beginners in photography are asking me the same question – “How can I become more creative as a photographer?”
I truly believe that it’s creativity that drags our attention to the image. I’ve seen thousands of technically flawless images that meant nothing to me, while sometimes one image with noise and not that perfect light stroke me, because it had unique idea in it.
Originality, idea of the author and unique realization of this idea, that is what matters for me in the photography and art.
Of course there are several good books written about creativity, but I want to give some advice on how to develop photographic creativity.
Some of them I was using myself while growing as a photographer.
1. Personal Project
It’s great to take photos of your friends and family, but what really brings deep meaning is a real project. It can be anything you want (self-portraits, portraits of your family, landscapes, social projects), but you should determine what you are doing as a project.
It is supposed to have all the stages of other projects:
It is when you get the idea of your project. It can be anything that comes to mind and interesting for you, don’t forget that it’s your own project. It can be really crazy if you like it. It can even be connected with your everyday life, like Feet First project by Tim Robinson, where for last 6 years he and his wife have been taking pictures of their feet while traveling.
Or, another project that I find hilarious is “Wave at the bus” by Dale Price.
Here are some simple advises how to prepare and realize your project:
Write down everything you have in mind about the project. It will help you to see what exactly you need to realize it and afterwards will help you as a check list.
You should think what kind of pictures you want to take, how many of them, what will be pictured and what exactly you need for it.
Some projects can be very simple while others are complicated - it depends on your idea and dedication.
Just be sure that you have enough technical skills and budget to realize your project.
You've got everything ready according to your plan and now comes the most interesting part of your project, it’s time to shoot!
Execution consists of several phases, such as organization of the shoot, shoot, post-processing etc.
And last, I would say, the most important part of the project is
You analyze your project, its strength and flaws, mistakes, see what is working for you and find ways to improve things next time.
Sometimes failed projects give you more in terms of learning than successful ones.
I would like to give you some tips for finding ideas for other photo-projects to develop your creativity.
2. Project 365
Main idea of the project is that every day you take one photo. It is supposed to be creative and interesting. I, personally, find it absolutely amazing, as I saw so many miraculous results of development. Can you imagine 365 creative ideas? But because of same reason this project is very tough and complicated, you need to be sure you can dedicate enough time and effort to make it high quality and last all 356 days.
If you take it seriously, results will be amazing. I saw several projects where beginners were growing so fast. You are free to experiment with various styles and subjects, try things, use references and in general have fun. Don’t forget that main thing in life is to get pleasure from whatever you are doing.
Here's a good article on 365 projects
Here is one interesting 365 project by Ted Craig
You can see that author is searching, experimenting with styles, colors, techniques and creative ideas, and of course we can notice his progress with the flow of the time. If you compare first and latest photos you will definitely see the difference.
Unfortunately, most participants drop projects after 1-2 months as it’s not easy to dedicate time on a daily basis.
If you’re not sure you are able to complete the project, I would suggest you to use “cut” version that is called 52 project.
3. 52 Project
It’s all the same, but here you have to produce one creative photo per week. In this case you have more time to come up with the idea and actually get your picture until deadline.
4. Photo Challenge
Another way to become more creative is a photo-challenge. I find it easier than 365. Here you already have a set of themes for pictures. For example, here is one simple challenge:
You have a name (subject) for each picture; it depends on you on what level you take it.
For example “Lips”, you can take a snapshot of lips or come up with something really surrealistic. There is no limit to your imagination. All pictures for the challenge are your personal interpretations of the subjects.
Different group exhibitions show good results for development of creative photography. You take an assignment to create a project on a proposed theme and develop it according to your own vision, but following guidelines of the exhibition.
5. Photo Competition
It is one of my favorite creative-development kickers. Firstly, it usually has great motivation, and in the end you can get a prize. Secondly, to win you really should do your best, because others want to win as well. And even if finally you don’t come first at the end of the race, you will get unforgettable creative experience.
So, if you see an announcement about some contest and you find it interesting, you should definitely try to win it!
By the way, Photodoto is organizing contests from time to time, so don't miss a chance and subscribe!