These 9 tried-and-tested methods will bring a new lease of life to your photography
They say creativity can’t be pushed, but it can be helped along. Is it worth taking part in a photography workshop? Should you take on a personal project? Hear from a number of photographers to find out how they’ve enhanced their creativity.
1. Editing tutorials
Learning new editing skills can transform your work. Fashion photographer Elspeth Van Der Hole finds tutorials on YouTube and then uses her new-found knowledge to go back and test it out on old images, to see them in a completely new light. Her improved editing skills have also helped her to redefine her style. Similarly portrait photographer Holly Wren also uses online tutorials such as phlearn.com to help develop her skin editing.
© Elspeth Van Der Hole
2. Attend a workshop
You might think you know all you need to know about your specialist subject, but attending a workshop can open your eyes to new ways of being creative. Wedding photographer Marianne Chua attended the Snap Photo Festival. “It helped me to refresh my attitude and approach to wedding photography by encouraging me to be bolder in sticking to a style that works for me and ignore wedding conventions,” she explains. Some workshops might inspire you in other ways. Commercial and wedding shooter Tom Soper spent the day learning about food photography with Guardian photographer Jill Mead. “The course inspired me to work on a project for 2017 where I will document a year in the life of my parents’ kitchen garden,” he says.
3. Find inspiration
Sometimes seeing an amazing image taken by someone else is enough to plant a new idea in your mind. Many photographers – such as portraitist Jessica Kelly, wedding shooter Nick Church and fashion photographer Magic Owen – spend their time browsing social media platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. “I don’t look at the latest equipment, I spend a lot of time looking at fashion, hair and make-up, I’ve become very good at predicting what is going to be on trend,” Magic confesses.
If you need a break from your screen then getting out and finding a change of scenery is always a good start. Read a book, watch a film or visit exhibitions and galleries for inspiration like Jessica does. “It really gets my creative juices flowing!” she says.
Input from others can bring new ideas to the table and open up your mind. If you shoot with models, get a make-up artist, hairstylist or designer on board. Advertising and editorial photographer Joseph Ford regularly works with other creatives. “For me photography is essentially a collaborative process, and while I often come up with ideas on my own, producing them requires the input of other people on every level,” he explains. Fashion photographer Elspeth often works with models she has shot before to be more creative: “you can really feel your confidence building and the barriers coming down working with someone you’ve worked with before.”
© Joseph Ford
5. Get feedback
Seeking feedback can help you find what’s missing in your work, or where you should go next. Holly Wren decided to push herself and her business by meeting with a creative consultant. “It’s never easy to hear negatives, but it’s important to have an outsider take an objective view and help you develop. It’s allowed me to identify the areas where I need to be more creative and get out there and action them.”
6. Follow others
Think of your favourite photographer, now think about what you love about their work – how do they do it? Some photographers will actually be able to answer that question if they’ve published books. Elspeth Van Der Hole told us that she has recently read books by Scott Kelby and also fashion photographer Lara Jade.
Another way of finding out how others work is to work with them. Ask if you can assist a fellow photographer and share your knowledge with each other, or seek someone who is more experienced and ask to shadow or assist them.
7. Personal work
It might be as simple as shooting something different from your client work, or it could be taking on a specific project. Wedding photographers Chris and Anii (Bloom Weddings) both have their own respective fields outside of weddings.
“It keeps it fresh and keeps the creativity flowing. Chris shoots music photography, I shoot maternity and baby photos. We also go travelling,” Anii tells us.
© Bloom Weddings
8. Branch out completely
You don’t have to do anything too drastic but big changes can have big impacts. Richard Seymour decided to get involved with virtual reality and shoot 360° VR stills to develop his understanding. “Photography and film are so fast moving now, but these new technologies are only going to be real commercial opportunities if one extends the envelope, so embracing VR as quickly as possible has given me a leading edge over some of my competition,” says Richard. By keeping up with trends and extending his skill set Richard has not only become creative through a new format, but has also gained new clients.
9. Give yourself restrictions
If you’re stuck in a routine you might find it hard to break out and find new creativity. Music photographer Adam Elmakias regularly goes on tour with bands which means he shoots the same band and show, often at venues he’s shot at before. To mix it up, Adam sets limits to challenge himself in new ways. “Sometimes I only use my 50mm for the first five songs, or maybe I always try and get the same shot from the same location, so today I’ll force myself to get it from somewhere different. It seems simple, but I think it’s beneficial. I try not to get stuck in a comfortable zone,” Adam says.
As featured in Professional Photo magazine, issue 128.