Creative Vision – or not!

When looking at image composition, many of the things we use as our foundation are the typical rules of the trade – things like the the Rule of Thirds, Sunny 16, Golden Mean, etc., etc., etc.  While these rules are all well and good, and they definitely are some of the fundamentals that we all incorporate as we see to create beautiful images – they do not constitute the entire picture (pardon the pun).  As photographers, we should also be challenging ourselves to look at things in unique and new or innovative ways.

For instance, take the Eiffel Tower.  This particular piece of architecture has been around for so long now that photographers have had an opportunity to capture this from pretty much every angle and in virtually all lighting conditions.  You would be hard pressed to come up with a new angle or an unused lighting style for this monument.  So, what if you take a trip to Paris – should you not even bother with a picture?  Of course not!  Snap away, be a tourist  want and get your other half mugging next to the Tower.

The same could be said for the Sistine Chapel, the Venus de Milo, or any other of thousands of historically significant and/or interesting works.  And seriously – what do you think would happen if you went on a trip to Paris, came back and said “Nope, no shots of the Eiffel Tower, been taken too much already, no sense in taking yet another shot of it.” If your family is anything like mine, people would look at you and wonder – “But, you’re a photographer!”

The point here is that you don’t always have to be “on” and looking for that next great shot.  In fact, the minute you stop trying so hard to find inspiration, in general, the faster inspiration finds you.    Let the boring snapshots happen – they’re fun, and a great way to connect with others.  Imagine being at some social function and you’ve got your camera.  Are you looking at the light, wondering what aperture/shutter settings you can feasibly hand hold at without over cranking your ISO, or are you enjoying the time spent with family and friends?  Before you answer that – answer this – which circumstance do you think will provide more inspiration and creativity?

Just the other day I was delivering some computer stuff to another building, which happened to be 14 floors up.  Sure, I have my camera with me – and I looked out the window.  Aerial photography has always intrigued me, but I had never given it another thought – until the other day.  So, didn’t really think much and pointed my camera out the window, just having fun and taking a few snaps of the scenes:


Quite the boring shot eh?  Certainly not even close to being on par with something like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Venus de Milo, or anything like that.  It’s pretty much a scene of nothing.  But from nothing, and from not even trying to always be “on” you can find your creativity and inspiration.  This shot was taken only ten seconds apart from the previous one:


Okay, so it’s still not as breath-taking as any of the other historical monuments, but you gotta admit, that curved line of the building receding into the distance is kinda neat, eh?  This isn’t really looking for props or accolades though.  The point here is to not let yourself become too preoccupied with achieving your next great “hero” shot on every capture.  That is only setting yourself up for failure because no one can attain that.  Sure, it’s important to try and stretch your creative muscle, and try new captures, and experiment with new styles, using different lighting and all the stuff that goes hand-in-hand with being a photographer, but remember, before you can be a photographer, you gotta be a person!

Enjoy photography, but don’t forget to live your life!

Don’t forget to pick up the feed for the blog and the podcast – all during the month of May, you could be shooting to win a copy of Lightroom!  One of the best ways to do that is to just go out and have some fun.  Forget about the details from time to time and just enjoy life – because that is when you will most likely get your hero shots – when you least expect them.  So, just enjoy life, and enjoy photography – the rest comes naturally!  Happy living and we’ll see you back here tomorrow!

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4 comments for “Creative Vision – or not!

  1. May 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I so much agree but from a slightly different point of view. Every event / situation gives its own opportunities. Just remember to not do the things you usually do, that everyone else does. Think scale, think extremes and constrain yourself to just one lens (maybe a good, multipurpose zoom – my fav is a 17-85mm image-stabilised one that is on my camera by default).

    If I were at the Eiffel Tower right now, I’d be looking for close-up points of view where the girders intersect in patternful ways; I’d be up-close and personal, looking for textures / peeling paint / rust; I’d be on my back to view things from a worms-eye point of view…

    With friends and family in tow, I’d pose them and use a v.narrow depth of field so the Eiffel Tower was thrown sharply out of focus. I might deliberately find a spot where I could pose them so it looks like they have it on their heads like a hat.

    On a tripod I might do multiple exposures of only those people taking photos of it (or pointing at it) and merge them into one in the digital darkroom.

    And during all this, I’d be observing, looking for that unusual pov / comp that speaks in a new way – if it’s a monument or scene that has been “done to death” by photographers the world over then new shots will only come from the extremes. If you do what the all the other photographers do then you’re going to get the same sort of shots — so dare to be different!

    Sorry, turned into a bit of a ramble…

  2. May 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Lovely Zen like post! Very Inspiring! When we slowly start to know a lot of things and start to capture a lot of shots, we tend to stop taking those trivial shots and go looking in the pursuit of the best. Most of the times, the best shots happen when we are relaxed and enjoying the scene rather than frantically looking around to take the best ones! Creativity comes spontaneously and we should let it happen that way.

  3. May 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Ah, you touch on something so true. I get a little irritated when people expect me to take a certain cliched shot – whether on vacation, at a wedding, etc. Inspiration is everything! I just look around, and if it moves me, only then do I want to shoot it. (Though sometimes I feel obligated when I see such landmarks, but I don’t enjoy taking those photos! haha). Cameras don’t have cruise control for a reason 😉

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