In this guide, we’ll be discussing creative photography and techniques you can use to spark some creative ideas!
Table of Contents
What is Creative Photography?
Creative photography is a photo that is intentionally made more unique, thus making it creative.
Let’s call it a somewhat unique category in photography. This category includes photos and edits that are specifically made to give a certain mood, focus on a certain theme, or anything to be honest.
It involves adopting a new, different approach toward a photo, without which it would be seen as a common picture.
Adding extra elements to a picture to highlight certain textures and features has become a common practice in the industry, although the amount and the post-processing will often separate creative photography from common photography.
The key is out-of-the-box thinking and creativity, which is easier said than done.
Ask yourself, “what can I do differently in this session?”
Many ideas will then pop up. Execute each of them, and maximize the potential of each photo that you take.
Start off by carrying your camera everywhere to seek out some pictures and ideas that randomly cross your mind!
Maybe you see a beautiful sunset, and what’s better than a sunset? Two sunsets! Pour some water onto a surface and try to photograph its reflection in the water.
You could also go the extra mile to re-photograph it after adding some strokes or smudges using paint or any other medium, to highlight the main focus even more (or cheat and use Photoshop)!
If paintings aren’t your forte, then feel free to rescan them after adding objects to them as long as it fits the theme and your goal.
How Would You Define Creative Photography?
The tricky part of it is the ‘creative’ aspect. With how ‘abstract’ the word creative can be, combined with how different people’s standards are for each creative artwork, it is difficult to please everyone.
Some see bokeh or fictional captures as creative, some ask for a deeper meaning, and some just don’t need that much “abstractness”.
In the vast world of photography and creativity, it may be hard to fit everyone’s criteria. But certain techniques have been so popular that they have become the specific photographer’s trademark.
If a picture has intentionally been treated in a way that gives it a deeper meaning, then it can be categorized as a creative photograph!
Creative Photography Ideas
The term itself may be a bit confusing for new or even experienced members of the photography community.
Some people have many ideas for creative photography but are afraid to execute them because they think creative photos must be super extravagant and abstract.
This isn’t always true, and in order to give you a rough idea of what creative photography looks like and how it’s done, we have put together a few techniques, ideas, and some creative photography examples.
A popular example is “bokeh”, which looks like small glowing orbs.
We have a full guide on bokeh, so be sure to check that out!
These orbs appear when your camera lens tries to record unfocused points of light.
It is typically unwanted and appears unintentionally in the background when taking photos.
Try and figure out different points of view, depth of field, and settings that can create bokeh in a beneficial way!
Other creative photography examples that we love involve painting!
After printing the photo(post-production), incorporate paint or any desirable medium by smearing, dipping, redrawing, and the list goes on.
3. Double Exposure
Another cool technique is to project images onto textured surfaces and re-photograph them. This is called double exposure.
These techniques give a normal, mundane, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary picture some extra meaning!
You could take a picture of a nearby tower and project it onto a water ripple or any textured surfaces that you deem fit, and voila! A unique and creative photograph is born!
4. Motion Blur
Motion blur is another popular technique that brings life to a photo.
This can be achieved by either photographing moving objects with a longer exposure or by moving the camera to follow a moving object.
5. Get Macro
There are many more creative photography examples out there.
Find a photograph that you like, use it as a source of inspiration, and give it a unique twist.
Push the boundaries and find what works best for you!
Also, if you need help creating a creative effect, you can use special lenses to create creative camera effects.
Creative Photography Examples
Here are some famous examples of images that were also very creative.
1. “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange (1936)
This photograph depicts a mother and her children during the Great Depression.
Lange’s empathetic approach and composition captured the hardships faced by many Americans during that time.
2. “The Steerage” by Alfred Stieglitz (1907)
Stieglitz’s photograph of passengers on a ship is known for its innovative composition and use of geometric shapes, reflecting the changing artistic trends of the early 20th century.
3. “Dali Atomicus” by Philippe Halsman (1948)
This surreal photograph features the artist Salvador Dali, cats, water, and furniture suspended mid-air, showcasing Halsman’s creativity and collaboration with Dali.
4. “Afghan Girl” by Steve McCurry (1984)
McCurry’s powerful portrait of a young Afghan refugee with piercing green eyes became an iconic image, symbolizing the resilience and strength of people facing adversity.
5. “Tank Man” by Jeff Widener (1989)
This image captures an unidentified Chinese man standing in front of a line of tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests, symbolizing courage and resistance.
6. “The Falling Soldier” by Robert Capa (1936)
This photograph of a Spanish soldier at the moment of his death during the Spanish Civil War remains a controversial and powerful image in the history of war photography.
7. “Bliss” by Charles O’Rear (1996)
This photograph was used as the default desktop background for Windows XP, making it one of the most widely seen and recognized images in the world.
8. “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” by Charles C. Ebbets (1932)
This iconic photograph shows construction workers casually having lunch on a steel beam high above New York City during the construction of Rockefeller Center.
What is a Creative Photograph?
A creative photograph would be a photograph that intentionally uses various techniques and effects to reach the desired result.
At the core of it, it is about conscious attempts to manipulate and take photos, where your imagination becomes the limit.
Many photographers have different takes on what a creative photograph is, but after skimming through them and drawing connections between them, we’ve concluded that a creative photograph is a photo given a twist to invoke certain meanings.
The Importance of Creativity in Photography
Creativity is an integral part of photography.
With the rise of social media and the mundane images that often circulate on those platforms, there seems to be less space for creative photography to thrive.
All of these creative photography ideas offer something new, refreshing, and more noticeable.
When it comes to photography, being creative is beneficial in many ways.
It gives you a huge advantage over more mundane photographers.
The reason behind this lies in the uniqueness, which can make your photographs more eye-catching when people are skimming over photos.
This uniqueness shows the audience your capability in expressing yourself.
Creativity allows you to slap all the emotions you want onto a picture.
Indirectly, your photograph will be able to inspire many more people and possibly start a new trend!
Do you remember when someone made a surreal edit that turned the ocean into the sky? That became a trend and many adapted the concept and did some new takes on it.
If you want to learn even more, check out these creative exercises for photographers:
Creative photography is an interesting and simple, yet unique category of photography.
Many people can enter the scene yet not every artwork will become a trend. By intentionally doing something new and unique to a normal photo, it can turn into a creative photograph.
People do have different standards about how a creative photograph should look, which makes it a bit hard to please everyone in the photography community.
But, in this category, your imagination is the limit! And although it might sound cringe-worthy, some people rely on their hearts and their emotions to guide them in making a creative photo.
So, think ahead and make your photos shine!
What’s the importance of creativity in photography?
Creativity is crucial in photography as it allows photographers to showcase their unique vision and perspective, resulting in images that are more compelling, memorable, and emotionally resonant. By tapping into their creativity, photographers can elevate their craft beyond simple documentation and create images that express their individuality and artistic voice.
Does every photograph have to be creative?
Not every photograph needs to be creative or highly artistic. In some cases, the primary goal of a photograph may be to accurately document a moment or convey information, such as in photojournalism, scientific photography, or product photography.
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer servicing the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. He specializes in portraits of individuals, couples, groups and headshots. Nate Torres is also a photography writer and content creator and educates other photographers on portrait photography, composition, editing, gear, and business. You can find his content on his personal website, social media, and YouTube Channel, as well as on blogs such as Fstoppers, Photofocus, and Imaginated. Being a former SEO consultant, Nate also teaches other photographers how to use SEO to grow their own photography business on his educational blog, Shutter SEO.