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Coming up With Creative Photo Ideas

Understanding your camera is often just one part of the equation. I'm sure that many of you want to tell a story through your photographs, but how do you even come up with ideas in the first place? 


Everyone has a different approach to inspiration, but there are general techniques that can help you come up with creative ideas. Some of them are directly related to photography, while others are indirectly linked to it. 


I hope that some of these ideas make your photoshoots more enjoyable and give you more opportunities to find inspiration. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Collaborate with Other Photographers


Ideas often grow from other ideas. If you brainstorm with another photographer, you might be able to come up with original ideas together.


There are many exciting ways to collaborate with other people. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


  • Shoot with another photographer in the same location

  • Have a conversation (online or offline) with a photographer you admire

  • Create a double exposure photograph or a diptych by merging two images (one from you, one from another photographer)


Don't be afraid of reaching out to someone new and offering to collaborate. If you're both on the same journey as photographers, you might find it easier to come up with amazing ideas together!


coming up with creative photography ideas

Join Photography Workshops


Photography workshops are another way to collaborate, but they can also teach you how to take stunning photographs in the process. During a workshop, a group of people come together to learn from an experienced photographer. In some cases, they travel to different locations for a week or two, picking up new techniques along the way.


A workshop can open your eyes to new possibilities and help you come up with creative ideas of your own. If you get stuck, you can always ask your instructor for guidance. 


Ian Plant often leads photography workshops around the world, so make sure to check them out if you want to learn the art of nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Get a Photography "Sketchbook" 


Many of the photographers that I know have a sketchbook where they let their ideas come to life. A sketchbook can help you take quick notes and visualise what your photographs will look like before you even take them.


You don't need to be an illustrator to do this well! The point is to help you come up with creative ideas, so don't worry about making the sketches look appealing. If they make sense to you, that's all that matters. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Use Keywords as Inspiration


In the world of creative writing, there's something called a writing prompt, which is a sentence or keyword that's meant to help you come up with interesting story ideas. These prompts are usually very simple (and often random) words that can strengthen your imagination.


Why not use these prompts in photography? 


You can come up with your own keywords or use actual writing prompts as inspiration. Take a moment to think about the keyword that you chose. What comes to mind? Use the images that come to mind as inspiration. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Create an Inspiration Gallery 


As Mads Peter Iversen mentioned in our Photo Masters interview, collecting other people's photographs can be a great way to understand what you like as a photographer.


The point isn't to steal ideas, but to get a better understanding of your creative preferences. Even if you and I specialised in the same genre, we'd probably have different ways of shooting. You might like vibrant colours, while I prefer neutral and minimalistic tones. However, understanding what you like can help you come up with artistic ideas that reflect your vision. 


Save all of your favourite photographs in one folder and analyse them. Do you notice any patterns? What kind of colours do you gravitate towards? Is there a specific subject (i.e. people, mountains, beaches, etc.) that catches your eye?


Take note of all these things to get a clear idea of your needs as a photographer. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Have a Spontaneous Photoshoot


As a photographer, I believe in the power of intuition. Instead of following the rules all the time, it's important to let yourself take photographs spontaneously.


If you usually plan your photoshoots, this may feel uncomfortable. How can you possibly come up with good ideas if you're not sure where you'll be going or what you'll be shooting? Funnily enough, there's a lot of freedom in the unknown. If you embrace it, you may find it easier to actually enjoy your photoshoots and come up with unique ideas on the spot. 


The next time you have a photoshoot, try going out without a plan or with a very basic plan. Make the most of your surroundings without overthinking the rules. It may be difficult at first, but it will help you sharpen your intuition and make great decisions no matter where you go. 


coming up with creative photography ideas

Conclusion


Coming up with creative ideas can be daunting, but don't let the process intimidate you. First, get to know your preferences as a photographer. Then, join workshops, draw your ideas, and experiment with different photography techniques. Even if one method doesn't work, it's likely that another one will help spark some ideas. 


I have a fun assignment for you. Take a look at some of your favourite photographers' images. Do you notice any similarities between your favourite photos? Let me know what they are in the comments section. 




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