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Tips & Tricks

10 Creative Photography Ideas & Techniques to Try

By Christopher Lin on November 1st 2016

The demand to churn out consistently profound imagery can be both exhausting and arduous, but we can’t complain too much considering we are fortunate to have careers that gives us limitless creative freedom. For those moments that you find yourself in an artistic rut, we’ve compiled a list of creative photography ideas that are sure to impress & provide you with a spark of ingenuity.

Upgrade to Premium now to see how we achieved these creative effects in our educational workshops.

Creative Photography Idea #1: Pano Stitching (AKA Brenizer Method)

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Panoramic images have such a dynamism about them – they hold the ability to capture an expansive space and compress it into a single image. Create high resolution environmental portraits via the Brenizer Method that showcase your subjects and their surroundings. Wide aperture panoramic stitching works best with lenses that give you a shallow depth of field and greater compression. Watch our full course on conceptualizing & executing the Brenizer method here.

Creative Photography Idea #2: Spray Bottle

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A Spray Bottle is a simple tool that you would never think to use for photography, mostly because we stay clear of all water whenever given the chance. Spray some water on your lens and you can turn a boring “she’s-all-that” image into “homecoming queen”. You can see it used in action in this behind the scenes clip from our Unscripted series.

Directions:

  • Spray water on desired part of the lens
  • Control the size of the foreground bokeh by adjusting your aperture (wider aperture = bigger bokeh)
  • Make sure there’s no dirt on your lens, because you can scratch your lens while wiping the water off

[REWIND: 5 EVERYDAY ITEMS FOR CREATIVE PHOTO EFFECTS]

Creative Photography Idea #3: Mixed Lighting

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Although most shooters tend to stay clear of mixing lighting to avoid discolored skintones, the effect can actually increase the quality of your image when done correctly. The trick is to separate the light sources so the temperatures don’t mix, and there is a way to balance the light within Lightroom which we explain in our Advanced LR Processing tutorial via split toning and temperature tuning.

Creative Photography Idea #4: Long Exposures

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A skyfull of stars as a backdrop is bound to leave your clients impressed and is quite possibly one of easier tricks as it requires no gimmick, just a little extra time in post production. These shots can either be composited with a starry night sky or if you choose to do a single shot long exposure, you can use Rear Curtain Sync on your off-camera flash. For OCF basics check out Lighting 101 to grasp the foundation of flash.

Creative Photography Idea #5: Free Lensing

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This technique requires some DIY-ing but it creates a look that brides are sure to love. Free lensing is a technique that uses broken lens to let light bleed through the edges of the frame, creating different flares and color. We’ve used a broken Canon 50mm f/1.8 for the shot above, holding it off the camera body allowing light to flare through. Aperture doesn’t play a role in the photo considering the lens has been stopped down to a specific number prior to usage and it’s disconnected from the camera body. This gives images a slight tilt-shift effect without the cost of a tilt-shift lens. See how we post-produce these images here.

Creative Photography Idea #6: Tilt Shift

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A tilt-shift lens is meant to throw the focus plane off, helping you focus on multiple subjects to create interest or correct perspective. At first, it is difficult to navigate the functionality of a tilt-shift lens, but like any other technique it’s a matter of trial and error. Understanding how the focus plane works is the main hurdle to cross because it is such a non-traditional perspective. The image above was created using a Canon 90mm f/2.8 Tilt Shift lens. Watch this tutorial to see how we combine tilt-shift effects with the Brenizer method.

[REWIND: CREATING ARTISTIC PORTRAITS USING A TILT-SHIFT LENS]

Creative Photography Idea #7: Shoot Throughs

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Here is a technique that requires you to think outside the box no matter what location you are in. Shooting through objects can yield you with a variety of unique compositions, flares, and perspectives. We have a full special effects course outlining the various accessories that can be used to create dramatic and uncommon light flares, or even to re-create golden hour.

To see some of these gadgets in action in this Facebook live demonstration:

Creative Photography Idea #8: Atmospheric Aerosol/Fog

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A little bit of fog in some places can add a lot of depth and texture to a scene. Fog machines would be the ultimate tool for a trick like this, however, they are often too cumbersome to carry around on shoots, and they do cost a pretty penny. Here’s where Atmosphere Aerosol comes to the rescue: these cans of fog are extremely affordable and allow you to spray the areas you want the fog

*SLRL Premium members receive a discount on Atmosphere Aerosol! Upgrade now! 

Directions:

  • Fill the scene with the desired amount of fog
  • Using a reflector (or any thin, broad object), waft the fog around to control the spread

Creative Photography Idea #9: Whip Pan

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Having a lens with built in IS (image stabilization) will create a straighter line going across the image. Watch the full tutorial of the whip pan technique here.

Directions:

  • Slow shutter speed to 0.5-1 seconds
  • Loosen tripod head
  • Press shutter button then quickly pan in one direction
  • Use rear curtain sync to freeze subject

[REWIND: 6 ARTISTIC PHOTO EFFECTS USING TRIPODS]

Creative Photography Idea #10: Reflections

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A prism can be used to add unique reflections, change your composition, or even add a flare. The best part is that it’s portable, and you can bring it to any shoot. See how we created the image above in this behind-the-scenes video!

Directions:

  • Bring the Prism up to your lens, twist and turn until you find your desired composition
  • Keep note of which photos you like and how you held the Prism, so you can easily re-create the look later

CREDITS: All images were provided by Lin and Jirsa Photography and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge or Lin and Jirsa.

Terms: #Whip Pan

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

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