How to Encourage Your Photographic Creativity


Being creative or simply having the ability to create on demand is one of the biggest assets you can have in this era. The question is "how do we unlock or keep creativity flowing?"  The main steps you need to keep in mind are simple.

1. Encourage creativity.

2. Train your brain to be more creative.

Exercising your mind on both these steps can keep it flowing with creativity.

Encourage your creativity, and you'll increase your creativity. Of course, this is true of most things you want to see more of in your life.  Encouragement can work wonders, but how do you encourage creativity?

Start by paying attention to it. Our subconscious mind tends to give us more of what we pay attention to. Ignore the creative aspects of your life, and you are telling your subconscious that they are unimportant. Consciously note when you’re creative, and your subconscious mind will start feeding you more creative ideas. Just look for it, and you’ll find more of it.

For this image, I placed sunglasses in front of my lens, then took the shot.

This is a tricky one. I placed a glass filled with soda and shot this with my iPhone. Then, I used Photoshop to place it over the image I took.

Put it on paper.

You can encourage creativity by writing your ideas down. Start keeping an idea journal. Do this regularly, and you’ll notice that you often start having more ideas the moment you start to write. A so-so idea may normally be forgotten, but by writing it down, you may remember it. Then, your subconscious can work on it and may transform it into something very creative.

Spice it up.

For more creativity in your life, start putting creative ideas into practice. If you paint, paint something totally different from your usual subjects. If you sell houses, try a new approach. Even just driving a different route to work to see if it is quicker can encourage your creativity. Just get your mind working outside of its regular patterns. 


Changing your surroundings can encourage creativity. If you normally photograph in a studio, try photographing outside — like industrial complex or maybe an abandoned shack (do it in a legal manner). If you write, try sitting on a roof to write. For new ideas for your business, take a notebook to the park, and sit by the duck pond. Any change of environment can get your brain out of its creative rut.

Work on creativity training.

To dramatically increase your creativity, develop creative habits of mind. If you watch a good comedian, you’ll see that she has trained her mind to look for the “different angle” on everyday things. Why not train your mind to do the same?

For these images, I used a simple champagne glass and tilted it a bit to capture a blurred image below the face.

These two techniques are called “assumption challenging” and “random presentation” and are classic creative problem solving techniques. There are dozens more. If you train your brain to habitually use these or other techniques and provide it with a little encouragement, you really can have more creativity.

Isaac Alvarez's picture

Isaac Alvarez is a Los Angeles-based photographer. His work is a reflection of contemporary/cinematic. While his images are often on the edge of any situation, photographing the situation is not nearly as interesting as photographing the edges of human emotions.

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Isaac, creativity "cross-training" is one of my favorite subjects.

One my end, I discover that creative writing and drawing unlock fresh visions and ideas that swirl back into my photography. Back and forth and back again Would love to hear others' ideas.

Some of my own back and forth:

Love your unique style, will definitely write more simple tricks.

Ive been making a habit of having a note pad on me all the time so I can capture more spontaneous ideas. I also have a folder full of screen shots on my phone and my laptop of inspiration that I have came across. I remember watching this interview with a really accomplished art director. He talked about a room full of file cabinets he has. The file cabinets are full of cultural references that he uses for inspiration. That really inspired me and made me want to come up with a way to capture those references when I cam across them. So that has basically turned into a note book and a file full of screen captures. I think Im still working it out.

But I think that last section "creative training" is a whole another article you could write. It is something that Im very interested in and am always trying to explore.

Here is a picture of a clock radio that I took on a wim one day when I had a gray seamless set up. I set it on a sheet of glass just to see what it would look like. 30 min later I had this photo.

I have also found that "sativa" in the right circumstances is a great way to encourage creativity.

WOW this is a great image. I love it. Yes I'm definitely going to touch base on "creative training". Having a notebook is definitely a great tool you can use to sharpen your creativity. I find that going back to my old work brings new ideas to the table. Thanks for sharing Martin.

Thank you! I agree looking at old work is a great idea for a lot of reasons.

Those images are bangin! Good job!

Thanks Rob! Just simple techniques, I challenge you to take a stab at it.

I'm actually looking for different, cheap, subtle things to spice up some portrait shoots. This is perfect!

Also try burning a filter with a lighter, I got some awesome neat stuff with it like this one. It gave me a greenish tint at the bottom of my photo. "DONT BURN THE LENS just the filter" lol.

Great ideas. I'm creatively spent.... I feel stagnant and bored. So I like these creative suggestions. I use my Evernote app religiously for writing down ideas, snapping a great location or inspiration...I could not live without it. I've got some great ideas waiting to be shot, I just need to do it.

Gotta get those ideas started. I wish you the best Korbin and post them here when you got some done.

When trying to stir up creativity I like taking images of two different things under the same lighting condition and blending them in Photoshop.