Posts Tagged ‘Creative’

13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

19 Aug

The post 13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

13 child photography ideas

Children are some of the most rewarding subjects you’ll ever photograph. They bring a sense of fun, excitement, and wide-eyed wonder to a photo session – but photographing children can also feel overwhelming and even a bit chaotic, especially if you’ve never done this type of work for clients before.

These 13 child photography ideas will give you lots to think about before your next session, and can hopefully serve as a starting point for you to think about your own style and techniques, too.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Ask the child to bring a prop

girl on a rock with toys child photography idea
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

Doing child photo sessions can be difficult, but imagine what it’s like for the kids. They’re in a strange location with parents fussing over their clothes, while other people are making faces and telling them to smile. It’s positively overwhelming!

One thing you can do to give the children a sense of calm and peace? Encourage them to bring a prop. Let their parents know beforehand, so they can help the child pick out something special and meaningful.

Stuffed animals, a favorite toy, or even just a photo or some artwork from home can go a long way toward making a photo session fun. These help children feel at ease, and while you can of course bring your own props, they just don’t have the same sentimental value as a prop that means a lot to the child. Years down the line, these props will help add a sense of context to the photos you took, plus parents will enjoy looking back at their children with their favorite toys or dolls long after the actual props have been relegated to a box in the attic.

2. Let kids be kids

two kids being silly
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/80s | ISO 200

Kids see the world differently than adults. They find joy in little things, wear emotions on their sleeves, and march to the beat of their own drums. I have seen many photographers throw up their hands in frustration when working with children because the kids won’t listen to directions. I can certainly relate, especially since I have children of my own! It’s enough to make you want to give up on family photography and work with, say, inanimate objects.

But in these situations, the best advice I have is to just embrace the randomness that kids bring to a photo shoot. Let them be who they are, even if it’s a little goofy, eccentric, or out of the ordinary. Be ready to capture some photos with your camera on its high-speed continuous mode, and don’t be afraid to get your hands or clothes dirty in the process. (I’ve long since learned to wear comfortable pants and sandals to family photo sessions, and to put them in the laundry as soon as I get home!)

The best-laid plans of mice, men, and photographers often go awry, but these fun moments are when you can get some of the most memorable pictures from a photo session.

3. Show their personalities

kids interacting
Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/2.8 | 1/500s | ISO 400

Every kid is unique, and they express themselves in many different ways. One thing you can do to make your photos stand out is to encourage the kids to let their sense of individuality shine through. While the results might not be your own personal favorites, parents love images that capture a sense of who their kids really are.

So whether the child is making a silly face, doing an odd pose, or even picking their nose, moments that capture genuine personality often end up making for the most memorable photos.

By the way, personality-focused photos are a great way to build rapport with children. Kids often come to a photo shoot with a healthy dose of trepidation and skepticism, especially if they have been bossed around by other photographers at previous picture sessions. But if you let them show their personalities, they will usually loosen up and trust you a bit more, which helps when it comes time for more formal pictures, such as group shots or headshots.

4. Photograph the shared special moments

intimate moment between grandmother and child
Nikon D750 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

Authenticity is a special thing. As photographers, we often aim for specific results, and while the resulting shots might be great on a technical level, these formal images can be bereft of substance and emotion. I always try to find a way of capturing special moments, especially between parents and kids, even if the resulting images don’t follow the traditional rules of photography.

Things like holding hands, a warm embrace, a special look, or a shared laugh help peel back the shiny veneer of perfection we often strive for, and instead let us capture something real. You can’t fake these moments; you have to be prepared with your camera so you can capture them if and when they happen.

In the photo above, I captured a grandmother holding her new baby granddaughter, and even though the child is sleeping and most of the adult’s face is not visible, the image tells a story that goes well beyond “Look over here and smile.” In the end, this was one of my clients’ favorite images from the entire session.

5. Go for a walk

parents and child walking
Nikon D750 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/400s | ISO 180

Do you shoot photos on location? Heading out for a walk is a great way to embrace your surroundings while also capturing some really interesting shots that parents and kids will appreciate for years to come. Have your clients take a short walk and document the excursion with your camera. Take shots from the front, from behind, and even from above (if you can find a high vantage point to shoot from).

One of my favorite types of walking shots involves parents holding hands with their kids. This conveys a sense of care and tenderness while also ensuring your subjects are all on the same focal plane. A zoom lens isn’t required, but it certainly is useful, as you’ll spend less time chasing after people and more time taking pictures. Make sure your camera is on its high-speed continuous shooting mode, since you might need 20 or 30 shots to get one that you really like.

And if the children aren’t old enough to walk on their own, just ask the parents to carry them (or give them a ride on their shoulders) for some equally memorable images.

6. Run for it!

children running
Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/350s | ISO 500

This is a tried-and-true technique for getting some outstanding images, and it’s a great way to impress your clients with photos they certainly can’t capture on their own.

Use a zoom lens (preferably a 70-200mm f/2.8 or f/4) and a high-speed continuous shooting mode. I also recommend Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500s. Back-button focus helps, but most modern cameras have such good autofocus that you can usually just rely on that.

Then stand far back from the kids and tell them to run toward you on the count of one…two…three…GO!

Start with your lens zoomed in as far as it will go, then slowly decrease the focal length as the kids run toward you. You only have 5 to 10 seconds to shoot before the children rush past, but that’s usually enough for some great shots. Your number one goal here is to get as many pictures as possible and sort them out later.

Most of your shots won’t be too noteworthy, but some will be amazing and one or two will likely end up printed, framed, and hung on a wall. I recommend briefly reviewing your photos as the kids are catching their breath, and if you’re not certain that you got some good shots, just tell the kids to repeat the exercise.

7. Let the kids play around

one child whispering to another child
Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/250s | ISO 160

This one isn’t always easy to pull off, but if you can catch kids while they are playing, laughing, or joking around, it’s like striking photographic gold. Some photographers choose locations that are more conducive to this type of freeform play, but unless you have your own private playground, it’s not always the simplest thing to do.

Instead, I try to laugh and joke with the kids by telling them a funny story or asking them to do something silly, which often leads them down their own creative rabbit hole.

For the photo above, I told the boy to whisper a joke in his sister’s ear, which made both of them giggle. Then I stepped back and started taking pictures while she told her brother a joke. They went back and forth like that for a while, taking my initial idea and running with it way beyond what I expected.

The kids had a great time just messing around, and I was able to get some photos that their parents absolutely loved.

8. Take photos from above

kids lying together on the bed child photogaphy ideas
Nikon D750 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/125s | ISO 400

Want to take unique shots that will make your clients call you for repeat photo sessions? Bring a ladder along with your camera gear.

Then stand up high – make sure to be safe! – and get some shots of the kids from above. These can be slice-of-life images with the children playing or reading, but I also like to have them look up at me and smile while I take their picture.

One nice thing about overhead photos is that you don’t need any fancy camera gear (such as wide-aperture lenses). Background blur isn’t an issue since the kids are so close to the ground or floor, and the kids usually aren’t moving around too much, either.

This means you can get outstanding images with a basic camera and kit lens. The uniqueness of these shots comes from the camera angle, which is something a lot of people don’t really think about. It’ll make the resulting shots memorable and unique, which your clients will greatly appreciate.

9. Get a group hug!

three kids hugging on a bridge
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/320s | ISO 200

The key to a good group-hug photo is timing. It’s not difficult to have all the kids get together – just tell them to pile on or around the largest child, then start taking photos! The tricky part is knowing when to do it.

If you shoot a group-hug picture early in a photo session, you won’t get the kind of genuine emotions you might otherwise capture. If you get the group hug picture too late, the kids and their parents will be tired and may not be in the mood. However, if you can snag a group hug at just the right time, the results are amazing.

That’s why I like to do group hugs about halfway through a photo session. It’s nice to get to know the families first, do some individual shots, and get photos of the kids with their parents. Then, after about 15 or 20 minutes, everyone is more comfortable – and your clients, especially the younger ones, start to lose a bit of steam. That’s a great time to get some shots of all the kids together!

Doing a group hug injects some much-needed energy into a photo session, helps the kids and their parents relax for a bit, and sets the stage for a successful second half.

