Monday, December 15, 2014

Ideas and Creativity

By now you've got a little toolbox of photographic methods. You have looked at some pictures, pretty critically, and made a stab at tying specific photographic techniques to overall results.

Time to start spreading your wings and taking a few test flights.

Pick something you want to photograph. Something convenient. Probably not a person, not a landmark that's far away. Something in your home, or across the street. Something you can get to daily. Set your camera to black & white. Well, you don't have to, but color is surprisingly hard, black & white's a good place to start.

Go look at the thing you plan to photograph. Take a couple of minutes just looking at it, walking around it (or turning it, if it's small and portable!) Look at how the light falls on it, how it looks close up, how it looks from far away. Now take some pictures. Nothing serious, just random shots. Take a handful, 4 or 5 maybe.

Load these photos up on your computer and look at them, to see what it looks like photographed. If you've elected to shoot in black and white you can see what it looks like monochrome.

Now think.

What is your reaction to this thing? How do you feel about it? How would you like to render it in a photograph?

If you're that kind of person, you could try to think up some adjectives or phrases that capture, a little, how you feel about this thing. If words don't work for you, try to think of another photo, or a book, or a play, or something, anything, that feels like it has the same feeling, the same idea, you'd like to express.

Try to encapsulate your idea, that which you want your photo to convey, in something.

Perhaps you have a vase, and it's beautiful, and you want to show it as beautiful. Perhaps it's a car which is ugly and terrible. Perhaps it's a tree which is majestic, a patch of garden that is particularly verdant. Maybe there's some graffiti that is just so perfect, or so awful, or so completely wrong.

Dig deep and try to expand that idea, that feeling, that whatever-it-is that you want to express in a photograph of whatever it is. Get it as clear and complete in your mind as you can. Beautiful, sure, but is it delicate or potent or erotic or what? And so on.

Now ask yourself this question:

What camera techniques can I bring to bear, to make this happen?

Think about this for a while. Let it sit in your brain for a day or two.

Now go try some ideas out, and look at the photos you get. Are they closer to what you had in mind, or farther away? If you're getting closer, do whatever it is you tried, but harder. If you're getting farther away, do the opposite.

Repeat previous exercises in different places and contexts, to remind yourself what camera techniques you have available.

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