Explore & Expand Your Creativity With These 7 Photo Shoots

Photography is like every other creative muscle; you’ve got to exercise it to make it stronger. And just like every other muscle, you’ve got to work different angles, you’ve got to get up every day and go again and you have to target different areas.

Many photographers just starting out can quickly find themselves in a creative rut. They’ve mimicked every self-portrait and subject matter and landscape, and they suddenly find themselves taking the same picture over and over again. They know how to stick to the science and capture the one iconic image from each scene, but they miss everything else that is happening around them.

To get out of this rut, you’ve got to try something new. Many photography blogs suggest challenging yourself by picking a theme and taking one new photograph in that theme each day. Along these same lines, we’ve compiled one-week worth of unique light captures. Challenge yourself by creating a different photo shoot geared around each one. Then return to your photography studio and analyze what you've captured. You’ll be surprised by how differently you start to see the world around you.

1. Bokeh bubbles:

Even if you haven’t heard of bokeh bubbles, you’ve seen them. You’ve likely seen bokeh bubbles created by soft Christmas lights in the background. They are a great way to capture a whimsical, magical moment. Bokeh is the idea of focusing on your subject in the background so that your foreground becomes blurry. Or vice versa. The effect is created with large diameter lenses and large apertures, meaning it typically requires a DSLR and is difficult to replicate with an iPhone (which makes it that much more fun). And try experimenting with unique cutouts over your lens to give your bokeh bubbles unique shapes.

2. Light trails:

Photo: Aurélien Dockwiller

Photo: Aurélien Dockwiller

Light trails require a moving light source and are therefore typically captured outside, at night. Cars are a very popular form of light trails. But get creative. There are light trails everywhere. Light trail photography is created with long exposures, long shutter speeds and a tripod, since your camera will have to be still and isolated for a period of time. There is no exact camera setting for shooting light trails and it is often dependent on the amount of ambient light. Though shutter speeds between 10-20 are a good place to start.  This will give your subject time to move through the frame.

3. Model village/ tilt shift:

Tilt-shift is a fun camera trick that makes reality appear miniature. The most common tilt-shift captures are from aerial views, or looking down on your subject matter. This helps to make everything in the image appear smaller than they actually are.

Tilt-shift, in fancy terms, is essentially parallel lines that appear to converge due to distortion and then are realigned to look parallel. Today, tilt-shift photographs are often created in the photography studio during post production.

Photo:  Serg Bataiev

4. Time lapse:

At the crux of capturing the perfect time lapse is an Intervalometer and a little math. An Intervalometer as an automated camera trigger that once attached to your DSLR will take a quick succession of pictures based on the frames per second you set.  A standard movie is shown at 24 or 30 frames per seconds. Once you know how long you want your time lapse to be, say 15 seconds, you can multiply that by 30 fps. For 15 seconds you know you will need to capture 450 frames.

Here’s the math. You can supplement your own numbers.

At a 2 second interval and with the goal of 450 frames, you need to snap images for [2 x 450 = 900] 900 seconds or [900 / 60 = 15] 15 minutes.

5. Retro:

Of course you can use an Instagram filter, but where’s the fun in that. You can also take high-quality, retro photos with DSLRs. And it’s simple. One of the simplest ways is to give your natural light photo a warm, golden glow. And you can do that by using what would normally be called the wrong white balance. Many DSLRs have a warm preset in their white balance settings. But you can also use a warm card to set your white balance. Take a picture of the warm card, and then select the image in your white balance menu.

Double exposure is another creative way to make an image look retro. Here’s a helpful and simple tutorial on creating stunning double exposures by combining silhouettes with unique inlays.

6. Pinhole:

Pinhole photography creates unique images with minimal work. All you need is a light-tight box with a tiny hole on the front, and something light-sensitive inside the back of the box. You will get strange and captivating pictures that engage your viewers. You can DIY your own pinhole box so that it can be fashioned and manipulated to create different moods.

 7. Light painting:

Think of that cool delay your sparkler makes in photographs: This is light painting. Now you just have to be able to replicate that affect. A cool way to practice light painting is by affixing LED lights to a hula-hoop.  This beautiful photo shoot shows the juxtaposition of modern light painting with a hula-hoop against an old, historic-looking background.

You will need a tripod and will likely use low shutter speeds between 2-4 seconds.  Dusk is actually the best time to try a shoot like this, as opposed to the pitch-black you get near midnight. Raise the ISO as your natural light fades. Try setting your white balance to daylight to capture the natural colors of the hoop.