How to boost your creative vision

How to boost your creative vision?

Why is it that we as photographers always talk about the camera or lens that we want (that will apparently help us be more “creative”) rather than using the cameras and lenses we already own to create art?

It is a common misconception that the more lenses we have, the newer our camera, the more software and the faster computers we own, the less constraints we will have in our photography and the more our creativity will flourish.

That is of course completely untrue. Constraints not only aid your creative vision, but they are essential to it. 

How to boost your creative vision

Stockholm, Sweden // Fuji X100S

I was always a firm believer that in order to be creative you need to go out of your comfort zone as much as possible.

But how will these “creative constraints” help my creative vision?

Let me explain. Take for example the smartphones nowadays – they have cameras and can be used quite successfully for creating beautiful images. But they have lots of limitations, you might say – low iso capability, you can’t print the images big and they aren’t as fast as a “real camera.”

And you are right, but these limitations can actually help your creativity – if your smart phone has poor image quality, then it forces you to only shoot in good light and this on the other hand will force you to search for the good light and learn how to recognise it. If your smart phone has a slow autofocus, you will learn how to prefocus your subjects and anticipate their movements.

The great example of creative constraints in photography are prime lenses. By limiting your field of view, you will be forced to compose your image in an interesting and novel way. Instead of staying in one place and just zooming with your lens you will have to move closer or further away from you subject / scene. That might help you to compose your picture differently.

Another example – shooting only in black and white in camera. Stripping your images from the colour will help you to focus more on your subject and the way you compose your photos. And if take pictures in RAW format, you will be able to convert them back in colour when you edit them! Same applies to only shooting in colour, it forces you to try to make images that have good colour combinations.

How to boost your creative vision in practice? 

How to boost your creative vision

Biarritz, France // Canon 5D Mark 3 and Canon 45mm F2.8 Tilt Shift lens

A simple way to boost your creativity is following this simple photography exercise:

  • Pick a focal length and stick with it. Not one lens, but one focal length. For example 35mm or 50mm or 85mm. Now go out and shoot. Don’t have a prime lens? Just put your zoom lens at the chosen focal length and don’t zoom it anymore (you can even tape it with some tape, so it stays in place).
  • Pick a theme and shoot it. It can be a specific colour, shape or landscapes, people, etc…The point is not the theme itself, but the creative constraint it forces upon you, helping you to find new ways to see the world around you.
  • Spend some time shooting anything but the Rule of Thirds.
  • Try to stay in one spot and shoot 10 different images by changing your angle, focal length, direction, etc…
  • Use a very small memory card in your camera. Being limited in the amount of photos you can take will help you being more critical towards your own work.

If you are interested in following one of my workshops, please take a look here: Photography Workshops in Brussels