10. Read a book

child reading a book
Nikon D7100 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/350s | ISO 200

Every kid has a favorite book. Whether it’s a picture book, a novel, or even a coloring book, these treasures work wonders for your photography. It’s easy to get kids to smile and laugh when you ask them to read their favorite story, and you’ll get the opportunity to capture photos of them lost in their imagination as they turn the pages.

One of the biggest benefits of photographing children with books comes years later and is not readily apparent during the photo session. You see, when parents look at the photos after time has passed, seeing their kids reading their favorite books always brings back a rush of emotions.

11. Bring a four-legged friend

kids and a dog
Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/4 | 1/250s | ISO 100

There’s one surefire way to add a lot of excitement and emotion to a children’s photo shoot: let them bring a pet. When you involve a cat, dog, lizard, or other animal friend in a photo session, you will get plenty of big smiles, genuine emotions, and great shots.

Pets put children at ease and give them something to focus on besides you and their parents, plus these pictures often make for great memories years down the road. However, photographing with pets carries some important risks, so you need to make sure you are prepared.

Pets, even friendly ones, can get nervous and start acting up during a photo session. I have never been bitten by a dog or other animal while shooting, but I have had them nip at me and my camera gear.

Animals can also be moody and uncooperative, which stresses out the parents – and even the children – at times. Generally, what I recommend is involving pets in a small portion of a photo session but not the whole thing.

Have a family member or trusted friend bring the pet in for a few minutes. Shoot some pictures, but then have them take the pet back home. That way, you get the benefit of shooting photos with pets without any of the hassles, and you and your clients can be happy with the results.

12. Get a classic headshot

child photography idea headshot
Nikon D750 | 85mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/250s | ISO 200

There’s a temptation among photographers to try always try something new, break the mold, and chart their own course through the uncertain waters of child photography. And while that’s often a good thing, there is a time for everything under the sun, and this certainly applies to photography.

In other words: when you’re taking photos of children, it’s great to try new, creative, and innovative ideas – but it’s also good to include some of the staples of the genre, such as the classic headshot.

These photos aren’t complicated, but they are often overlooked by new photographers who are eager to try new things. In truth, you can’t go wrong with a traditional headshot, and many of your clients will expect these types of images along with the other, more creative photos you are able to capture.

To get good headshots, use a wide aperture between f/2.8 and f/1.8, make sure your subjects are evenly lit, ask them to look at you and smile, and start pressing the shutter button. If your subject’s attention keeps wandering, have a parent or sibling stand directly behind you (and if your camera has it, use eye-detect autofocus).

The resulting pictures won’t win awards for creativity, but they will look great when printed, framed, and hung on the wall (which is where many of your clients will end up putting them!).

13. Use an initialed prop

child with initialed item
Nikon D750 | 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II | f/3.3 | 1/250s | ISO 400

Remember how I suggested you use a child’s prop? For a fun twist on this idea, ask your clients to bring something with the first letter of their child’s name on it. The object doesn’t have to be fancy, and you might even consider getting your own array of objects as a backup, just in case your client doesn’t have anything that works. The point is to add a bit of personal flair to your child photos – to give them a little extra pizzazz that they might otherwise lack.

This approach works best with very young children, generally no more than 18 months old. If you go much beyond that, it starts to look a bit cheesy and forced, though it can still work with the right prop (say, a t-shirt or jersey that prominently displays a first initial).

My favorite technique is to use simple wooden alphabet blocks. You don’t need to spell out the child’s entire name; just adding their first initial goes a long way toward making a standout photo. It also sends a message to the parents that you care enough to go the extra mile, and this helps lead to repeat business and referrals.

Child photography ideas: final words

My most important rule when taking pictures of children is to make sure they have fun. If the kids are angry, bored, or irritated, it will certainly come through in the photos – and the same goes for you. (After all, a surly photographer is not going to get great shots!)

These 13 child photography ideas should give you plenty to think about as you approach your next session, but at the end of the day, make sure the experience is enjoyable. Relax, take a breath, lighten up, and have a good time. A positive attitude is one of the best things you can bring to any photo event, especially when children are involved.

What about you? What are some of your favorite child photography tips and tricks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 13 Child Photography Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated

03 Aug

The post 12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

12 creative project ideas to get you motivated

Looking for some fun, creative photography project ideas to get you inspired and excited about taking photos?

It’s always good to be involved in a photography project, and in this article, I’m going to share 12 of my favorite project ideas, including 52-week projects, 365-day projects, and more.

So if you’re ready to find the right project for your needs, then let’s get started!

zoom blur technique
Learning a new technique, such as the zoom burst, makes for a great creative photography project.

Before you start your creative photography project

As with anything in life, once you have a project idea, it’s important to think it over and make a clear plan of action. This is a big step toward being successful. So if you have a project in mind, before you actually start snapping photos, consider the following points:

  • Give yourself time. Keep in mind the amount of free time you have. Is it realistic for you to complete the project? There are some projects that take a real time commitment; make sure you have a good plan in place if this is the type of project you decide to tackle. And ask yourself: Are there any important events over the next few weeks, months, or year, such as a wedding or a house move, that might make it difficult to finish?
  • Plan out all the details. If your project is long term, perhaps lasting a whole year, then make a plan for how you’ll achieve it. A 365 project is especially demanding, as you need to take a photograph every day. If you can, plan out every day of the project – and make your plan prior to getting started.
  • Allow for the unexpected. There will be times when you get sick, come home late, or your drive or motivation isn’t quite there. The plan you make for your project should include some easy days. Think of it as cooking ahead and having some frozen food in the fridge ready to reheat. In photography, there are always a number of photos that are very easy to take but still look striking. Keep some easier photos held back for times that you need a break.

12 creative photography projects to energize your work

As a year is 12 months long, I’ve included 12 project ideas (though some of them will take all year, whereas others might only take a weekend). Pick your favorite, or – if you’re ambitious! – choose more than one!

1. The 52-week project

This is a year-long project where you take one photograph per week. Tackling such a lengthy project is demanding, but if you can plan out some (or all) of your shots before the project starts, you’ll be a lot more successful.

Note that you can always customize the project to keep things more interesting and/or cohesive:

  • You can have a monthly theme. This might be a month of portraits, a month of landscapes, a month of spring, and so on.
  • You can have a weekly theme. The first week can be shadows, followed by camera rotation, with digital blending after that, etc.

If you want to do regular photography but you’re not quite ready for a daily project, the 52-week project is a great one to pick.

digital blending creative idea
This photo used a technique called digital blending. Doing a 52-week project where you learn one technique a week can do wonders for your skills as a photographer.

2. The 365-day project

This is an intimidating project to take on, which is why many people go for the 52-week version listed above. However, like a relationship that requires a major time commitment, the reward for this project is often worth it.

Now, the original 365 project required daily self-portraits, which made it even tougher to complete. But a lot of people simply look to take one good photograph per day, be it a landscape, portrait, or macro shot. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are a few ideas:

  • The self-portrait 365 project. Take a selfie every day for a year.
  • What’s on your plate? Photograph your meal every day.
  • Life at sea. Show the different aspects of sea life. This is a diverse project that can include seascapes, macro photos, fishermen, and underwater photography (if you have the gear).
food photography idea
You eat every day. Why not turn your food into a 365-day project?

3. Follow one consistent theme

Want to really focus your mind (and hone a specific set of photography skills)? Choose a theme, and only take photos aligned with that theme.

This creative photography project can easily work as a 365-day or 52-week project. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Concentrate on a single technique. Take photos with a crystal ball, using an infrared camera, etc.
  • Have a topic for inspiration. Look at everyday objects and occurrences, then pick a topic that interests you. You might photograph only Chinese food, for example. Or you could do a clothes-related project – you could photograph only denim, or if you’re in Korea, you could photograph hanbok.
  • Photograph at the same time every day. Pick a time of the day and photograph only at this time. For instance, you might shoot every day at 6 PM, which will offer plenty of interesting light (plus, it will change throughout the year).
women dancing in the street
Photographing with a theme, such as a country’s traditional clothes, can be a great project. In this photo, all the women are wearing Korean hanbok.

4. Limit yourself to 24 photos

Photographers who photograph film know all about restraint – they will attest to the importance of really considering every photograph. So why not put yourself in their shoes and limit yourself to a certain number of shots per outing, day, or week?

The specific limit is a personal choice, but make sure the number isn’t too large (you want the project to involve some actual work, after all!). Personally, I like the idea of 24 shots – this hearkens back to the days of film – though you can also do 36, 20, or even 10.

