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Creative photography is an interesting extension of the more traditional genres, such as landscape or portrait, and refers to photography that is consciously designed to stimulate creative thoughts in the audience and generally encourages a greater degree of experimentation in its production.
It’s highly unique in its content and involves adopting new approaches – often to capture more abstract concepts such as mood but it also works with thematic collections and extensive edits.
One could make the argument that strikingly new techniques and conceptual styles always begin as ‘creative photography’ on the fringes and then, as they become more widely accepted and replicated by other photographers, get incorporated into the mainstream!
A perfect example of this would be the field of minimalism which was first seen as a bizarre and unconventional type of photography but today it’s a very common genre to work it! Another example of this would be the work of Andy Warhol which was heavily criticized at the time of its creation but is now seen as a category or artform in its own right – namely ‘pop art’. However, this rule does not apply throughout the genre and many examples of creative photography may always be far too niche to ever reach a larger audience.
Creative photography is as broad a field as the imagination is and with no limits to its possibilities it makes defining it that much more difficult; however, it does often incorporate paint, mixed media, high levels of post production work and can include montages, collage and unusual uses of perspective, lenses and lighting.
The artform is highly experimental and as the technological capabilities of modern photographers has increased so has the breadth of creative photography. Perhaps the best way to define creative photography then is the pursuit of out of the ordinary, unique and conceptually unusual images.
5 Great Ways You Can Make Your Photography Look Very Interesting And Creative.
Despite the unorthodox nature of creative photography there are several techniques that have come into quite widespread use and gained a surprising popularity among audiences. These are relatively easy to reproduce, particularly with digital cameras and easily available editing software which might explain their appeal for photographers looking to diversify their portfolios and experiment with new concepts.
This is one of the most popular types of creative photography and it’s really gone mainstream with examples of it appearing in portfolios everywhere; from art school students to professional wedding photographers!
Bokeh is a beautiful technique which uses a shallow depth of field to blur out lights or highlights in the background to create a dreamy backdrop to the subject of the photo. This often creates the signature orbs of light that seem to hover in the background and the technique usually works best when it looks effortless and natural – even when it’s anything but! These orbs of light manifest when your camera is trying to shoot unfocused points of light and once you get the hang of the technique you can use it all over the place to great effect.
In the image above the shallow depth of field means that only the lightbulb in the foreground is in focus whereas the lights in the background come out blurred and mellowed. The overall effect is quite charming and artsy.
Mixed Media and Painting.
This is one of the classic methods of creating highly individualized photos – in fact complete one offs – and although the technique is not new it remains a superb example of creative photography at its finest.
After you have taken your photo and printed out a copy you can add paint, or other media, to bring out highlights and express new ideas and concepts on the backdrop of the photograph itself.
You can use anything from markers, varnishes and paint to add a new layer of interest to the photograph which gives this method huge scope for experimentation – with the results being equally diverse in completion. Nonetheless, if you’ve never tried this before and are looking for a new avenue to work with then why not give it a try!
You can also add other types of materials to the photo by gluing them on. For instance, you could glue on pieces of sandpaper, colored card, newspaper clippings or cloth to create strongly textured and multi layered pieces.
Of course, if you want to share the results in a digital format you can scan the finished piece and upload it to your online files to post on social media or add to digital portfolios.
Traditionally, to take a double exposure photo you would take one photo and then rewind the camera film and then take another photo over the same strip of film. This would create a double exposure that could be compositionally very interesting and unusual.
However, today, with some simple post production software you can easily recreate these by combining two separate photos – and some digital cameras even have a double exposure feature built in! The results can be stunning, haunting and impressive! You can use different subjects, or as in the example below, work with one subject in two different photos.
Working with two subjects allows you to portray surprising contrasts and relationships between seemingly disparate objects while if you work with one subject you can create interests parallels between different perspectives.
This is certainly a technique to experiment with because not only can you get some interesting finished results but you’ll also learn a lot about the more abstract sides of composition in the process!
Widely used in street and cityscape photography blurs are an emotive technique of capturing and portraying motion against or within a still background. This can be achieved by using a slow shutter speed that will record the motion in blurs at the same time as the static parts of the scenery come out crystal clear.
You’ve no doubt seen examples of this in cityscape photography where the lights of the traffic create beautiful colored trails through the darkened architecture of the city but there’s no limit to the ways this method can be used.
Also known as time lapse photography, you can use it to contrast the elements in an image with one another in a way that is impossible without. At the more extreme end of this you can take time lapse shots of the night sky and record the movements of the stars or you can get more down to earth, as in the example below, and show the moving water against a beached tree branch! Conceptually, the photo below shows the water falling back into the sea with the tide as the sun sets behind it creating an interesting, if not slightly abstract, parallel between the two.
With advancements in technology macro photography has become a favorite technique of creative photographers and minimalists alike. These super close up shots bring a whole new perspective of the world to your audience and gives them a chance to marvel at patterns, structures, shapes and features of common objects in ways that they may never have noticed before!
In the photo of a dandelion, one of the most common of all plants, the viewer can marvel at the incredible architecture of the seeds that speak to the remarkable designs of the natural world around us. There is no end to the types of things that are of interest when photographed on a macroscale and you could make an interesting series of creative photos that explored this theme.
Other Techniques To Make Your Photography More Creative.
As well as working with specific techniques there are methods that you can apply across the board. Think about the lighting in your work. You can either use natural lighting, shafts of light through windows or create your own effects if you are working in a studio. This will change the entire nature and mood of the photo.
Lenses are a great way to explore the creative potentials of photography. A fisheye lens will give you a unique perspective of the scene which can’t be reproduced in any other way while a telephoto lens will let you create some outstanding photos using forced perspectives.
Always be on the lookout for interesting new perspectives that you can use in your work. Before you take a photo check the different angles that you could use to draw in your viewer or bring out the best in the subject. Photos taken at an upward angle look entirely different to one taken from the side or underneath. Don’t forget that the closer the subject is to the lens the more effect a slight change in angle will have on the perspective.
Creativity is the Central Pillar of High Quality Photography.
Regardless of whether you want to make a career from producing highly creative photography there are still many reasons why you should certainly experiment with it from time to time. Everybody, no matter how talented in their field, can find that their creativity is running a bit dry and one of the best ways to combat this is to branch out into areas of photography you haven’t tried yet!
Pushing yourself to try new things broadens your horizons and will be a constant source of new inspiration which you can use in your other projects. Sometimes, while working in more unusual ways with your camera, some small thing will set off a spark and a whole new chain of ideas and concepts will emerge.
Creativity is something that people, especially photographers and artists, have natural reserves of, but you should never rely too heavily on these and whenever you can find new ways to top them up! Constantly feeding the fires of your creativity with new fuel is a vital part of maintaining a buoyant and interesting output of work. Creative photography is a fantastic genre to explore to help keep your creative reserves overflowing and your inspirations coming thick and fast!
What type of technique do you use to make your photographs interesting?