Keep Your Game Up!

Shooting Inspiration when There is None

So, it’s time for summer break and all the kiddies are out of school for a few weeks, including me! During the school year, I’m constantly shooting. Assignments here, extra shoots there… There really is a lot of opportunity to shoot and keep shooting all day long!

But during these lulls when the kids are home from school and I don’t have a pressing need, beyond personal drive, to pursue photographic opportunities, I find myself stagnating. It’s so easy to just sit back and let the summer slide by without a care in the world. Still, I know that letting those weeks slide by without shooting allows my edge and opportunity to slip away as well! (Not to mention that camera unfamiliarity creeps back in when I’m not using it on a daily basis.)

So, how do we keep shooting with no definite direction in sight? What do we do when there’s no client requests or scholarly assignments to point us in a solid direction? Well, we just have to find out own way, of course!

Five Photo Ideas to Help You Break the Rut:

1. Look to the Season

Right now where I am, it’s summer: Hot, muggy summer. I don’t know about you, but there are a million things going on here that can only happen this time of year. Folks lounging and splashing in outdoor swimming pools. Children chasing fireflies. Fourth of July celebrations and Independence Day festivities abound… And let’s not forget all those summer vacations that offer enough travel photo opps to make your head spin!

Not summer where you are? What about taking a fall foliage scouting trip or a winter sledding adventure? Again, endless opportunities exist based on the season, you need but to put those creative lenses on and look around.

2. Speaking of Festivities…

In this part of the country, there is always some sort of festival going on. Two weeks ago, there was the Polish Heritage Festival at River Front Park. My smaller city has an art fair every third Friday where musicians, artists and street performers congregate and street vendors thrive. Just a few days ago, there was a rally at a local park

to promote bicycle safety with hundreds of small children running about with brightly colored bike helmets on their heads.

Read the local rag’s events section and you’ll end up with a variety of interesting events and festivals that will offer a cornucopia of photo opps you’d not have otherwise.

3. Keep it Still

I know every photographer has had that moment when they see something in their home and think,”That would make a really interesting photograph.” Then they push it to the back of their mind, thinking they’ll come back to it later. Well, now’s your chance to make it happen!

Grab a few interesting objects around your home and start experimenting. Try natural light through a window, then tungsten light from a bare bulb. Perhaps set your pieces up on the front steps. Change lenses, gels, gobos, light sources, reflectors, you name it. Make it a goal to do a whole set of images surrounding this one group of objects or even a single object.

I’ve personally done this using a single Baby Brownie Special, some off white balance and a variety of light sources and lenses, to create a pleasing group of images. I’ve also been known to take fruit or vegetables and simply spend an hour exploring them through lens and light with spectacular and surprising results.

4. Everybody Eats

Photographing food is a real art and something that takes a bit of practice, a bit of experimentation and a bit of good, old-fashioned, work!

Set aside an afternoon and make a delicious, 4-course meal and photograph it each step of the way. Or simply make an old fashioned PB&J with the crusts cut off and photograph the process. Ask your children or the neighbor kids over and have them help make ice cream the old fashioned way, with the hand-turned crank, in the back yard. Bake a cake or decorate cupcakes. Whatever you wish, but photograph the heck out of it.

Try to capture the color and feel of a piece of fruit or a boiled potato. Experiment with different lighting techniques to add a glisten to a berry or highlight the fluff in a whipped mouse. Try to show us those things in new and different ways.

5. Take a Hike

When I’m really feeling lost for subjects, I take a walk in one of my favorite areas: The old downtown square. Walking along it’s sidewalks, I feel the meshing of old and new with every step. Old shops that are either closed or have been there for 50 years meet new, hip clothing boutiques and trend shops. Even the people you meet seem as if placed there just to offer a juxtaposition between old and new. Street photography is at it’s best here and I try to use that to my advantage.

Or, I’ll head out to the country and take a walk on my grandparents farm. Along the creek bed, there are many, many interesting sites to see and photograph. Landscapes of rolling hills and long green grass are available and finding a new way to express these familiar sights is part of the fun here.

Perhaps you simply want to take a short jaunt around the block. A neighbor’s unique mailbox could make the perfect subject for your next image or maybe shooting that image you’ve seen in your head a million times of the house on the hill will spark new ideas for you to try.

Remember, there is always something happening for you to photograph. From setting up your own still life to shooting a heated political rally, each and every single day has a photo to take and a story for your lens to tell.

Good luck and keep shooting,

~H

All Photographs & Text ©Hollie A Miller & ©Clockwork Creation Machine

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