The Creativator

(Another section of the course made public by popular demand.)

Photography lets me show others how I see the world.

-Preet N. Shoos

Underwhelming as it sounds, unless you have a physical disability, it’s often the photos that look least like the way we all see the world that look the coolest. Here’s a way to generate hundreds of different shots from the same subject. May it be a useful “creativity generator”.

Under the pressure of a client’s eye, creativity can be difficult. Our fight or flight instincts seem more tailored to protecting us from danger than to inspiring a beautiful painting, and photography is stressful for us introverts. Having a concrete list of ideas to refer to can be a creative salvation and it won’t take long for these ideas to become a checklist of things to try. Again, don’t forget that any of these can also be combined together for an endless variety of possibilities! E.g. you’ve played with dramatic side lighting to accentuate texture and you’ve played up close with macro photography, but have you played with side lighting up close and from a distance? Have you played with altering the angle of light in the macro shot. So think of the following and have fun! This list will be most helpful to photographers and cinematographers as its simply designed as a creative kickstart for generating unique visual ideas.

  • Camera location: Close and far from the subject? Above and below the subject? Inside and outside subject?
  • Focal length: Perspective distortion? Subject vs background size relationship?
  • Depth of field: Shallow? Deep? Where is the point of focus? Is the subject more interesting out of focus?
  • Shutter speed: Fast? Slow? Subject motion? Camera motion relative to subject?
  • Lighting: Is there any source of light the subject could be silhouetted against? Overexposed? Flares?
  • Reflections? Ponds, puddles, mirrors, glass or plastic available?
  • Anything you can put in front of the lens like a plastic water bottle?
  • Foreground elements? Framing devices?
  • Forced perspective?
  • Turn camera upside down
  • Black and white
  • Panoramas: Use a phone pano feature to duplicate your friends or create a vertical panorama
  • Is there a narrative to be told? An emotion to be conveyed? Think of a word or theme and how you could relate it.
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