To really emulate the feeling of shooting film, try only capturing 24 photographs for one week (no deleting)! With this project, every time you hit the shutter, you need to know you’re photographing from the best possible angle and with the best composition. Learning to successfully shoot with restraint will improve your work in leaps and bounds.

5. Use the title of a song or album

Delving into other mediums can be a great way to come up with a cool creative photography project. A lot of people take a photo, then make a title to go with it – but a better approach for creativity is to know the title of your photograph before you hit the shutter button.

In other words: You determine your photography concept in advance based on your shot title. Then you problem-solve to get the result you need.

You can get your titles anywhere, but I recommend looking to your favorite music album or song. Here are a few additional ideas:

  • The project could use an artist’s album titles
  • You could choose song titles, then turn them into photo titles
  • You can use the lyrics in a song to inspire photos
man sitting on the subway with a phone
“The Passenger” is a famous song by Iggy Pop. Song titles can be great inspiration for photographs!

6. Use only one (prime) lens

Most photographers own quite a few lenses, not to mention zooms with huge focal length ranges. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you may find yourself becoming lazy over time – using your zoom lenses, staying in the exact same place, not making a significant effort to really work a scene.

That’s where this photography project idea comes in handy. Simply shoot with a single lens for a day, a week, or a month, and you’ll quickly appreciate the value of careful composition, zooming with your feet, and more.

A really good lens to get started with is the nifty 50 (i.e., a 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4). The fixed focal length will force you to consider composition more carefully, and you’ll get a perspective similar to the human eye.

Of course, you have plenty of options, and any lens you could choose will have its merits. If you want to get really creative, try using a fisheye, tilt-shift, or macro lens.

three Canon lenses
You get to choose one lens. Which will it be?

7. Only use a smartphone

Who says your creative photography project should be high-tech? There’s a lot to be said for stripping your photography gear down to the basics, and your smartphone is perfect for this.

There are plenty of camera apps that can give your smartphone DSLR-like functionality (and you can buy clip-on lenses if you’re looking for added flexibility).

That said, the purest smartphone project will only use your phone’s basic camera app. So don’t be afraid to pack away your fancy cameras and use your smartphone’s native camera app for a week. Focus on what you can do with composition, light, and a perfectly timed moment of capture.

creative photography project ideas photographing with a smartphone
The best camera is the one you have with you, especially when the sky does this! An iPhone 4 was used to take this photo.

8. Find a story

No matter where you live, you can find a story to tell, though it will likely differ depending on whether you’re in a city, the country, a hot climate, or a cold one. Is your local area famous for any type of food? Are there any famous landmarks such as castles or temples nearby? How about an annual festival?

Once you’ve settled on your story, approach it in the way you’d photograph on assignment for a magazine. Try to tell the entire story. Use a variety of techniques and shoot a variety of subjects.

At the end of the project, you should spend some time picking a final set of photos – not necessarily the best individual shots, but the images that best tell a story. If you get a good result, you might even consider pitching it to a magazine!

magazine spread with woman on a rock in a stream
It’s good to practice photographing for a magazine. That way, when National Geographic comes knocking, you’ll be ready!

9. Learn a totally new technique

Once you know how to use your camera, it’s easy to get complacent – to shoot with the exact same techniques, the same settings, the same rhythm. So why not try focusing your project on a new technique?

Learning a new technique can be both exciting and intimidating. It may also require a significant time commitment. There are not many creative photography projects more energizing than learning something brand new, though. Here are some fun techniques to consider:

  • Digital blending. This technique will improve both your landscape photography and your Photoshop skills. There are aspects of blending that are tough to master, but it will absolutely be worth it.
  • Crystal balls. Using a glass ball as a type of external lens is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to create some unusual photos.
  • Light painting. This is a hot topic in photography. Will you learn to take zoom bursts? How about making light orbs? Will you use a Pixelstick?
  • Drone photography. This is another photographic genre that’s becoming increasingly popular. Invest in a drone, shoot with it regularly, and you’ll be on the cutting edge of photography.
  • Hyperlapse. Take a series of photos and turn them into a video. Some of the most creative photography projects out there use this technique!
  • Off-camera flash. Many photographers struggle to master flash; take the time to learn it, and you’ll go a long way.
photography flash strobe
Learning to use off-camera flash will give your creativity a huge boost.

10. Have a potluck photography party

Everyone’s been to a potluck party – they’re the ones where everyone brings along their own food. And the collaborative nature of potluck parties makes them perfect for getting together with other photographers as part of a creative photography project.

How do you organize a potluck photography party? Each person should bring along the following:

  • A camera body and one camera lens
  • One prop or piece of camera equipment

While everyone will use their own camera to take photos, the idea is that the prop or piece of equipment can be shared – so you might end up with one tripod, or one umbrella, for the entire group. And at every event, the available equipment will be different, offering different image opportunities.

You can come up with a theme for the potluck that everyone must follow, or you can have a theme for your own shots. This one’s a very open-ended project idea, so have fun with it!

photographer on the beach with light all around
Photography collaborations are a great way to improve your photos. They give you a chance to bounce ideas off others, which is always helpful.

11. Follow an A-Z photography list

This type of project can be extremely fun. All you do is photograph the alphabet!

You might start by writing out a list of topics you want to photograph (one for each letter). Or you can take a more spontaneous approach and photograph each letter as you encounter it.

This is a fun game that can be used for group photowalks, or you can play it on your own – when traveling, or simply when out with your camera.

people swimming in rooftop pool
“K” is for “Kuala Lumpur.” Are you a frequent traveler? Consider making your project about photographing places with an A-Z list!

12. A day in the life

A day in the life is a good, short project to work on – because it only lasts one day! Simply find someone whose life you want to photograph and ask them if you can tag along for a day.

Of course, you don’t have to stop there. You can always do a series covering different people. And the project doesn’t have to be about people; life is everywhere, so you could follow your pet or even photograph a natural area.

That said, the best projects do tend to be about people and their lives (a day in the life that looks at different people’s professions is a great choice).

maid putting sheets on a bed
Following a person for a day and photographing their life can be a rewarding experience.
Apsara dancer creative photography project idea
This woman was a chambermaid by day and an Apsara dancer by night.

Get started with your creative photography project!

Well, there you have it:

12 photography project ideas to get you motivated! Hopefully, you found at least one or two of these ideas compelling – so pick your favorite, make a plan, and then dive in!

Now over to you:

Have you tried a photography project before? Do you have any favorite projects you’d like to share? Also, which project from this list do you plan to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 12 Creative Photography Project Ideas to Get You Motivated appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

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Creative Phone Photography: 8 Tips for Artistic Mobile Photos

02 Jul

The post Creative Phone Photography: 8 Tips for Artistic Mobile Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

creative phone photography: 8 tips for artistic images

A phone with a camera is great for photography. But it can be tough to break away from a “snapshot” mindset and start taking images that are truly creative.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips to help you capture creative phone photography. Specifically, I’ll share:

  • Key settings to make the most of your phone’s camera
  • Several tips to get you creating unique, artistic compositions
  • A simple secret for surreal-looking phone photos
  • Much more!

So if you’re ready to shoot some creative images, then let’s get started.

1. Shoot in RAW

Familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of your phone camera is an important way to expand your creative options. Modern camera phones have a surprising range of capabilities that you can use for better photos.

For example, it’s a good idea to shoot in a RAW file format (an option now offered by many native camera apps). While JPEGs are the default format on many phones, they experience a loss in image quality thanks to compression – whereas RAW files are uncompressed and therefore tend to look better.

RAW files also offer greater post-processing versatility. You can adjust colors and tones and recover lost details in a natural, realistic way.

So if you’re after high-quality photos – which allow for extensive enhancement during post-production – then try switching to RAW. (Even if your mobile phone doesn’t offer RAW in its native camera app, you should still be able to find a third-party app that produces high-quality RAW files.)

setting up RAW format on a phone
RAW activated in Pro mode on an Android device.

2. Make the most of Manual mode

As with a conventional camera, Manual mode allows you to take control of your phone’s camera’s settings when capturing a photo. In Manual mode, you can adjust shutter speed, ISO, and white balance – and this additional control allows for greater creative input.

