13 Way to Get Those Creative Photography Juices Flowing

Got a new camera for Christmas but you're not Lindsey Adler yet? Here are some great tips to send you on your way to mastering your new gear.

Starting off in photography is a daunting experience. It's difficult to figure out why your photos don't look as nice as others. The secret to that is that there is no secret — you just need to get better. Creative exercises are a great way to hone your skill quickly. It's all well and good to go out and just shoot what you like, but if you don't have a set goal in mind the learning path is a little bit longer, which can end up being frustrating if you want to reach a certain standard. By focusing on a particular exercise, however, that path becomes shorter. With set goals, it's much easier to see your progression and what areas might need more attention. 

This doesn't just apply to beginners, of course. If you're stuck in creative rut there's nothing better to get you out of it then to simply try something different. Like the video suggests, try a type of photography that you've never tried before. This can actually make you better at your regular work because it forces you to look at the world in a different light.

In B&H's video, they lay out some common ways in which you can practice the craft. My personal favorite is to put a limitation on myself. This is great for two reasons: 1) I can put whatever limitation I want on myself, and 2) committing to a limitation forces me to think laterally. One limitation that I often practice is to put on my nifty fifty and leave the house — no other gear, just me my least used lens. It might not seem like a huge limitation, but being a landscape photographer, I almost always shoot with a zoom lens. After all, I might need a tighter shot but I can't move closer to my subject because there's 50ft drop in front of me. I mean, I could try, but then Christmas just would be the same without me.

Do any of our readers have a favorite creative exercise?

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David Hartwick's picture

I did the self same thing over the Christmas period....stuck on my 50mm , switched over to manual and took my chances!!!
God what a blast from the past....some good pics and a lot of crap ones !!! Back to basics can teach you a lot!!!

Mike O'Leary's picture

Nice one, David. I find it quite liberating compared to lugging around a heavy tripod and three more lenses.

Danijel Bosnjak's picture

I did the same. I got into photography recently and got a D750 and the gen.1 24-70 Tamron with VC. I've been shooting it for a few months now but decided to get a 50mm for Christmas. I got the 1.8 Nikkor one and it is insane. I am not taking it off the camera :) It is sharp as a razor and the bokeh is just mmmh! Here are some shots from a few days ago:

I LOVE this lens! And yes, putting on limitatons on yourself really helps get those juices flowing and opens up all the different perspectives you would otherwise miss, so it is definitely worth the while!

Chris Silvis's picture

As a beginner in the field of photography, Im limited to my 18-55mm and 70-300mm glass. Without all the hoopla of expensive equipment, Im forced to using my imagination to find different angles and lighting and play with those. While it hasnt made me the next Peter Lik or Ansel Adams, it has forced me to stretch my creative muscles in looking for that one moment when it all comes together and the world is right, if but for a moment.
Good hunting peers and mentors.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Thanks for sharing, Chris. It's a healthier way of looking at things rather than pining for expensive gear.