Here are 12 ideas to get your creative juices flowing and increase your skills and value as a photographer.
TIP 1 – Time Lapse photos. I showed my niece how to do this with clay figures and stitch the resulting frames together into a video file, and she was busy for days. If you control the exposure consistently to keep the images consistent with one another, you can do some really fun stop-motion animation. Or, you can set up your camera to capture other slow motion effects such as flowers opening and seedlings growing.
TIP 2 – Night Lights. Things look very different at night. Shooting city scenes with available light creates some interesting images. And shooting outdoor images under moonlight or with “light painting”, where you open up the camera shutter for an extended exposure, and “paint” your targets with colored or plain light, can create some truly bizarre images.
TIP 3 – Astrophotography. Hook that SLR up to a telescope, and you are ready to peer into the depths of space and time. You’ll need some adapters, and ability to compensate for the earth’s rotation for really long shots. Start with the moon and move on from there.
TIP 4 – Macro photography. From flowers to coins to stamps, you can polish your skills at close-up photography and capture some really detailed images. Often a macro lens or close-up attachment will help. See my tips on Flower Photography to get more information.
TIP 5 – Micro photography. If you can interface that camera with a microscope, you can get some really crazy images. Or, stack up a bunch of close-up magnification and try your hand at turning salt crystals into surreal imagery.
TIP 6 – Insurance Photos. OK, maybe a bit boring, but you and your friends and relatives will thank you. Take a couple hours and touch and photograph everything of value, with a full shot or two if each item of value, accompanied by a shot of the identifying marks – manufacturer model or serial number. Then burn a CD or DVD and store it off site. If you have a fire or other loss, this could save the owner thousands of dollars.
TIP 7 – Family Recipe book. Anytime those family favorites are prepared, copy down the recipe and take some photos of the food. You can produce a printed or electronic cookbook of family favorites that everyone will love.
TIP 8 – Stock Photography. This is a very busy market niche, but the cost of entry is low. Specialize in things you love, and you may be able to generate some income from your stock images. Search for stock photography sites, and make sure you understand your rights before you post images.
TIP 9 – Special Effects. Maybe you want to specialize in high-speed images of athletes, or surrealistic collages. Try your hand at using your editing skills to put someone in a soda bottle or floating on a candy lifesaver. Often more artistic than photographic, it will test your composition, lighting and editing skills to come up with believable artificial realities.
TIP 10 – Still Life. Ahh, the bowl of fruit. Sometimes a simple object or collection, properly lit, shot and edited, is a thing of beauty. It’s a great way to study light. Start with an egg on a light background, a lamp and a window and see how you can learn about lighting and composition.
TIP 11 – Computer Control. Many cameras have a USB interface and remote control software. You can actually control the camera from the computer. See if you can get it to work to your liking, and maybe even program some time lapse or exposure bracketing experiments.
TIP 12 – Be Like Andy. Take some images of everyday items and try to create those neat colored backgrounds like Andy Warhol used to make. Create a 4-up print of the same image and change the colors of each quadrant to make an interesting square print.
Have fun with these ideas, and let me know when you become famous!