Creative phone photography bokeh

To activate Manual mode (also known as Pro mode) on some devices, open your Camera app and look at the camera mode tray. You should see settings like Timelapse and Panorama, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also have a Pro option.

Simply tap the Pro mode icon, and you’ll be good to go; you’ll gain access to numerous options for adjusting your phone camera’s functionality.

If your phone doesn’t offer a Pro mode, don’t worry. Simply download a third-party app such as ProCamera, Camera+ 2, or Obscura 2. All of these apps feature a Manual mode of sorts, and you can use it to harness your phone camera’s creative potential.

3. Don’t forget about composition!

Over time, plenty of guidelines have been developed to help photographers compose effective images. While none of these guides are inflexible laws, if you’re familiar with some basic compositional concepts, your photos will come a long way.

Of course, compositional knowledge translates to creative phone photography, too! For example, by activating your phone camera’s grid function, you’ll get a useful visual overlay, perfect for positioning key points of interest.

rocks on a beach

Learn about the rule of thirds, leading lines, the rule of space, triangular composition, and more; each of these will be helpful tools that’ll aid in your creative phone photography.

4. Make use of editing apps

I’ve already mentioned how third-party camera apps can give you increased control over your phone camera. But did you know that editing apps offer a whole other world of creativity?

For instance, Snapseed (Android and iOS) is a (free!) Google-owned application with plenty of tools for tweaking images and applying filters. VSCO (Android and iOS) offers some editing functions for free, including artistic, film-like filters. Adobe Lightroom (Android and iOS) supplies image editing tools similar to its desktop counterpart for free, and it can also be upgraded to a paid premium version for additional functionality.

(Unlike VSCO and Snapseed, only the paid version of Lightroom will edit RAW files.)

editing apps for creative phone photography

There are plenty of fun, creative apps available for both iOS and Android devices. Need a retro aesthetic? Afterlight (above, left) provides users with an advanced toolkit to add light leak effects to an image. Want to combine two images into a single photograph? Snapseed (above, right) allows you to quickly and easily merge image layers to create a double-exposure effect.

There are a multitude of apps that suit a huge variety of purposes and capabilities. The fun part is trying them all out!

5. Try different perspectives

One of the great things about creative phone photography is the mobility of a small photographic device. A camera phone isn’t just an accessory; it’s a pocket-sized machine capable of capturing stunning photos.

So take advantage of the size and portability of a phone camera by physically experimenting to create intriguing perspectives. Place your phone close to the ground, try a high angle, or shoot from off to the side. Just make sure to get a non-conventional perspective, and you’re bound to end up with interesting results.

cake from above

6. Go abstract

Also known as experimental, non-objective, or conceptual photography, abstract photography avoids depicting immediately identifiable subject matter.

In fact, creative phone photography and abstraction are a good mix. The accessibility of the phone camera allows you to snap abstract images anywhere, anytime. For instance, when you’re out in a city, you might capture abstract images of puddles on the ground, posters torn off a wall, or reflections in a glass building.

And thanks to readily available editing apps, unique abstract perspectives can be rapidly captured, edited, and shared – or even saved as inspiration for a later shoot with a dedicated camera.

abstract creative phone photo

7. Photograph details

If you have your phone in your pocket all the time – and let’s face it, most of us do! – you’ll be ready to capture even the smallest occurrences at a moment’s notice.

Even when it’s tough to find inspiration, focusing on the details that shape an everyday environment can make for beautiful photos. Try activating your phone’s close-up or macro function, then get close to a subject. You can even purchase little lenses that attach to your phone for close-up photography. A small tripod or a sturdy surface can help keep the camera phone steady.

black and white creative images

8. Experiment!

It may sound obvious, but doing great phone photography can take a little experimentation. Many people assume (due to the advanced and accessible nature of phone camera technology) that every shot will be successful.

But in reality, practice and experimentation are the keys to effective creative phone camera photography. Familiarize yourself with your phone camera’s capabilities and make time to shoot. The more you experiment, the better your images will turn out.

experimental phone photo of a blurry road

Creative phone photography tips: conclusion

Phone photography is a great way to create stunning photos, especially if you want to be artistic without investing in a heavy camera.

Plus, with such a huge variety of apps available, doing creative phone photography has become a much more streamlined process.

There is an old saying: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” And while this might not always be the case, if you take advantage of your phone camera, you can create some truly outstanding images!

Now over to you:

Have you done a lot of phone photography? How do you like it? Which of these tips do you plan to use first? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post Creative Phone Photography: 8 Tips for Artistic Mobile Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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15 Photo Essay Ideas (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing)

27 May

The post 15 Photo Essay Ideas (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

photo essay ideas

Visual storytelling is a normal part of our everyday lives, but coming up with good photo essay ideas can be challenging. So in this article, I want to share some topics you can use to create interesting, compelling photo essays.

A single, strong photograph can convey a lot of information about its subject – but sometimes we have topics that require more than one image to do the job. That’s when it’s time to make a photo essay: a collection of pictures that together tell the bigger story of a chosen theme.

Here’s a brief list of ideas to get you started!

Karen woman portrait
Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/8 | 1/125s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan.

1. A day in the life

Your first photo essay idea is simple: Track a life over the course of one day. You might make an essay about someone else’s life. Or the life of a location, such as the sidewalk outside your house. 

The subject matter you choose is up to you. But start in the morning and create a series of images showing your subject over the course of a typical day.

(Alternatively, you can document your subject on a special day, like a birthday, a wedding, or some other celebration.)

woman with a backpack getting on a train photo essay ideas
Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/6.3 | 1/100s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Capture hands

Portraits focus on a subject’s face – but why not mix it up and make a photo essay that focuses on your subject’s hands?

(You can also focus on a collection of different people’s hands.)

Hands can tell you a lot about a person. And showing them in context is a great way to narrate a story.

people on a train
Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/5 | 1/80s | ISO 1600
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. A child and their parent

Photographs that catch the interaction between parents and children are special. A parent-child connection is strong and unique, so making powerful images isn’t challenging. You just need to be ready to capture the special moments as they happen. 

You might concentrate on a parent teaching their child. Or the pair playing sports. Or working on a special project.

Use your imagination, and you’ll have a great time with this theme.

4. Tell a local artist’s story 

I’ve always enjoyed photographing artists as they work; studios have a creative vibe, so the energy is already there. Bring your camera into this environment and try to tell the artist’s story!

An artist’s studio offers plenty of opportunities for wonderful photo essays. Think about the most fascinating aspects of the artist’s process. What do they do that makes their art special? Aim to show this in your photos.

Many people appreciate fine art, but they’re often not aware of what happens behind the scenes. So documenting an artist can produce fascinating visual stories.

artist at work with copper
Nikon D700 | 24mm | f/7.1 | 1/13s | ISO 1250
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Show a tradesperson’s process

Do you have a plumber coming over to fix your kitchen sink? Is a builder making you a new deck?

Take photos while they work! Tell them what you want to do before you start, and don’t forget to share your photos with them.

They’ll probably appreciate seeing what they do from another perspective. They may even want to use your photos on their company website.

hot iron in crucible
Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/4.5 | 1/250s | ISO 1600
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

6. Cover a local community event

A school fundraiser, a tree-planting day at a park, or a parade; these are are all community events that make for good photo essay ideas.

Think like a photojournalist. What type of images would your editor want? Make sure to capture some wide-angle compositions, some medium shots, and some close-ups.

(Getting in close to show the details can often tell as much of a story as the wider pictures.)

7. Fresh market life

Markets are great for photography because there’s always plenty of activity and lots of characters. Think of how you can best illustrate the flow of life at the market. What are the vendors doing that’s most interesting? What are the habits of the shoppers?

Look to capture the essence of the place. Try to portray the people who work and shop there.

woman at the fresh market
Nikon D800 | 50mm | f/11 | 0.4s | ISO 100
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

8. Shoot the same location over time

What location do you visit regularly? Is there a way you can make an interesting photo essay about it?

Consider what you find most attractive and ugly about the place. Look for aspects that change over time. 

Any outdoor location will look different throughout the day. Also think about the changes that occur from season to season. Create an essay that tells the story of the place.

9. Photograph a garden through the seasons

It might be your own garden. It could be the neighbor’s. It could even be the garden at your local park.

Think about how the plants change during the course of a year. Capture photos of the most significant visual differences, then present them as a photo essay.

lotus flower
Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/11 | 1/125s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

10. Pick a local cause to highlight

Photo essays can go beyond passive documentation; they can become a part of your activism, too!

