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Are you struggling for new ideas? Do your creative batteries feel as flat and lifeless as a skunk in the fast lane?
Here are 60 ways to breathe new life into your love of photography and re-energize your inspiration.
1. Play with Photoshop
So much of photography these days happens after the shutter release has been pressed. There’s probably a ton of things that you don’t know how to do in Photoshop. Learn something new and see what that does for your photography potential.
2. Read the Manual
It’s not just Photoshop that can do all sorts of things that you don’t know about. Your camera probably has more settings and functions than you know… or know what to do with. You might find a lot of new ideas in the middle of your camera manual.
3. Watch a Movie
Manuals are all well and good, but movies have cinematographers too. There’s not much you can’t learn about landscape photography by sitting back and watching an old Sergio Leone film.
4. Read a Newspaper
Or you can be a little more intellectual and read a newspaper. The Sunday magazines have the best photos but the work by the staff photographers can be great models for creating striking images for amateurs as well as for photojournalists.
5. Visit a Flea Market
Strange objects mean strange shapes, odd shadows and plenty of potential for unique compositions. And you don’t even have to buy anything.
6. Shop at a Farmer’s Market
You never know what you might find at a flea market. At a farmer’s market, you know you can find colours, spheres, people and displays. And dinner too.
7. Check out Some Wedding Photojournalism
It might not be the sort of thing that your clients expect, but the images on display at the Wedding Photojournalist Association’s website might get you thinking about brides and grooms in a whole new way. Instead of the posing and the tripod, you’ll get to blend into the crowd and document the scene. It’s a whole new skill and it could give your wedding photography a whole new lease of life.
8. Hit the Water
You don’t have to be a scuba diver to shoot underwater images. You just need waterproof housing and access to the sea, a swimming pool or even a pond. And once you’re wet, don’t forget to look up as well as down. Some of the most inspiring images can be taken at the point where the light hits the surface of the water.
9. Hit the Streets
There’s a good reason that street photography is so popular: there are so many good things to shoot there. If you haven’t been photographing roads and crowds, give it a go. And if you have, try a different road.
10. Join a Demonstration
Demonstrations are full of flags, banners, placards and crowds. You can lose people in the mass or pick out expressions in the crowd. The only cause you have to support is photography.
11. Watch a Sports Event
The pros have it easiest at sports events with prime positions and lenses longer than your arm. But you can still try something new at your park on a Saturday afternoon.
12. Visit the Zoo
It might not be as thrilling as a Kenyan safari, but a zoo still has the sort of photographic subjects you can’t find anywhere else. Of course, you don’t have to try to squeeze your lens between the bars. Shooting the kids in awe at the monkeys can create some interesting images too.
13. Shoot Fast at a Race Track
Race tracks also give you an opportunity to use a new technique: speed. Fast cars and a faster shutter speed can make for some inspired shooting.
14. Visit an Exhibition
Obvious, really. And yet so often overlooked. Any decent-sized town is likely to have at least one photographic exhibition on at any one time. Take in yours and see what the top photographers did to get on the wall.
15. Browse Google Images
You don’t even have to leave the house to find inspiring images though. Toss keywords into Google Images, admire the good photos that turn up and ask how you would have improved the poor ones.
16. Join Flickr Groups
The pictures in Flickr Groups are great places to see what other people are doing with a theme; the discussions are great places to find out how they did it. And you’ll probably find that the feedback you get on your own photos will give you plenty to think about too.
17. Just Step Back and Watch
For children’s photographers in particular, there can be a temptation to just dive in and get the photos. Sometimes though, lowering the lens, stepping back and watching the subject can reveal whole new sides. That’s true for portrait photographers, wedding photographers, animal photographers… in fact just about any photographer!
18. Roam the World with Flickr Maps
Flickr Maps might be a bit slower than Google Maps, but it comes with Flickr Images built-in. Choose a part of the world with interesting topography and see what photographers have done with it.
19. Change your Angle
Most people shoot an object by placing the lens right in front of it. When David Rubinger lay on the floor to shoot up at paratroopers in front of Jerusalem’s Western Wall during Israel’s Six Day War, he created an iconic image. What would you create?
20. Change your Time
Find yourself shooting at the same time of day each weekend? So break a habit. Discover what the light at dusk, mid-afternoon or early morning can do for your ideas. And it’s not just the light that can make the difference here. Just breaking your routine can often be enough to give you a new perspective and a whole new way photography habit.
21. Browse Stock Sites
You don’t have to be a buyer to check out the images on stock sites. You can be a professional photographer looking for ideas too… especially ideas for commercial images. And the searching is simple. Looking at the top-sellers will give you a good idea of what the market is buying, and browsing by category will show what other photographers are doing with their themes.
22. Write a Blog
Darren Rowse, over at Digital Photography School, mentions how much just writing about photography has helped to improve his picture-taking. It doesn’t matter if no one reads it; just putting your thoughts on the page could give you some new ones.
23. Read a Blog
Of course, reading a photography blog is even more inspiring thing than writing one. Not only can you learn what went into a photo and where the idea came from, you can also discover how to sell it. But then we would say that, wouldn’t we?
24. Buy a Photography Book
You can never own too many photography books, and each one you buy should give you a bunch of new ideas. Although that’s true of both books of photographs and books about taking pictures, you might find that photography guides give you more inspiration than a collection of images. The former will give you techniques to try out, while the latter will show you the techniques the greats have used. Stil, if you’re really stuck, go shopping.
25. Browse a Bookstore
Or save your cash, take a pile of book to the store’s café and sit and enjoy yourself. In fact, you don’t even have to take the photography books with you. Even the dust jackets of the hardbacks can give you ideas for shots, especially commercial images.
26. Step Away from the Magazine Racks
And if book covers can give you ideas, just think what magazine covers can do. These are designed to be eye-catching and stand out on a shelf. They could make your next photo stand out too.
27. Make Friends in the Photography World
Some photographers find it easiest to shoot alone. Others like to shoot as a group. Everyone can benefit from the feedback, discussions and habits of other photographers.
28. Join Photography Organisations
If you’re a professional and you’re not a member of a professional photography organisation, you should be. Not only can organisations help with insurance and legal matters, their news, contests, and profiles of other photographers can inspire to make your own splash among your peers.
29. Shoot Yourself
When you’re stuck for a subject, always remember that there’s an interesting one behind the lens too. Be brave. Put yourself in the shot for a change.
30. Revisit Your Past
You probably have a stack of old images that you rarely review, including many that you can’t bring yourself to look at. Give them another chance. A shot that failed a few years ago might well be achievable today — and give you ideas for more.
Courtesy of Laurie at Photopreneur
Photos courtesy of mab2413, joel.weismann, cathyse97 and hen power at Photopreneur