Great improvements come when people push themselves out of their comfort zone. Sportsmen are constantly pushing themselves to new levels of success, and the same can be achieved in the world of creative arts. If you continue to take the same type of photographs using the same techniques, you will never improve or develop new skills. When you step out of your comfort zone and experiment with new styles of photography the results will amaze you. The following assignments will take your photography to the next level.
1) Photograph a stranger.
Most photographers enjoy taking pictures of their friends and family, but photographing a stranger requires a very different approach. Asking to take someone’s photograph can be quite intimidating at first, but it’s very rewarding once you make the effort. Rather than shooting from a distance with a telephoto lens, approach the person and talk to him. Explain that you are a documentary photographer and would like to take some shots of him. If the person agrees, engage him in conversation and get him talking. As the person relaxes, shoot some pictures and try to capture his personality in a photograph. Frame and compose shots to include the person’s environment.
2) Shoot in all weather.
Rain, snow and cold weather are often seen as reasons to stay indoors and forget about photography. Many photographers wait for bright warm days, and believe that these produce the best results. Towns and cities take on a different atmosphere when the weather changes, and these are great conditions for taking pictures. People rushing along with umbrellas make great shots, and the creative photographer can find hundreds of other ways to illustrate the impact of the weather on people and the world around them. Snow can transform landscapes and cities, and offers fantastic opportunities for photographs. Always protect your camera in adverse weather, but get outdoors and look for these unique and interesting pictures.
3) Experiment with abstracts.
Abstract photography is a great way to develop new skills and produce original pictures. Rather than traditional shots like pictures of people, look for abstract images in the world around you. For example, take a picture of someone’s shadow. Textures and colors are strong elements of abstract photographs, and looking for them helps to develop visual awareness. Break the rules of composition and framing, and challenge yourself to isolate details of subjects to create abstract images.
4) Shoot at different times of day.
Getting up early to shoot a sunrise or going out after sunset for some night photography are great ways of seeing the world differently. With fewer people around, you can see a different side of towns and cities. Early morning light has a soft and warm tone, and this makes landscapes look completely different. Cities at night are a great place for photographers, and the bright lights are a subject in themselves. If you want to be really adventurous, try shooting the night sky to capture some star trails. A tripod is an essential piece of equipment for night and low-light photography, and the investment is well worthwhile.
5) Capture motion with long exposures.
Most photography involves freezing moments in time with fast shutter speeds. Any movement in a subject is often regarded as a mistake, but capturing motion is a fantastic exercise for the creative photographer. Panning your camera and releasing the shutter as you track a fast moving subject can produce some fantastic pictures. A child riding a bicycle is perfect for this type of shot. Using shutter speeds of one second or more is a great way to capture the motion of water. Long exposure shots can have a fluid appearance which is unique in photography.