So find a cause that matters to you. Tell the story of some aspect of community life that needs improvement. Is there an ongoing issue with litter in your area? How about traffic; is there a problematic intersection?

Document these issues, then make sure to show the photos to people responsible for taking action.

11. Making a meal

Photo essay ideas can be about simple, everyday things – like making a meal or a coffee.

How can you creatively illustrate something that seems so mundane? My guess is that, when you put your mind to it, you can come up with many unique perspectives, all of which will make great stories.

plate of Thai curry photo essay ideas
Nikon D800 | 55mm | f/5 | 1/125s | ISO 160
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

12. Religious traditions

Religion is often rich with visual expression in one form or another. So capture it!

Of course, you may need to narrow down your ideas and choose a specific aspect of worship to photograph. Aim to show what people do when they visit a holy place, or how they pray on their own. Illustrate what makes their faith real and what’s special about it.

photo essay idea monks walking
Nikon D800 | 35mm | f/4 | 1/200s | ISO 800
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

13. Historic sites

Historic sites are often iconic, and plenty of photographers take a snapshot or two.

But with a photo essay, you can illustrate the site’s history in greater depth.

Look for details of the location that many visitors miss. And use these to build an interesting story.

14. Cover a sports game

Most sports photographers aim for a stunning photo of the decisive moment – when the action is at its peak. But nailing shots like that can be very challenging.

So why not focus on something else? After all, sports involve so much more than a single moment. There’s training, preparation, and stretching. There’s the emotion following a victory or a tough loss.

These other subjects, when photographed carefully, can make for an interesting photo essay, too.

15. Photograph your pet

If you’re a pet owner, you already have the perfect subject for a photo essay!

All pets, with the possible exception of pet rocks, will provide you with a collection of interesting moments to photograph.

So collect these moments with your camera – then display them as a photo essay showing the nature and character of your pet.

Woman and elephant
Nikon D800 | 105mm | f/5.6 | 1/400s | ISO 400
© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photo essay ideas: final words

Look at the world around you. Consider what you see every day. What aspects interest you the most? Photograph those things.

You’re bound to end up with some beautiful photo essays!

Now over to you:

Do you have any photo essays you’re proud of? Do you have any more photo essay ideas? Share your thoughts and images in the comments below!

The post 15 Photo Essay Ideas (to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

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13 Creative Food Photography Ideas (For Unique Results!)

04 Mar

The post 13 Creative Food Photography Ideas (For Unique Results!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

13 creative food photography ideas

If you’re looking for creative food photography ideas, then you’ve come to the right place.

Because in this article, I’m going to give you 13 fun ideas to take your food photography to the next level.

So if you’re ready to move beyond basic food photos, and if you want to start creating compelling artistic images with your food…

…then let’s dive right in!

creative food photography ideas food as a map of the world
Food photos can have a message and a concept.

1. Try different points of view

Here’s a simple yet effective food photography idea:

Change your perspective.

You see, most people view their food from a sitting position. And that’s how many casual food photographers approach their food.

But if you adjust your angle, you’ll capture food in a very different way.

Here are some perspectives you could try:

  • Bird’s-eye view: Aim your camera directly down at the food from above.
  • Plate level: Get down on the same level as your plate and photograph across it.
  • Wider scene: It’s tempting to focus only on the food. Instead, use a wider lens to show the scene around the food (plus the food itself, of course!).
shooting a plate from above
The bird’s-eye view angle is an effective one! Here, some food styling adds to the overall look.

2. Experiment with the white balance

Food is often photographed with an off-camera flash, which opens up a lot of creative possibilities.

One trick:

Put a gel on your flash (such as a blue gel or an orange gel). Then adjust the white balance of your camera to compensate for this color shift. Finally, fire your flash at the subject (while aiming to keep the background untouched by artificial light).

If you’ve done your work carefully, you’ll end up with a colorful background (a color opposite that of the flash gel), but neutral food!

3. Use a food artist

Getting someone to professionally style your food before shooting will give your photos a more creative feel.

As a photographer, you’ll be leaning on the creativity of your stylist here; your job will be to compose and light your image in a professional way.

close-ups are an artistic creative food photography idea
Detail photos can create an unusual narrative. This is a close-up of a Korean kimbap slice.

4. Try out some light painting

Food photography is, in essence, a form of still life (though one that needs to be carried out while the food still looks fresh!).

As with most still life photography, you can use light painting to give your images a more dynamic look.

Here’s how it works:

First, set up your food and determine your composition.

Set your exposure, making sure the shutter speed lasts 10 seconds or more.

Then fire off a shot and use some form of light to “paint” your food.

(Anything that emits light could be used, from a smartphone to a programmable LED light stick.)

If all goes well, you’ll end up with a very pro-looking image!

light painted pastry
Light painting with food photography is fun! I used a smartphone to create an artistic background.

5. Think about the background

If your photograph includes a background, you’ll need to use it in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Because the background matters – almost as much as the foreground, in fact!

Fortunately, there are a few easy strategies you can use to create a stunning backdrop:

  • Bokeh: Use a large aperture, focus on your main subject, and blur the background. Add some lights in the background for beautiful bokeh light balls.
  • Plain: Stick colorful paper or a painting behind your subject for a more standard, plain look.
  • Show a scene: Include the wider scene to give your food some context. (This could even include the restaurant where the food has been served!)
bowls with background bokeh
A large aperture blurs the background into beautiful bokeh.

6. Reflect your food

Here’s a creative food photography idea that makes for very modern, sleek images:

Reflect your food in glass for a double image.

Simply set up your food on a glass panel. Then lower your camera angle until you get a nice reflection in the glass.

You’ll want to make sure your food is well-lit – but be sure to avoid obvious balls of light bouncing off the surface of your glass.

cake reflection with bokeh in background
Here, a cake is reflected on a sheet of glass.

7. Tell the story

Cooking and preparing food is a process.

So every dish goes through a journey before it gets plated and put on a table.

Try to document that journey! Look to take photos of food at various points along the way to the table, so you can create a complete picture of the food.

Here are a few times when you might want to photograph food:

  • When it’s growing. Food needs to be produced, and photographing it during this phase can help you tell a story, especially if you’re creating a series of images.
  • When it’s sold. A visit to the market is a fantastic opportunity for food photography because vendors often display their food in an interesting way.
  • When it’s cooked. If possible, photograph the chef as they prepare the food. Pro tip: If you can capture the chef adding the finishing touches to a dish, you’ll get an especially satisfying shot.
  • On the table. The majority of food photos are of the plated meal. There’s nothing wrong with photographing food at this point; just aim to use some of these ideas to capture more creatively plated food photos.
a chef framed by rice paper
A chef creates a fresh spring roll with rice paper (and he’s framed by rice paper, too!).

8. Create some detail photos

Get out that macro lens, and get in close to your food!

First, this will offer some interesting, never-before-seen perspectives.

Plus, focusing on the detail or shape of food just makes for some very cool photography!

Try focusing on a single item of food. Then switch it up, and capture lots of the same food repeating throughout your photo.

food framed with key objects is one example of a creative food photography idea
An off-camera flash captures the steam coming off the noodles.

9. Frame your food

Food photographers rarely frame food with important contextual elements.

But if you can find ways to create an interesting frame, you’ll end up with a much stronger composition.

For instance, you might try surrounding the main food item with items that relate to it, as I did in the photo below:

strawberries framing the food in the center
Here, the strawberries frame the main subject and add narrative to the photo.

Or you can use plates or cutlery to frame the food.

Really, the sky is the limit!

10. Try lensball food photography

Lensball photography is a fun technique that uses a crystal ball to create unique photos. Like this:

sushi in a lensball
A lensball can provide a different perspective for food photos.

And they’re easy to use, too!

Just place your lensball close to the food…

…and you’ll get a very cool result.

11. Shoot food floating in midair

If you want to get a bit wild with your food photography, then try some midair shots!

For instance, you might show a banana floating off the ground, or a carrot suspended against a dark backdrop.

And if you want to take this a step further, you can try cutting up the food – so you get a set of suspended food slices smack-dab in the middle of your photo.

Of course, you’ll need to build some type of stand for your food (or use a technique like this one here), and you’ll need Photoshop to complete the effect.

