In photography composition is everything. Where you place the various elements and how they relate to each other creates a ‘wow’ image or relegates your photo to the mediocre. How to create a composition that will turn heads and make you proud is the holy grail of photography. Of course there are different strokes for different folks, but, it all boils down to the same thing, composition.
There are rules of composition which if implemented will help you create fantastic images. Don’t be limited by them but get to know them well and they will serve in your creative composition quest. Creativity can be a misnomer and not only mean fantastic images as you can also create bad compositions. The bottom line is getting to know these rules and letting them serve you and not vice versa. So how does one get more creative.
1. Establish your photo identity
Who you are will be reflected in your photography. Unless you know who you are and what makes you tick it’s going to be difficult for you to create images that have real meaning to you. Most of us operate out of what we are passionate about; causes, sports, hobbies, music, religion or people. Whatever you love will come out in your photography. If you are an avid trainspotter or birdwatcher there is a likelihood that you will want to take pictures of trains or birds. Once you have identified what you have a deep interest in or are passionate about, you will be able to lay a creative foundation and give your photography an identity.
2. Get to know and understand your subject
Now that you know what you photo identity is you can identify the subjects you wan to focus on within you passion or field of interest. Subject are key to your photography and unless you can clearly identify them you’ll stay unfocused and be hindered in your creativity. The subject is central to all photography so get to know your particular subject. Once you know more about it, every facet and angle you’ll be able to identify where to shoot from and a great viewpoint. When a great artist paints a still life or a portrait they study it from every angle until they find a viewpoint that displays it the best.
3. Think outside the box
This is vital to any creative person. Most people follow the crowd, do the same thing and take the easiest route. True creators are mavericks. They break the mould and do something different, go against the grain and break the rules. So when creating an image ask yourself the question, “has it been done like this before”? If it has then you’ll be the same as everyone else If it hasn’t then you are one step closer to something different or greater than anyone else. So how do I get to this point of virtual greatness? Simple, by doing point number 4.
4. Challenge yourself and push the limits
Greatness comes at a price. Time, effort and commitment. Point and shoot mentality will never give you the creative edge. Going the easy route has been done by everyone. Getting up every morning at 4am for a month gets that amazing sunrise that everyone else admires. By getting up at this time and frequency you catch that one morning when conditions were perfect. One of the challenges I set my students is the 100 shots challenge where they take any subject and shoot it in a different way 100 times. Shots number 10, 15, 25 or 49 might be simply and easy, but, when you are pushing the limits at 85 you start to challenge yourself in finding another one that is different. It’s when the challenge really gets difficult that you push your creative boundaries. Now you will start seeing the composition that goes beyond the regular and ordinary and you will come into your own as a creative photographer.
5. Practise and perfect your creativity
The carpenter, musician or painter who creates the masterpieces has spent years perfecting their art through practise, perseverance and persistence. Creativity is something that you learn and get good at. We all have it within us. No football star has been born brilliant and never needed to practise. Natural talent needs to be developed and practised to refine and perfect the art. When you are onto something new and creative, keep at it and explore alternatives as you may be a step away from something truly great. Practise, as they say, does make perfect.
To be more creative means that you need to create more photographs. Improving is achieved by doing and not just thinking. Implementing an idea and then perfecting it will get you moving beyond the rest of the crowd.