Probably the question I get the most teaching workshops is how to improve creativity. Sure, there are a lot of questions on new camera features and techniques. But these things are tangible to most photographers, and are easier to quantify and learn. But creativity…is there a step by step pathway to better creativity?
One thing is for sure. There are certain exercises you can do that will improve your creativity…you just have to commit to doing them. I’ve tried these exercises, they work…but I wasn’t initially happy about trying them out because I thought I was missing photographs. But that is the point! I was missing photographs…and becoming a better photographer because of it.
Here is one step to improve your creativity with photography. Put on a 35mm or 50mm, and no matter what, photograph everything with that lens all day. Here is an example. In Sicily we did many walks through scenic streets and towns, and I loved using my 24-200mm lens. I could literally cover every angle by just zooming in…now that is not bad. But one day I put on my 35mm 1.8 and shot it all day. Walking those vintage streets and alleys I felt like I was missing so many shots…I couldn’t zoom in! So I had to walk, get closer to my subject, look for new angles, explore new perspectives. And you know what? I didn’t get as many photos that day, but the ones I did get I like more than just zooming away using my other lens. I started seeing things differently. I loved the 1.8 bokeh I couldn’t get with my 24-200mm. I learned some new things about how to approach subjects, and started seeing the world a little different. And that was a step in improving my vision, and creativity.
Of course I still love shooting my 24-200mm, it is a great travel lens. But forcing myself to use a fixed length showed me new ways to approach subjects and perspectives. Give it a try. Break your old shooting habits. If you don’t try something new, your creative growth will be stunted. Get out and try something new with your camera today!