But if you’re willing to put in the work, the results will be worth it!

12. Create a splash!

You can use water (or other liquids) to give your food a fresh feel – especially if you’re willing to get the food wet.

Now, there are a couple of different approaches to this. Both use flash to get that moment of capture.

  • Splash: Drop liquid-like milk, water, or juice onto food to create a splash.
  • Food into water: Drop food into a tank of water. Then photograph the food as it creates bubbles and splashes. Of course, this works best with fruit and vegetables; cake will likely be a bit messy!

13. Freeze your food

Here’s your final creative food photography idea:

Put your food in a tub of water, then stick it in the freezer.

Check back in a bit, and you’ll have a block of ice – with the food encased inside it!

Take out the block and photograph through the ice. You’ll end up with some unique images, like this one:

frozen fish in ice
I froze these fish in a block of ice.

While you can try this technique on many different types of food, I like to use it for fish photography. It can even look like the fish are swimming in the water!

Creative food photography ideas: final words

Now that you’ve finished this article, you know plenty of creative food photography ideas.

And you’re well on your way to capturing some unique photos.

So take your camera, find some food, and have fun!

Now over to you:

What food do you plan to photograph? Which of these creative ideas do you plan to use first? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below.

The post 13 Creative Food Photography Ideas (For Unique Results!) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

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How to Take Creative Landscape Shots Using Intentional Camera Movement

21 Feb

The post How to Take Creative Landscape Shots Using Intentional Camera Movement appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Richard Beech.

how to take creative landscape shots using intentional camera movement

If you’re looking to capture some unique, creative photos, then I highly recommend trying out intentional camera movement photography.

Now, many photographic situations rely on ensuring your camera is still as possible during exposure for pin-sharp images. But is keeping your camera still always a good thing?

Instead, why not throw caution to the wind, move your camera while the shutter is open, and explore the range of creative opportunities this offers you as a photographer?

In this article, I’ll show you how to do exactly that!

What is intentional camera movement and why should you use it?

Intentional camera movement (or ICM for short) is a photographic technique where you move the camera as the image is taken.

bluebell woods intentional camera movement

One example of ICM is panning. The camera follows a moving subject in order to keep the subject sharp and the background blurred.

But while panning can get some great results, it’s actually a pretty tame form of ICM. Moving your camera during the exposure can open up many more creative options for you to try out.

In particular, intentional camera movement can be used to take some truly unique landscape shots. The technique can be exceptionally liberating, and by reducing the number of sharp details in a landscape, it allows you to concentrate on line, form, and color in your images.

In fact, with ICM, a scene that you may ordinarily consider too cluttered might just come to life – by letting you blend colors and shapes for an interesting abstract shot.

intentional camera movement on a beach

One of the reasons I have grown to love ICM is that it enables you to capture a landscape in a unique and personal way that cannot easily be reproduced. It can even breathe new life into overly familiar scenes, letting you see and capture something unique about a location you may have photographed many times before.

If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your next photographic project, or you want to get your creative juices flowing, intentional camera movement is a technique that you should try at least once.

In fact, it’s relatively easy to take some striking shots with ICM.

Plus, it can be a lot of fun!

So let’s take a look at how intentional camera movement photography actually works:

The best settings for intentional camera movement photography

A key factor to get right when using ICM is your shutter speed.

You see, the exposure needs to be long enough to capture significant motion blur (though different shutter speeds will give different effects).

In general, I recommend anything from 1/3s or 1/2s all the way down to multi-second exposures. Of course, you’re always free to experiment with faster or slower shutter speeds; the core of a creative technique like ICM is simply playing around.

Because of these lengthy shutter speeds, shooting in low-light conditions is ideal for ICM. During the daytime, it can be harder to achieve the required shutter speeds, even at your camera’s lowest ISO setting and your lens’s smallest aperture (i.e., highest f-stop number).

If you do decide to shoot in the day, you may need to use a polarizing filter, a neutral density (ND) filter, or a combination of both. Personally, I prefer to use a polarizing filter as a starting point, as this helps to boost colors and cut down on reflections and glare. I will then add a 2-stop or a 4-stop ND filter if the shutter speed needs to be slowed down any further.

When starting out with ICM, it can help to shoot in Shutter Priority mode. Set the shutter speed to around half a second to start, then turn the ISO to the lowest available setting on your camera.

intentional camera movement abstract

Once you have practiced at this shutter speed, you can use longer exposure times thanks to a combination of low light and filters.

Make sure you focus manually in advance, and turn off the autofocus to prevent the camera from searching for focus during the long exposure.

Also, if you are using a lens that has image stabilization, remember to turn this off.

How to move your camera

Once you have taken control of the shutter speed, the next step is to determine how you’ll move the camera after pressing the shutter button.

Get creative; there are no rules! You can move the camera vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. You can move it fast or slow. Alternatively, you can rotate the camera 360 degrees to create a spiral effect, or change the focal length on a zoom lens during exposure to create a zoom effect.

tree at sunset ICM

With practice, you can combine two or more of these movements to create something truly unique. The look and feel of your final images will be determined by the speed, direction, and smoothness of your chosen movements.

Note that you can always use a tripod to control the camera movement. This will help you to capture a smoother result, which can be useful if you wish to retain a straight horizon line.

(Personally, I prefer to work handheld when moving the camera, as it offers greater flexibility and provides more opportunities to experiment with different movements.)

Bold movements can sometimes be more effective, as there is a risk that subtle movements may end up looking like camera shake in the final image.

So bear in mind:

While waving your camera around may not come naturally and may result in you getting some funny looks from amused onlookers, the end results will definitely be worth it!

What to shoot for the best results

Now that you know how to capture beautiful ICM photos, all that’s left is to pick your ICM subjects.

A good place to begin is by looking for locations that offer striking colors, lines, or patterns.

Forests are a favorite ICM subject of mine, particularly during the spring and autumn seasons. Clean, parallel lines provided by the trees, as well as the vibrant colors of nature (created by flowers in the spring and fallen leaves in autumn), lend themselves to a vertical camera movement shot. The movement can be from the top down or from the bottom up, and it can be fast or slow; it really just depends on the effect you wish to capture and how experimental you want to be.

intentional camera movement in bluebell woods

Seascapes can be a good starting point for side-to-side camera movement, where you pan the camera in line with the horizon. Alternatively, in rougher waters, you can try to match the movement of your camera to the movement of the waves for an altogether different effect.

Shooting at sunrise or sunset can provide you with a greater variety of colors to work with, and shooting city lights after dark can also offer a wide range of creative options.

Once you’ve identified a suitable location, you will probably find yourself taking multiple shots with various different movements.

(I should warn you that intentional camera movement photography can sometimes be quite addictive, and you’ll often find your memory cards filling up quickly!)

You may find it useful to set your camera to shoot in burst mode so that you can take a series of shots in quick succession while moving the camera in a particular direction.

That way, you’ll end up with a lot of images to choose from – plus, every new shot will offer you a slightly different composition and effect!

A few intentional camera movement tips

As with any type of photography, images created using intentional camera movement are not going to be to everybody’s taste.

It’s a highly subjective art form, and what works for you will not work for others.

Also, keep in mind basic principles of photography, such as composition and exposure – these are still very important!

Also, while the ICM technique will give you a very abstract result, you may find it helpful to have at least one element of the scene sharp or recognizable in the final image.

river weeds ICM

Finally, there is an element of trial and error when starting out with intentional camera movement. You’ll quickly find out what works for you and what doesn’t; this will help you develop your own style.

And don’t be too concerned if you do not get an effect you like right away – the technique can be quite hit-and-miss sometimes. Take a lot of shots, and don’t be too quick to delete images that you feel haven’t worked. There is a chance that, after a few days, you may take another look and see something that you like, after all!

Intentional camera movement photography: The next step

One of the great things about intentional camera movement photography is that it is all about how you express yourself!

Think of your camera as your paintbrush.

Get creative, have fun, and start seeing landscapes in an exciting new way.

Now over to you:

Do you have any intentional camera movement photos you’d like to share? Please feel free to display them in the comments below!

The post How to Take Creative Landscape Shots Using Intentional Camera Movement appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Richard Beech.

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11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks as a Photographer

27 Nov

The post 11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks as a Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Creative blocks can happen to everyone, including us photographers.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to combat that dreaded phenomenon.

