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Whenever we take on a new challenge, such as learning about photography, we set out and try to absorb every piece of information available on the topic. The newness of the challenge carries with it a sense of excitement as we peel away layers of mystery and discover more on the topic than we knew existed. Then, eventually, we get to a comfortable level and stagnation settles in. Before we know it, we’re stuck in a rut or burnt out, and our passion fades.

Well then, how do we get back to a place of creative inspiration and keep our passions alive?

The answer lies in learning. After all, it was the initial spark of discovery that lit the fire and ignited this journey in the first place! Today, it’s easier than ever to find online resources to continue your education and re-inspire your creativity. One such resource, Udemy, offers affordable, in-depth courses on a wide range of topics. This article is in itself inspired by these educational materials.

Using courses found on Udemy, we’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to explore creativity in photography:

1. Embrace Negative Space

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Within each photograph, there’s a push and pull between positive and negative space. Commonly, photographers think in terms of positive space when deciding how to compose an image. The subject, whether it be a model, a tree, or even a building, typically represents the positive space, and it usually occupies the majority of the image. The background often becomes little more than a setting and rarely factors into the overall composition of the image.

But what happens when we intentionally use negative space to compose our image and draw focus to our subject? Rather than filling our frame with the subject, we can  isolate our subjects against the wider backdrop, which does not necessarily have to be empty.

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Each of the above images use negative space in a unique way, utilizing the sky, the ground, and layers to build space around the subject(s). When we embrace negative space and allow subjects to exist within the frame without having to compete against a cluster of distractions, new creative opportunities reveal themselves.

2. Color Creatively

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The way we use color in our imagery can significantly affect the visual impact of our photos. While the science of color is complex, a basic understanding of color theory can help us creatively manipulate color and influence the tone and style of the images we create.

Some photographers prefer to make distinctive color adjustments during post-production while others like to make it happen in-camera. Regardless of your preference, understanding the dynamics between colors across the color spectrum will allow you to take more creative control over this aspect of your images.

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To illustrate the effects of color, consider complementary colors. Complementary colors sit at the opposite ends of the color wheel and create a stark contrast when placed side-by-side; however, even though they are “opposites,” they work well together (see the red flowers and green grass above). This pleasant contrast can also be used to draw attention to a particular color or object when it occupies a small space within the frame (see the blue dress and sign frame against the warm-toned wall above).

Planning to use colors creatively can get complicated (finding a location, color coordinating the wardrobe, etc.), but taking the time to learn basic color theory will add another powerful layer to your images and help you stand out from other photographers. The reward is worthy of the challenge.

3. Let There Be… Less Light

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Usually, when we think about lighting our subjects, we think about properly exposing the scene to reveal our subject’s details. Occasionally, however, what we can’t see makes what’s visible more interesting. Such is the case when using a backlight to create a silhouette.

To create a silhouette in a dark setting, we can add an artificial light source like a flash or strobe to backlight the couple, or if the location is bright enough, we can dial down the exposure to expose for the ambient light. Typically, when we expose for bright ambient light, our subjects become underexposed, thereby creating a silhouette. Both lighting techniques will allow us to conceal the details of our subjects while separating them from the background.

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Silhouettes allow us to view subjects differently than we otherwise would. In the wedding image above, we see the couple more as a couple and less as individuals because the lighting technique focuses more on the bride and groom as a unit and less on the couple’s individual features, which have been underexposed and otherwise removed from the frame. This is a simple  and creative lighting technique that we can use to capture unique images that reveal something different than our eyes would normally see.

4. Elevate Your Perspective

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If you feel like you’re capturing your subjects from the same angles day in and day out, you might consider changing your perspective. One of the best ways of doing that involves taking to the air via a drone. Of all the things drones can or cannot do, one thing they do very well is help photographers elevate their perspective…literally.

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Once you’re sky bound, a world of possibilities will reveal itself below, and from that height, you should see everything fairly well. With this unique top-down angle, you’ll likely notice shapes and lines that you didn’t realize were all around you. As you explore your location and consider the possibilities, remember to use this perspective to tell a story with a clear subject and intentional composition, the same way you would if you were snapping photographs at ground level. Random aerial shots might look interesting at first, but after the novelty wears off, it’s the story that will keep viewers interested.

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Before flying a drone to capture amazing images, we highly recommend familiarizing yourself with your drone’s features as well as federal and local rules and regulations to avoid fines, accidents, and/or injuries.

5. Seek Inspiring Spaces

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You don’t have to travel the world to find interesting spaces. Chances are, somewhere close by, you can find a location that will inspire your creativity and enhance your images. The best part is, you can use location scouting as an excuse to get out and explore.

Here are four things to look for when seeking interesting spaces:

  • Intimate corners: Intimate corners are spaces in which the subject is immersed in his/her environment, such as walking through an alley or literally sitting in the corner of a room.
  • Monochromatic scenes: In a monochromatic scene, most (if not all) of the color tones are similar (see the couple standing in the lake above). The lack of diversity in colors may allow the viewer to focus more on the subject, which is one reason many photojournalistic images are produced in black and white.
  • Interesting textures: Textures add depth to an image and can exist within the environment or even be painted on or worn by the subject.
  • Wide expanses: Wide expanses, such as a plain in front of a mountain range, include more of the environment, giving the location more prominence in the story as it fills more of the frame.

Beyond the points above, consider things like mood and story. An incredible scene that might work for one session may not work at all for another.


Instead of investing in more gear or special effects devices, try to find creative inspiration through education. In the relatively short time it took to view only two photography courses on Udemy, we explored a variety of topics, including composition, color, lighting, perspective, and location, all of which can help inspire creativity for all levels of photographers. One can never know too much, and the high quality of affordable education makes now the best time ever to learn something new.