Finding fresh ways to approach your photography practice is important for producing interesting work.
Evolution is essential for every type of artistic discipline, and photography is no exception. Especially when you consider the vast freedom that a camera can provide.
Using art as inspiration for your photography can be a fun way to tap into other parts of your creativity and discover new ways of looking through your lens.
Different art genres, themes, tools, objects, seasons, and more can all serve as refreshing sources of inspiration. They can help to bring new depth to your practice and expose you and your audience to a new world of creativity.
In this article, we’ll look at the important relationship that fine art and photography share. Plus, we’ve come up with some creative ideas for you to experiment with on your next shoot.
The Importance Of Experimenting In Photography In A Modern Age
All creative disciplines call for creative experimentation to facilitate growth. Photography is such a wide-reaching discipline, made even more vast by the sheer number of tools and devices you can use to influence color, light, shadow, texture, and composition.
Discovering your identity and vision as an artistic photographer can take a lifetime—and if it does, that’s perfectly fine. But if you’d like to expedite the process, experimentation and exploration are your new best friends.
Pushing yourself outside of your natural comfort zone is one of the best ways to uncover who you really are as an artist and, perhaps more importantly, what it is you want to say with your work.
In the crazy world of today, photography has become far more accessible to the everyday consumer than the world ever thought was possible before. The result is an extreme oversaturation of digital imagery, making it harder than ever to produce truly distinctive and memorable work.
But don’t despair.
There are pros to oversaturation, too. It’s also easier than ever to get your work out there for the world to see, and the tools you need to produce that work are becoming increasingly affordable.
This makes the process of establishing yourself as an artistic photographer far more achievable than it would have been 20 or 30 years ago. What most photographers—and perhaps, most artists in general—need most today is the courage to trust their creative instincts and take bold creative leaps.
However, as any seasoned photographer knows, creativity is no tap that can be turned on and off at will. But that’s why platforms like this exist. To share ideas through a mutual desire for creative innovation.
7 Creative Sources Of Inspiration For Your Next Fine Art Photography Shoot
If you’re feeling stuck in a creative rut, it can be hard to dust off your cameras and gather the energy to shoot something new. But just like physical exercise, it’s the kind of practice that you’ll pretty much never regret. And the more you do it, the easier it’ll be in the future.
It’s completely normal to feel out of creative ideas for your photography practice every now and then. You’re only human, after all. You can use this time to lay low and corral different ideas and inspirations for conceptualizing your next shoot.
Here are a few ideas that you can use as inspiration for upcoming shoots, whether they’re purely personal and experiential or for a professional purpose. Have fun!
Reflective surfaces have long been a source of inspiration for artists. Mirrors, in particular, have made regular appearances in fine art photography over the past few years, and it’s easy to understand why.
Reflections are interesting both visually and conceptually. They offer insight into multiple different worlds and perspectives at once. They also provide the opportunity to refract light in unusual ways. Hand mirrors, clear streams or rivers, and large windows all make interesting additions to artistic photography.
2. DIY camera filters
Sometimes, the best ideas are sitting right under your nose. Getting creative with some DIY camera filters is one of the simplest, easiest, and most fun ways to spice up your regular photography. The best part is that most of these “filters” you can probably find lying around in your house.
- Sandwich bag – This thin, slightly reflective piece of plastic can add a hazy, ethereal effect to your photos. It works well for nostalgic and whimsical shots. Just open up an unused sandwich bag and slip the clear part over your lens.
- Vaseline – If you want a simple soft-focus effect, some Vaseline can do the trick. Spread a thin layer on your lens and snap away. Just make sure you clean it thoroughly afterward.
- Cellophane – Colored cellophane is widely available and easy to slip onto a lens with a rubber band. The result is a subtle but impactful shimmer effect that can be adjusted with more texture if you scrunch it up beforehand.
If you’re a professional photographer, playing around with DIY filters might feel a little silly. But getting in touch with that playful side and just seeing what comes out of it can be a great exercise in thinking outside of the box and discovering new techniques. You might be surprised by what you find.
3. Creative lighting
As a photographer, you’re likely already familiar with the traditional lighting set-up. Strobes, flashguns, umbrellas, etc., are all incredibly useful tools for producing great photos. But that doesn’t mean you have to rely on them alone.
There are plenty of ways to modify your lighting set-up in order to produce more interesting, creative scenes. For instance, similar to the cellophane-lens filter from the above tip, casting some colored cellophane over your main light source can create immersive mood lighting that transforms the atmosphere of your work.
You can also experiment with less popular but equally evocative light sources like a fireplace or candlelight. Flames can create gorgeous, warm hues that studio lights simply can’t recreate.
4. Still life exploration
Hear us out! Still life may not be a very popular subject matter for contemporary photographic artists, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth experimenting with. In fact, it might be exactly what you need to recenter your skills and refresh your understanding of who you are as an artist.
Still life, by definition, is an image comprised of one or more inanimate objects, often staged in a very intentional fashion. This kind of image is so incredibly simple that it allows you to take it and run in pretty much any direction you like.
Food, tools, ceramics, plants, books, pillows, or even technology—we’re constantly surrounded by the objects that make up the details of our daily lives. Why not make them a subject for your shoot? You may even want to create a new portfolio for your food photographs or set up a separate Instagram account for your catalog of plant photos so that you can explore the niche you choose in-depth and review your progress easily.
5. Turn to monotones
When you’re stuck in a rut and unsure which direction to go, return to the basics. Color is a foundational element of fine art photography, and stripping it down to just one can produce interesting visual results.
As a fun creative exercise, consider choosing one color, or one very limited section of the color wheel, to focus on as your primary design inspiration. You’ll likely find yourself being drawn into the color and seeing it in ways you never did before, opening up new avenues for visual interpretation.Arts and Photography Books
6. Free the lens
Freelensing is a creative photography technique in which a photographer holds their lens off-camera and shoots right through it. To make the aperture work, most photographers elect to buy broken lenses off eBay, which can further intensify the textured, cracked effect this technique creates.
This effect occurs because the “free” lens allows more light to filter into the camera, softening its focus and inviting washouts to join the party.
7. Creativity is a state of mind
If you take one thing away from these suggestions, take this.
Creativity is a state of mind, not a prize you can win.
It’s a living, breathing, and rather tempestuous tool that you can either work with or against when conceptualizing new photo project ideas.
Even if the above ideas don’t speak to you personally on an artistic level, there’s nothing stopping you from jotting down a few of your own and taking them in your own direction. Never stop trying new things!
Create Art Through Your Lens
They say an artist’s work is never complete.
Whether you are a photographer, painter, sculptor, or any other creative professional, the urge to continuously strive for improvement is almost always there.
This is the blessing and the curse of being an artist—there’s always more to explore!
But with the right attitude, you can perceive the open-endedness of artistic potential with excitement and curiosity rather than fear. Even though trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone can be scary at times, it’s almost always worth the effort.
These art-inspired photography ideas can be interpreted in any way you desire. You can view them as creative mini-concepts to draw from and express in your own unique way.
Photography isn’t always easy. However, once you get into a routine of trying new things and experimenting on a regular basis, discovering your original brand of work and its signature atmosphere will come naturally.