So here are 11 ways to overcome creative blocks as a photographer!

ways to overcome creative blocks as a photographer
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM | 1/4000s | f/4.5 | ISO 200

What is a creative block?

The term creative block describes a condition that ranges from having difficulty coming up with new ideas to being completely unable to produce useable creative work.

Some common triggers for creative blocks include timing, stress, boredom, fatigue, fear, and anxiety.

However, there are many simple methods that can help tackle this beast head-on.

1. Get some rest

The creative process (and daily life in general) can take both a mental and physical toll, and one of the key factors that can trigger a creative block is fatigue.

Making time to recuperate is not only good for the creative process, but for mental health overall.

2. Write

The written word is a powerful tool, and one of the many ways to overcome creative blocks. Actively maintaining a notebook full of creative ideas can come in handy in the event of a creative lull. Keeping a journal, blogging consistently, or even doing creative writing can help remove a creative barrier.

Brainstorming is another written exercise that prompts creative thinking. Select an aspect of photography and write down as many associated ideas and phrases as possible within a short amount of time. Often the results can deliver unique new creative perspectives.

3. Listen to music

It’s been scientifically proven that music can help calm activity in the brain, reducing anxiety and restoring emotional balance.

So whether it’s listening while at work, rest, or play, music can aid in restoring creative flow.

ways to overcome creative blocks music
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with extension tubes | 1/40s | f/4.5 | ISO 320

4. Sketch your surroundings

Grab a drawing medium and a sheet of paper (or a tablet, touchscreen computer, etc.) and quickly sketch as much of the surrounding detail as possible for five minutes.

Furniture, cameras, people, shadows, animals, trees, plants, textures…draw anything that makes up the immediate area.

While it may seem simple, making rough sketches encourages mindfulness, utilizes creativity without the pressure of perfection, and reveals the creative possibilities of your surroundings.

5. Have a change of scenery

Even a simple walk in the park has been proven to combat creative block.

After all, new places inspire new thought patterns. A change of scenery is a simple way to get into a more creative mindset.

6. Gear up

One of the ways to overcome creative blocks is to seek out new equipment.

Trying out new gear sounds expensive, but economical accessories like extension tubes, prisms, and filters can have a significant creative influence on photographic practice.

Even old cameras and lenses sourced from thrift stores can present new challenges and opportunities to engage with photography and therefore reinvigorate creativity.

ways to overcome creative blocks as a photographer macro flower
Extension tubes are an economical way to get into macro photography. Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with extension tubes | 1/125s | f/4.0 | ISO 100

7. Be distracted

Embracing distraction seems a little counterproductive, but putting an uncooperative artistic undertaking to one side for a while can be one of the best ways to combat a creative block.

Taking a break to reset and relax is conducive to a more fluid state of mind. Going for a walk, having a shower, and doing some tidying are all good ways to overcome creative blocks.

8. Seek inspiration

Creative minds feed on inspiration. Reading photography books and magazines, listening to podcasts, and researching artists can all chip away at a stubborn creative block.

Plus, due to the current shutdown, many galleries are creating virtual tours of art spaces online – which is a great opportunity to explore art establishments without leaving the comfort of your own home.

9. Photograph something new

It can be easy to get stuck photographing the same thing all the time. And while there is nothing wrong with specializing, adopting a new subject or technique can help get rid of a creative rut.

Photographing something entirely new not only serves as a refresher but can also build on the skills and habits you’ve previously established. For example, a portrait photographer experimenting with landscape photography can uncover new ways to combine the two in environmental portraiture.

While it can be difficult to take on a new project during a creative rut, doing photography outside your comfort zone can lead to significant artistic breakthroughs. By embracing a new format, photographers can expand their creativity and shift a stubborn creative block.

10. Photograph your favorites

ways to overcome creative blocks as a photographer
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | 1/50s | f/10 | ISO 400

It may seem like this point contradicts item nine above. Nevertheless, we often forget to photograph the very subjects that made us love photography in the first place.

A lull is a great opportunity to return to photographing a neglected favorite subject, rekindling that passion for creative image-making.

11. Make a visual diary

In a creative lull, a good source of accessible inspirational material is invaluable. Visual diaries are collections of visual materials compiled in a comprehensive journal. Consisting of images, notes, samples, scribbles, diagrams, photographs, etc., visual diaries are a manifestation of a photographer’s creative thought processes.

One of the most popular visual diary formats is a simple spiral-bound art book (usually A4 or A5 in size). However, there are other ways that artists can maintain a visual record of artistic processes.

For instance, Pinterest, Instagram, and other online venues are great ways to keep track of inspirational artistic material. In the event of a creative lull, visual diaries are a great resource to look back on, and they can help plan your next creative step.

Ways to overcome creative blocks: Conclusion

While frustrating, creative blocks can represent a good opportunity to expand on creative practice.

From resting to listening to music to trying a new technique, there are many ways to overcome creative blocks – while building on personal creative processes at the same time.

Now over to you:

Do you have any tips for getting rid of creative blocks? Share them in the comments!

The post 11 Ways to Overcome Creative Blocks as a Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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11 Easy Creative Photography Techniques You Can Try on Any Camera

29 Oct

The post 11 Easy Creative Photography Techniques You Can Try on Any Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

A lot of photography techniques can be complex and require a steep learning curve.

But in today’s article, you’ll learn 11 easy creative photography techniques you can start using today! The techniques described below all require minimal extra equipment and don’t require additional post-processing.

Read on to get the most creativity from your camera with these easy-to-use techniques.

1. Reflection

easy creative photography techniques down low reflection
It’s worth getting down to a low angle for reflections.

This is an easy creative photography technique to learn and is popular among many photographers. The main requirement is finding a reflective surface, though this is not all there is to it. Consider the following, and you’ll be capturing amazing reflection photos in no time:

  • Reflective surface: Look for surfaces that reflect (and there are many). Flat water works well, as does glass, marble, or even a regular mirror.
  • Choose a main subject: A successful photo will match up a reflective surface with an interesting main subject. Consider going out after it’s rained, as a puddle in front of a famous monument may only be there after heavy rain.
  • Find the angle: To get a better reflection, choose the correct angle. This often means getting right up against the reflective surface so the angle of reflection is shallow.
  • Create your own: No reflective surface? No problem. Just create one! Use the surface of a smartphone, a small mirror, or perhaps a bucket that you use to spread water and create a puddle.
  • A filter: The best way to control your reflection is by using a circular polarizing filter.

2. Silhouettes

easy creative photography techniques silhouettes
Strong silhouettes work well against a horizon line.

The next option on this list of easy creative photography techniques is silhouettes.

Silhouettes occur when you photograph against the light. The key is to find an interesting shape, and then make sure the background is brighter than the object itself.

You’ll often need to get down to a low angle and then photograph up toward the sky; that way, you can ensure the silhouetted object stands out against the bright background.

Also, when photographing silhouettes, make sure you expose for the bright background. This will turn the subject into a dark silhouette.

3. Repetition

easy creative photography techniques lines and repetition pattern
Lines and repetition can make for a strong composition.

A great design element to add to your frame is repetition.

This is something you’ll usually need to look for, but it’s sometimes possible to create your own repetition. There are possibilities for this both in nature and in the man-made world. Repetition may take the form of a line of trees, or of many bricks in a wall. The question, then, is how you’ll use this repetition.

Here are a few ways you can work with repetition to improve your photos:

  • Create a texture photo: In this case, the high level of repetition forms a texture.
  • Break the pattern: Here everything else is the same, with one variation. This works well to highlight that variation, which will then be the photo’s main subject.
  • Use background repetition: Backgrounds with repetition work very well for portrait photos or still life images.
  • Two or three: You don’t need to have repetition to infinity; two or three repeating objects, such as wine glasses, can work well.

4. Refraction

easy creative photography techniques glasses
Wine glasses filled with water will produce refraction.

This is a form of photography that can be practiced with a camera as simple as a smartphone. You’re probably thinking of lensballs, but refraction photography can take many forms, including:

  • A lensball: This is a large glass ball that creates a refracted image of the background inside it.
  • A prism: A prism splits the light and can be used to produce a rainbow. You could either photograph the projected rainbow or photograph through the prism.
  • Water drops: Get out after it’s rained, and you can produce refraction in things such as water drops on a spider’s web.
  • A wine glass: Fill a wine glass with water, and you will see the refraction effect!

