Need Some Photography Ideas?
All photographers experience periods when they're feeling a little uninspired. In this article I attempt to provide ideas for photography that will hopefully inspire and motivate 'idle' photographers to just get out there and start clicking away again.
Check back regularly as I will keep adding ideas to the list as they come to me but in the meantime you might want to also check out some of the other photography articles I've written, I have included links to those at the end of this article.
Also, feel free to leave any suggestions or comments in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Many of the photos on this page were taken by me and those that weren't were obtained legally from free stock photo websites.
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Do you find it hard to come up with subjects or ideas for photography?
For a different take on landscape photography, try creating a deconstructed landscape collage. All you have to do is take various shots of a landscape then create a collage with them using photo editing software.
Deconstructed Alpine Landscape
When out and about shooting, look for interesting patterns on objects or look for objects that create a pattern in some sort of way. Photos of patterns make great backgrounds and computer wallpapers.
Photographing Abandoned Buildings
Old abandoned buildings have a lot of charm about them even in their run-down state. Photographing them can be a fun and even a little addictive. Just be sure not to trespass or to get the owner's or the authorities' permission before laying foot on a property to photograph it.
Photographing Abandoned Buildings
Take photos that have a patriotic theme to them. This could include photos of national monuments, national events, people celebrating national holidays, indigenous flora and fauna, indigenous people, national dishes, national costumes, national flags, historical places and monuments, fellow countrymen and country women participating in international events, etc...
The Australian Flag
Photographing Body parts
This is simple, pick a body part and take photos of it.
You could either photograph the same body part on different people or you could use one model and photograph the same body part from different angles, in different levels of light, low-key, high-key, monochrome etc. Eyes are always interesting, I love looking at the patterns in people's irises. Hands and feet can be fun to because they can be posed in lots of interesting ways. If you have a partner who's willing you could try a bit of 'adult' body parts photography.
Photographing Body Parts
Reflections on bodies of water can make for quite stunning photographs. Reflections work best on dark waters such as ponds, rivers or lakes. The clearer the water is the less visible a reflection will be. For best results, do this on a day when there is no wind so that the water is still.
Photography Idea - Documenting the seasons
A wonderful way to record the passing of the seasons is to photograph your garden or landmarks in your community throughout the year at the height of every season and then creating a photographic montage of the different seasons.
Photograph Something Ugly
Sometimes there is beauty to be found in ugly things, I found this out when I photographed a fly in macro mode many years ago. Unfortunately I don't have that photo anymore, but I was surprised to see a multitude of colours reflected off the fly's body.
Of course you don't have to limit yourself to a fly, because there are plenty of seemingly ugly other things you can photograph that might give you some pleasant and unexpected results - think of an oil slick on a wet road, a pile of rubbish swamped by birds at your local waste disposal depot, the decomposing body of a dead animal photographed at night with a 'light painting' technique, some mouldy food (mould can look quite pretty when seen enlarged on a PC screen), an angry, aggressive person (cameras are great for capturing facial expressions and freezing them, just make sure they don't know you're taking their photo or you could become the target of their anger).
The possibilities are only limited by what you consider to be ugly.
In any community there are opportunities for sports photography be it a local sports team in action, a surfer, skiier, a diver at a swimming pool, a martial arts class, a group of bike riders or some teenagers at the local skateboard ramp, a boat race, the list goes on and on. Just remember to set your camera to a fast shutter speed to freeze the action or select a slower shutter speed to created blur that will give the illusion of speed and movement.
Panning involves capturing a fast moving subject so that the subject is in focus and the background is blurry to create the illusion of movement. It's done by using a slower shutter speed and following your moving target. You would normally be shooting in 'continuous shooting' mode and 'continuous focus' mode.
Panning can be tricky but so rewarding when you get a great shot. I was lucky enough to have an ambulance go past and managed to get it in pretty sharp focus. It was moving fast and this shot shows it. Below is a link to a youtube video tutorial on panning.
Panning Photography Video Tutorial - How to Capture Motion Shooting Moving Subjects
For this one, just pick one subject matter for each letter of the alphabet and take photos of it, do this with every letter until you've exhausted the alphabet. For example A for Apple, B for Boat, C for Cat, etc... just pick subjects of your own and make a photo alphabet with them.
Alternatively you could try to take photos of objects and shapes that look like the letters of the alphabet as in the video below.
