Photography for the uninspired

This is a collection of ideas for the 31 day challenge.  Actually it is really a list for photography at any time of the year when your inspiration is failing.  Work, Christmas, family.  It’s the end of the year and they are long days, and there is too much to do.  Why take a photo? You know that’s the wrong question! You just need to do it anyway.  Sometimes there are well springs of creativity in boredom, frustration or just being hassled.

Pick up the camera – take whatever is in front of you. Cupboard / drawer / kitchen cabinet – it doesn’t matter. Do it again.  Do it several times.  I don’t know about you but I don’t seem to be able to take the exact same picture twice.  There is something in me that makes me alter it, ever so slightly, every time.  In that urge there is creativity.  Which is the best shot?  What makes it better?  You need to try getting that something better to be stronger.  Focus on that one element.

You could try Arthur Farmer’s exercise.  Arthur explained that you walk to the front door and step outside.  The exercise is to take 5 shots and make them all look completely different.  You are not meant to move your feet.  You can Look up, look down, change focal length, get in close, go wide.  Arthur would show us his group of 5 on the slide projector along with comments like, “imagine that”, “a different perspective”, “exactly the same spot, yet totally different”.  Arthur was a great innovator.

Take pictures of the people around your home.  What are they doing?  Be candid.  Un-posed pictures can be dreadful at times, however they can also be wonderful.  People caught in the act.  To make people relax give them something to hold.  Something huge, or alternately something tiny.  Ask them to jump.  There are many great photographers who take a jump photo as part of their set.  It shows another side of the person.  Ask them to jump while holding something.  Perhaps a glass of water.  Did they spill it?  Was it a good shot?  Remember to use a fast shutter speed, or flash to freeze the movement.  Don’t forget the pets.  The dog jumping for a ball can also be a great image.

No people at home – then do a selfie.  Place your camera lens up on the floor with a 10 second time delay. Stand up and look down at the camera and smile.  You can place your camera on a tripod with a mirror behind so that you can compose yourself in the live view.  Use the remote to fire the shutter.  Experiment with poses from magazines.  Use different lighting arrangements.  If you don’t have a flash, use window light, or desk lamps, perhaps the fridge light.

Still feeling uninspired?  Here are a few more ideas.

Find a chair and climb up onto it.  The world is different up here.  Experiment.  Look straight down on people eating at the dinner table, or reading a book.  Even the plates set out on the table look rounder from above.

Have a look at your Woolworths catalogue.  How do they make ordinary shopping items look so good?  You know you are going to have to go to the fridge and get some of your groceries and try different lighting schemes on them.  Perhaps spray them with the plant mister.  Grab a bread knife and cut some stuff in half.  Perhaps an onion, an orange or a cabbage.  The cut edge creates a different point of view for that object.  Cut it at a different angle.  An apple cut vertically will look different to one cut horizontally.  What about a flower from the garden, a rose, a roll of newspaper, experiment with what’s around the house.

Have you got a macro lens?  Why not do a macro quiz.  Up close things look very different and you may not recognize them.  A match head can look like red bitumen. A strawberry looks like a 60’s abstract.  Experiment with taking closeups of objects, so close that you do not recognize them.

Another idea is to empty the contents of your bag onto the table.  Sort all of the objects by size, colour or shape.  Photograph the collection of objects.  Resort and do it again.  Put your hand in with the objects.  Do the same for the other members of the house.  What do you discover?  Do the contents of your bag become a form of biography?  Can you assemble other objects to create meaning?  Empty your pockets.  Lay tomorrows clothes on the bed.  they look different laid out than when they are worn. Photograph both.

Look for shapes.  Do a series of square objects.  Try and be innovative.  a CD cover, the clothes line, the shape between your fingers, a match end on, a folded napkin, the inside of the cutlery drawer, a box of raisins.  A collection of 12 squares photos cropped to the same size can look quite striking.  Try round objects, triangles or star shapes. Can you find letter shapes?  Can you make an alphabet?

Have you tried “shutter drag” or “split tone”, or “zoom burst”.  If you don’t understand those terms,  Google them and watch a tutorial and then give it a try.

There’s a lot you can do with water.  Can you photograph a water droplet as it lands on a pool of water?  Did you know a droplet acts like a lens and will bring the blurred background into sharp focus.  You can use long exposures to blur running water or high speed flashes to capture the intricate shape of water flung through the air.  You can drop things into water and capture the tracery of tiny air bubbles that follow the object below the surface of the water.  How about bubbles?

There is so much that you could do.  You know it all starts with you deciding that you will do it.  Go on,  Why don’t you just do it right now.