5. Contrast

easy creative photography techniques silhouettes
Contrast with silhouettes works really well.

Contrast is a great concept to use in your photography.

The most obvious way to use contrast is by emphasizing dark and light areas of your photo through things such as silhouettes and shadows. But this is not the only way contrast can be used in your photography; anything that has an opposite can be used. You might choose to contrast something old with something new, for example.

6. Framing

easy creative photography techniques cave entrance frame
Natural frames such as cave entrances are good frames.

The world is full of frames, from pictures on the wall to window frames. These frames can be used in photography, which is another easy creative photography technique.

You can achieve a great framed photo with any kind of camera. Good options for this include doorways and windows. You can even become more creative and make your own frame using objects that contextualize the scene behind it.

7. Panning

easy creative photography techniques panning
Bikes are the easiest moving object to try panning with.

Panning is a form of intentional camera movement. The technique involves following the motion of a moving object and using a slower shutter speed to blur the background behind it.

As long as your camera allows you to use a slow shutter speed, this is a technique you can try. Those using a smartphone should download an app that allows you to use a slower shutter speed to take a photo.

8. Point of view

easy creative photography techniques buildings from below
A worm’s-eye view can look amazing. This example also shows how lines and repetition can work in a photo.

Changing your angle can give you dramatically different results, and it doesn’t matter which type of camera you use for this technique.

It’s easy to photograph from a standing position, but try some of these alternative angles:

  • Low angle: With this angle, you’ll get low to the ground. Things look different from down there!
  • Worm’s-eye view: This angle involves looking straight up. It can be even more dramatic when you get right down to the ground.
  • Bird’s-eye view: The easiest way these days to take a bird’s-eye view image is with a drone. However, find a high vantage point from a tall building and you can achieve a similar result.

9. Lines

easy creative photography techniques lines
This photo shows several lines converging in the left third of the frame.

Using powerful lines in your photos will almost always give you a strong composition. The trick, of course, is to utilize those lines correctly using the focal length available to you.

Here are some of the lines that can be used in your photography:

  • Leading lines: A leading line leads the eye to the main subject of your photo. This line might take the form of a road or a river meandering through your frame.
  • Horizon lines: Many photographs have horizon lines in them, which is a strong line running through the middle of your frame. Look to position it at the top or bottom third of your photo (using the rule of thirds).
  • Converging lines: In some photos, many lines converge at one point: the infinity point. This can be compositionally very strong. Look for lines of trees or a tunnel for this type of photo.

10. Shadows

easy creative photography techniques shadows
The shadow in this photo shows an element of repetition, as well.

Photographing shadows requires a strong light source. This can be the sun, but an external flash is another option.

The best time of the day to photograph shadows is therefore when the sun is at a low angle: an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset.

Shadows can be formed and used in different ways. You might photograph a person’s shadow, shadows formed from trees, or the way shadows emphasize the shapes of hills.

11. Minimalism

boat minimalism
This minimalist photo uses a bird’s-eye view taken from a bridge.

Keeping your composition nice and clean is the key to a good photo. This means that one of the best easy creative photography techniques is minimalism.

You can create minimalism even in the most cluttered environment as long as you frame your photo correctly. This style of photography requires that you give your subject some room to breathe. Focus on the main subject and position it in front of an uncluttered background.

Try out these easy creative photography techniques, yourself!

There are so many ways to be creative with photography. Which techniques do you like to use? Are there any simple-to-apply techniques you’ve tried that didn’t make this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

And if you have any photos that illustrate these techniques, share them in the comments, too!

Then get photographing with these easy creative photography techniques!

The post 11 Easy Creative Photography Techniques You Can Try on Any Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

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HP launches eight new monitors for creative professionals at Adobe MAX 2020

22 Oct

During the Adobe MAX conference on Tuesday, HP introduced the newest products added to its HP Create Ecosystem, including the next-generation DreamColor and Z by HP monitors. According to the company, these models were made ‘with the creator in mind,’ offering everything from frameless designs to the promise of ‘seamless color accuracy,’ 4K resolutions and USB-C connectivity.

The HP create Ecosystem was first announced at Adobe MAX 2019, introducing a variety of products and partnerships aimed at supporting the creative community, including photographers and videographers. The new expansion of this ecosystem announced during Adobe’s 2020 conference adds a total of eight displays, all created for visual professionals.

Leading the lineup is HP’s Z25xs G3 and Z27xs G3 DreamColor displays; these models boast more than a billion on-screen colors, PANTONE Validated color gamut and the promise of color accuracy straight out of the box. HP says that these DreamColor models are the world’s first ‘color critical HDR monitors’ to feature a one-touch brightness adjustment feature, enabling users to rapidly increase display brightness.

Users are likewise promised up to HDR 600 and customized workflow color presets, USB-C connectivity and support for both macOS and Windows from the DreamColor monitors.

Those two models are joined by the six new Z Core displays, all of which HP describes as premium and offering creators ‘flawless color accuracy’ straight from the box. The Z Core models are notable for their incredibly thin profiles, nearly bezel-free displays — something HP calls a ‘frameless’ design — and support for all devices with its 100W USB-C power delivery.

HP notes a number of features that come with the Z Core displays, including the integrated HP Display Manager for remotely managing the monitors, as well as HP Eye Ease, a proprietary technology that offers ‘always-on low-blue light’ that HP claims offers ‘ultimate comfort with zero impact on color fidelity.’

The company likewise says that its Z by HP product family was made with a focus on sustainability, noting that, for example, the Z Display lineup uses plastics featuring more than 80% ocean-bound and consumer waste plastics. Likewise, 75% of the aluminum used in these monitors has been ‘upcycled’ and the packaging used to ship the monitors is 100% sustainably sourced.

The inclusion of USB-C connectivity makes these monitors ready for the latest and greatest laptops on the market, but they can also be used with other hardware, as well, due to the inclusion of DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 (DreamColor models). The new product lineup brings a variety of resolutions at various price points ranging from Full HD to Quad HD and $ 239 to $ 749.

HP lists the new monitor availability and pricing as follows:

  • HP Z25xs G3 QHD USB-C DreamColor Display is expected to be available in March 2021 for a starting price of $ 599
  • HP Z27xs G3 4K USB-C DreamColor Display is expected to be available in March 2021 for a starting price of $ 749
  • HP Z24f G3 FHD Display is expected to be available in January 2021 for a starting price of $ 239
  • HP Z24n G3 WUXGA Display is expected to be available in January 2021 for a starting price of $ 299
  • HP Z24u G3 WUXGA Display is expected to be available in May 2021 for a starting price of $ 349
  • HP Z27q G3 QHD Display is expected to be available in January 2021 for a starting price of $ 399
  • HP Z27u G3 QHD Display USB-C is expected to be available in March 2021 for a starting price of $ 449
  • HP Z27k G3 4K USB-C Display is expected to be available in March 2021 for a starting price of $ 599

The new HP DreamColor display models join Dell’s newly announced UltraSharp HDR display, a particularly pricey model at $ 5k launched to directly compete with Apple’s Pro XDR Display, beating it specs-wise by offering a 2,000-zone mini-LED array versus the 576 zones found in Apple’s model.

HP’s new models are quite a bit cheaper, of course, pitting them against Dell’s newly introduced and likewise less expensive UltraSharp 24 USB-C Hub monitor with ComfortView Plus tech and a WUXGA resolution; this model is priced at $ 450. In addition, Dell also released its new UltraSharp 34 Curved USB-C Hub monitor with a massive 21:9 aspect ratio, USB-C with 90W power delivery and an $ 800 price tag.

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Video: How to create ‘mind-bending’ drone photos with a little creative thinking

19 Oct

The Cooperative of Photography, better known as COOPH, has shared ‘Droneception,’ a quick tutorial video that breaks down how to create ‘mind-bending’ drone images using two-shot, three-shot and more advanced multi-shot methods.

The video is three-and-a-half minutes long with only visuals and text overlays for instructions, but it’s succinct and manages to effectively convey the steps required to get the shots and make the final compositions. These methods should work with nearly any drone, so whether you’re using the newest DJI or a few year old no-name brand, the magic happens with the creative thinking ahead of time and the post-processing done afterwards.

For more videos, head over and subscribe to COOPH’s YouTube Channel.

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