Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shake Up Your Photography

If you are reading this, you are likely searching for a way out of some photography rut. We've all been there multiple times--it's very easy to get into a rut.

There are many different reasons you might find yourself needing to shake things up a bit. Sometimes I look at my recent work and find it to be less interesting than I thought it was at the time I created it. Other times I'm just not motivated to get out with a camera. Whatever the reason, it typically stems from a lack of inspiration or imagination (or both).

But the reasons are not important and not what we're here to discuss. What is truly important is getting out of the rut you find yourself in. You need to shake up your photography!

The good news is that there are many different things that you can do. You certainly have plenty of options! Let's take a look at 10 of them.

#1 - Get Out With Your Camera

This is not only the best thing you can do, but it's also the only essential step to getting out of a rut.

Legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said it best, "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." There is a lesson in each image captured. The more you photograph, the better you will become.
VW And Jesus - Tehachapi, California
The above image was captured on a recent day when I didn't feel inspired to photograph, but I forced myself to go out with a camera anyway.

#2 - Approach The Subject Uniquely

After you find something that you wish to photograph, ask yourself how you can capture whatever it is in a unique way. Think outside the box. Try to make the image different in some way.

It may not be completely obvious at first, but once the creative juices start to flow, you'll have several ideas to try. Some will work, some won't. The important thing is to try--if you are in a rut, the status quo simply won't do.
Hazy Ridges - Grand Canyon, Arizona
I created the above photograph of the Grand Canyon by pointing the camera's lens in a direction most would not have. The obvious beauty and grandeur was all around, but this scene was hidden in the shadows and haze.

#3 - Use A Different Camera

Don't grab the camera you use most often. Find the one you almost never reach for and take that with you. Try to use the camera's limitations to your advantage. 
Light Girl - Goodyear, Arizona
I used a $20 film camera from China called a Holga to create the above image. Notorious for light leaks, it's that weakness that makes this image interesting.
California Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
Cell phone cameras are an often forgotten photography tool. The image above was captured and edited using my Samsung Galaxy S.

#4 - Go To A Great Location

A grand location can inspire. When our days get hum-drum, sometimes we need something to wake us up. There is great beauty in this world, but it won't find you--you must search it out.
Cathedral Rock Reflected - Sedona, Arizona
It is difficult to not be inspired by places like Sedona. Find some place of great beauty near where you live.

#5 - Don't Go To A Great Location

While going to a grand location is great for inspiration, nothing fosters imagination like finding beauty in the ordinary. Look under your nose at what you pass by several times each day. Try to find a fresh perspective on these seemingly ho-hum things.
Lost Wishes - Tehachapi, California
The above photograph of dandelions after a windy day was captured in the yard just a few steps from my front door.

#6 - Look For Moments

Nothing captures our emotions like a human moment. Pay close attention to interactions between people. Look for expressions. Try to find the pinnacle of the situation to open the shutter.
Sisters - Surprise, Arizona

#7 - Get Up Early

Photography is painting with light. Photographs require light and quality photographs require quality light. While quality light can be found any time of the day or night if you look hard enough, the most obvious quality light is found near sunrise.
Moon Over Desert Sunrise - Mojave, California
 The above photograph was captured about 15 or 20 minutes before sunrise.

#8 - Use Creative Filters

Some cameras have creative editing "filters" built-in. My Samsung NX200 and Pentax K-x both do, but the K-x has more by far. Think of ways to use these to create unique images. Or use a cell phone camera and some creative post-processing apps. Try and make something that looks different from your typical photographs.
Girl Sliding - Tehachapi, California
I post-processed the above image on my K-x DSLR.

#9 - Capture Movement

Most photographs are a micro-second of time. It's hard to put your brain around something like 1/500th of a second. Photographs that convey motion (like the one above) fascinate me, because a dimension of life has been added to the image.

And it's not always easy to effectively capture movement--sometimes it can be quite a challenge. But the end results are typically rewarding.
Fast Freight - Cajon Pass, California

#10 - Find A Rainbow 

Where there's misting water, there is a rainbow. Look carefully, especially when the sun is low. You may have to change your angle to find the spot that is "just right." Sometimes you can find "rainbows" in lens flare. Be creative. This is a good way to add unique interest to your images.
Rainbow Fountains - Goodyear, Arizona
Rainbow Window - Tehachapi, California
So there you have it. Ten ideas to help you shake up your photography and get out of your rut. Now get out there and create!

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