2/09/2011

How To Shoot More Creative Photos

Last night I attended a presentation at the Katy Photographers Meetup group by a local amateur photographer named Adam Watts. Adam says he only started shooting in 2009 with a Nikon D40, but in those three short years he has passionately pursued the craft. His work is really great, you can check it out on Flickr here. Flickr also played a HUGE role in my development as a photographer, as a source of learning and feedback. If you want to improve your photography I highly recommend sharing your photos in specific groups on Flickr and asking for feedback. Also immerse yourself in other people's work and don't be afraid to ask questions about how they did it.

I don't want to totally rip off Adam's presentation but I do want to share with you some of his key ideas that I wholeheartedly agree with. This is not the technical stuff of how to take photos, this is finding your vision. One remark that I agree with and often need to be reminded of is that creativity can be learned. It's like a muscle that needs to be exercised or else it will atrophy. Kids are born with creativity, I see it in them every single day. Eventually though the routine of adult life gets in the way. I heard a great quote last night.

The chief enemy of creativity is common sense. - Picasso

One tip that Adam suggested was simply to change up your routine. Drive a different way home from work than you normally would and look for inspiration.

Another tip that has really worked for me is to change your perspective. That means sometimes climbing up high and looking down on something to see it differently, or getting flat on the ground and looking at the world through a "worm's eye view". This is why I always were comfortable shoes and clothing when I go to a photoshoot, even if it's a wedding. As much as I like looking nice, wearing high heels is not really conducive to   getting into the positions necessary for truly great photographs.

Another important tip Adam gave is to "be weird and ignore what people might think." That goes along with getting into strange positions for photos. This also includes taking your camera everywhere with you, including lots of public places like restaurants and the grocery store. If you want great pictures, take it EVERYWHERE. Take lots of pictures, even if it's just with your iPhone. Adam said the thing that pushed his development was taking on a 365 project, where you take and share online a photo every single day, whether you feel like it or not.

I took this with a really old point and shoot camera.
Finally, forget your gear. Quit spending time thinking that if you only had a better camera or this other lens that your photos would be so much better. I can't tell you how ticked off I get when I hear someone say "Oh your photos are so much better than mine because you have a better camera." Gear is nice, but it has nothing to do with creativity and mastery. Master the gear you have now so that you don't have to think about the settings to capture your vision, it's second nature. Focus on the vision. A great way to practice this, something I do frequently, is to only take one camera body and one lens with you on a photowalk.



So now it's your turn. Fill in the blank. "I exercise my creativity muscles by _________"

4 comments:

Mainline Mom said...

I am always encouraged to hear that creativity can be *learned.* Hurrah!
Love the bit about perspective, too...it really does help, esp. when photographing children!

Mainline Mom said...

Yes I'm always encouraged by this too, especially since I'm an engineer! I ought to be as uncreative as they come, right?

Mainline Mom said...

Hi I jumped over from Los' blog when I noticed your response about creativity. Great points on looking for different angles and ignoring your equipment. When I was in high school I had a great photo teacher. I had an old box camera my dad had from WW2, the other kids had expensive gear... I always got the best grade because it had to be about the eye.. the vision for me. Also he gave me some great advice that served me well in all my years doing album cover photography and multi-media work... and also is true now as I teach music... he said in any creative venture you should become so familiar with your equipment that you don't have to think about any more, it becomes an extension of you, and you can focus on being creative. That's sooooo true. When I was shooting all the time for a living, I wanted to be in the moment with my subjects, not worrying about the lighting. When I'm leading worship I don't want to be thinking about my guitar. Putting that extra time to develop the skill ahead of time makes it a lot easier to be truly creative. :) Great blog post.

Mainline Mom said...

Wow, thanks for the thoughtful and rockin' comment! Agree on all points, the speaker talked a lot about how he had recently bought a few VERY old film cameras and it was such a different experience learning to master that equipment. I try to shoot daily and shoot lots of different subjects and styles just to keep on top of my skills. I also do a ton of prep work and research before shoots so that I can make the best use of my time with the clients. The same goes for my writing, here and other places...the more I write, the more the creative juices flow.

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