As a photographer, it’s pretty common (dare I say unavoidable) to go through different peaks and troughs with regard to your creativity. There are times when you feel so incredibly inspired that you can't wait to pick up your camera for another day, and you have so many ideas for images that you can't possibly take them all! However, on the flip side, there are also bound to be days when you don't feel inspired to pick up your camera at all, much less know what to photograph with it.
Or you may be a new photographer, wondering what you on earth you can photograph next, and needing a little push to get you going again - and maybe even to learn something new :)
In order to get you out shooting again - whatever stage you are at - I've complied a list of ideas for 25 photographs you can take (along with links to further instruction if we have it) that will help you feel more creative at those times when you brain is on vacation.
I've also created a simple PDF with ALL these ideas written out for you, so that you can print it out and keep it nearby. Check off all the ideas and you'll have a great variety of images! Click on the image below to download it. Oh, and it's totally free :)
1. Self Portrait
There's nothing guaranteed to shake you out out of your comfort zone faster than getting yourself on the other side of the camera too! It's challenging for sure, but a great way to try something new. You can learn more about exactly HOW to take a self portrait here.
2. Black & White
Black and white images are timeless, and I love them! "Seeing" in black and white can be tricky at first, because you have to mentally convert the image to black and white in your head, and start to see all the range of tones in the image, from black to white with all the shades of grey in between. You can read more about what makes a great black and white photograph here.
Adding texture to your image is a great way to give the photograph another dimension - the sense of touch. Go out and either photograph texture as the subject, or add some into your image as a way to add interest. You can read more about how to use texture in photography here.
4. Rule of Thirds
If you are just starting out, perhaps you haven't been using this age old composition tool. Even if you are already doing this, how about thinking about some way you can compose using the rule of thirds, but in a different way that what you have been doing? Read all about the Rule of Thirds here if you need to refresh your memory.
5. Add Noise (yes, really!)
Yup, after spending around three years trying to figure out how to REDUCE noise in my images, I now consider whether to add some noise to give an image a grittier feel. Crazy talk, I know, but great for when you really want to try something different. Read about how to get it in camera, or add it in processing here.
6. Detail Shot
Feel like you are only getting shots of people and their faces? Well, get in closer and look for some details! Detail shots are my fave, and here's all the different ways you can do that here.
Starbursts (or sunbursts - both the same thing) are when the light in your images take on a star shape - and you can get them just by using a really small aperture when shooting. You can read a step by step guide to shooting starbursts here.
8. Contrasting Colors
Color plays such an important part in our images, but it's not one that we often think about! Here is just one of the ways you can use color effectively - use contrasting colors (also called chromatic contrast) You can read all about how to use contrasting colors here.
Once you have mastered the Rule of Thirds and other basic compositions, you could try moving this a step further and starting to use golden compositions, such as the golden means, the golden triangle and the golden spiral. You can read more about all the golden composition tools here.
A Silhouette is a fantastic way to create a totally different image from the same scene, and is such an interesting use of light! Here's a step by step guide to a great silhouette.
Now, you won't remember all of these, so don't forget to download the full list of ideas so you can check them off as you do them!
11. Get Bokeh!
The word "bokeh" comes from a Japanese word meaning ”blur” or ”haze” and refers to the part of the image that you have intentionally blurred by using a selective depth of field. This affect is used a lot in photography to focus the eye on a specific subject within the frame (used a lot in portrait photography to isolate the person from a background) and just to create a more pleasing image. You can read more about how to get good bokeh here!
One way to make your compositions more interesting is to try to create triangles within your composition - they help divide the frame, guide the eye, and just add visual interest. Why not intentionally set up an image to incorporate a triangle? You can read more about them and see some examples here!
13. Negative Space
Negative space (sometimes also called White Space) is simply an area of "empty" space around the subject of your image. Space that is negative is usually either a neutral or contrasting background that draws your eye to the main subject of your photograph.You can read more on it here.
14. Portrait Close Up
A simple portrait where the persons face takes centre stage is one of my favorites! Here's 10 tips for a portrait close up for you too.
15. Make Light the subject
Light can be a great source of inspiration, so why not make it the subject of your photograph, rather than in a supporting role?
16. Shoot Wide Open
Challenge yourself to shoot wide open (where you have your lens aperture at the widest point) and see what you get! You'll sometimes be amazed with the results. Here some tips for shooting wide open.
Although the Rule of Thirds is a great guideline, there are times when having your image in the centre can work too - any time where there is a sense of symmetry to the image.
18. Macro Shot
Macro is one thing that is positively guaranteed to get me out of the creative rut - I just love it. You don't really need to have a dedicated macro lens to give it a try, simply focus on the detail and crop in a bit. Here's 10 Tips for Macro.
19. Shoot From Above
Many times we forget to take images from this vantage point due to the fact that it's slightly harder to do! Get yourself higher than your subject and look down - a bird's eye view can make a simple, mundane activity and make it look different and exciting.
20. Shoot In Low Light
We often seek out lots of light to work in so that we can have more control over our settings and keep our ISO down. Sometimes it's really fun to go the other way and seek out situations that don't have a lot of light - I personally love a moody, low light image, especially when converted to black and white.
Finding a frame for your subject is a great way to draw attention to them and add depth to your image. There are loads of framing options when you start to look for them - windows, doors and even trees can make great simple frames.
22. Intentionally Out of Focus
Once you have learnt to take sharp, in focus images, you can turn it around and take soft, out of focus images with intent! This is actually much harder to do well than you might think. To do this, simply switch off the Auto Focus on your lens, and manually defocus to a point where you are happy with the "look" - usually when you can still tell what the subject is, but it's softer. Try it just to see how hard it is!
23. Use Back Light
Shooting with the sun or window behind your subject is a great way to add a little extra interest to your image. You can find a step by step guide to using Back Light here.
24. Use Deliberate Under or Over Exposure
I spent weeks advising people on how to get exposure correct in camera, and here I am telling you to ignore it! Under or over-exposing can give you a different look or feel to an image - for example, underexposing slightly gives a more moody image, whilst over-exposing creates a more happy feel. Underexposing also helps bring out detail, so can be a good option for macro.
25. Fake a Black Background
This is a great trick for times when you want to "black" out the background, but don't want to put up any kind of fabric or nonsense like that. You can read a tutorial (with pullbacks!) here.
There you go - 25 images you can take when you feel you need someone to go tell you what to shoot! Remember you can download these ideas to work through, or simply to have to hand when you are feeling less than inspired!