Sunday, February 26, 2006

An Exercise in Creativity

Say What?!

Exercise: Put on your know-it-all face and critique other people's photos. (i.e. Flickr comments)

Examples: Don't just tell someone "I like it," or "Cool pic!" Go a step further and ask yourself "WHY?" then tell them why you do or don't like it. Kacey has done a great job with this.

Reason: Not only are you helping someone else by pointing out what works and what doesn't work in their photos, but it also forces you to put more thought into it. Perhaps you will find yourself making similar comments over and over until you discover that you gravitate toward a certain style. By helping others, you'll also be helping yourself. Before long, you will find yourself assuming the role of the student and the teacher.


A New View on Familiarity

Exercise: Take a full roll of pictures (that's 24 for us digital types) from within your bedroom.

Examples: Here are three pictures to give you an idea. Also, Stuart took some great photos in a hotel room last week.

Reason: Too often we think that in order to get an exciting picture we need an exciting subject. The idea behind this exercise is to help you see creative shots in a place most familiar to you. Chances are, you haven't considered your bedroom (or your kitchen, for that matter) as an exciting place to take pictures. After all, you see it every day, and there's a pretty good chance you're bored with your surroundings. Well pull out your camera and find some fascinating shots within your four walls. Ever tried photographing a stapler? How 'bout an action figure? The books on your night stand have a story to tell. Can you capture it??


Worth A Thousand Pictures

Exercise: Give your pictures a name, not merely a description.

Examples: My sister has a black and white picture of an old wooden bench in the middle of a garden. She could easily have named it something like "Bench in garden," but instead she titled it "Memories of Grandpa." Suddenly the picture evokes a whole new meaning and a bucketfull of emotions.

Reason: Not only can a good name take a picture from mundane to one that grabs your attention, but it forces you to think of photography as a medium for storytelling --or "storyshowing" as I've heard it named. It can be daunting to think of naming all your pictures, but perhaps that thought is enough to help you exert more thought before releasing the shutter. Still, some pictures are better without a name, opening them to broader interpretation. As is the case with every one of the exercises listed here, the moral of the story is simply to put more thought into what you do. Your work will show a marked difference!


A Fresh Perspective

Exercise: Just look around your everyday surroundings.'s that simple

Examples: When you're walking to work or to the metro or the convenient store what do you notice along the way? Do you always notice the same things? Instead of looking at the floor, check out the ceiling. Don't bother reading the same sign that says "Restrooms" --trust me, it hasn't changed since you last read it. Just because you don't have a camera in your hand doesn't mean you can't look for interesting viewpoints.

Reason: It's easy to get stuck in a rut, although too often in the business world we call it a "schedule." When we start doing everything from memory the excitement fades and the opportunity to learn passes by. It's not complicated. It doesn't take time. All it takes is a willingness to be surprised.


Intentional Observation

Exercise: Observe composition in visual media and try to identify what rules they follow, if any.

Examples: Spend a minute examining advertisements on the metro, camera angles in a movie, composition on television. Break it down into elements arranged on a screen or page. Ask yourself, "Does the composition alone make it clear the message they are trying to convey?" Could it be stronger if they arranged it differently? Soon you will find that just because something is done "professionally" doesn't mean it can't be improved upon. If it were up to you, how would you do it, and why?

Reason: There is so much to be learned by simple observation. By looking at other individual's work, it forces you to consider why you do or don't like it. It reinforces your knowledge, and ultimately sharpens your own abilities.


No Right Turn

Exercise: Use your "bad hand" for simple tasks.

Examples: Unlocking a door; brushing your teeth; using a fork, tying your shoes, holding a glass, using a tv remote, dialing a cell phone, or if you're really in the mood for a good time try plunging a toilet.

Reason: There is a marked difference between the right and left hemispheres of your brain. The left side controls facts, data, words, and logic. The right side is non verbal and thinks in terms of pictures, colors, sounds --creativity, in general. Additionally, the right side of your body is controlled by the left hemisphere of your brain, and the left side of your body is controlled by the right hemisphere. By using your left hand, you are excercising the right side of your brain --the creative side-- and strengthening the connection between the two hemispheres. The more you develop this, the more you will be able to see the world in a creative light. Capturing that with a camera eventually becomes an extension of how you view the world, and your pictures will reflect that creative perspective.


Post a Comment

<< Home