If you think pet photography isn't enough of a challenge for you, think again because anyone who's ever tried to take a photo of a pet where the eyes are in sharp focus will tell you otherwise... and the eyes DO need to be in sharp focus. This can only be achieved when your subject is willing to keep still and with its head turned so its eyes are visible. My cat seems to take great delight in turning her head away whenever she sees me pointing my camera at her and my hyperactive dog just won't sit still long enough for me to get many shots in. So if you have a pet or know someone who does and you're up for a challenge, then pet photography is definitely something you should try.
This is for anyone who really wants to get out of their photography comfort zone. Taking photos of strangers can be quite daunting, especially when they question why you're doing it. Of course it's perfectly legal in most countries to take photos of people in public places but many will try to tell you otherwise.
If anyone confronts you about why you're taking their photo, just tell them that you're practicing your photography skills, tell them that if it bothers them you'll stop. Of course the best thing to do is to always politely ask people first if you can take their photo. If they decline move on to someone else. When carrying expensive photography gear it's always best to avoid getting into a situation where conflict may arise.
An alternative is to shoot blind, ie. just point your camera at your subject without raising the camera to your eyes. The best way to do this is to sit down and hold the camera on your lap as you fire off a few shots. The results may not be perfect but the shots will be very candid and you'll be able to take photos in a discreet way without bothering anyone.
Video Tutorial - Photographing Strangers
Black and White Photograpy
Monochrome photos have a timeless and classic look about them and if you're going for a feeling of drama or mystery in your photos then you should definitely consider shooting in black and white or desaturating color photos with the use of photo editing software such as Photoshop or the great free alternative, Gimp, available from gimp.org.
Some subject matters that are particularly suited to black and white photography are: weddings, close-up portraits of people, street photography, coastal scenery, churches, cemeteries and funerals.
Low-key photography also looks best when done in black and white (I explain what low-key photography is further down this page).
Black and White Photography
Cemeteries are a fascinating photography subject that offer many different opportunities for photography. Take photos during the day and at night. Take photos of a committal during a funeral (very discreetly of course). Take close up shots and wide-angle shots. Take colour shots and monochrome shots. Take photos of people visiting the graves of their loved ones. Take photos of graves from ground level for an interesting perspective.
Examples of Cemetery Photography
If you know someone who is expecting why not ask them if they would like some maternity portraits. Be sure to include their partner and any children and pets they have in at least some of the photos.
Video tutorial - Maternity Photography
Stop Motion Collage
Stop motion photography is a lot fun especially if you have kids. This can be a great way to introduce them to the wonders of photography. You can either use the shots you take to make a stop motion movie or you can stitch some of them together in one image with the use of layers in your editing software of choice to make a sort of collage.
Stop Motion Collage
Time Lapse Photography
Time lapse photography is a great way to document the change in an object, place or person over time. Take different photos of your subject to show different stages of its growth, change or development then stitch them together with some editing software using the cut and paste tool and layers.
Time Lapse Photography
Churches and Temples
Churches and temples are fascinating, challenging and yet beautiful photography subjects. There is so much detail to be captured in and around them from different angles that you could spend a whole day taking photos of one and still come away feeling like you haven't done it justice by capturing all of its grandeur.
Try day and night shots for a complete experience and be sure to capture the minute details that are often overlooked.
Because of the low ambient light inside churches, you might need a lens with a wide aperture or alternatively bring a tripod so you can take longer shake-free exposures.
Churches and Temples
Video Tutorial - Photographing Churches - A Must-watch!
Pick a Theme and Roll with it
Photographing a theme is a great way to get yourself to think outside of the square because there's only so many ways to photograph something without it becoming repetitive.
Some themes you might want to explore are: death, growth, love, anger, hate, friendship, homelessness, poverty, wealth, greed, pollution, fashion. Of course you can come of with your own theme if the ones I suggested don't appeal to you.
Stock photography is photography that has been licensed for commercial and/or editorial use and is sold through stock photography agencies.
Anyone from webmasters, bloggers, editors, publishers, through to marketers and businesses choose to turn to stock agencies for their photography needs because it is often cheaper than hiring a photographer.
Many photographers earn a decent income from doing stock photography.
Video Tutorial - What is Stock Photography?
Underwater photography can provide some wonderful opportunities for some truly amazing photos, whether it be a photo of the trail of bubbles created by a child 'bomb diving' into a swimming pool, a photo of the magical world only found in a coral reef, or a surfer catching some waves.
There are several ways you can take photos underwater:
1. Buy a disposable waterproof camera - cheapest option but some of the photos may be blurry or grainy because settings options are limited.
2. Buy a waterproof see-through cover to put over your camera - cheap but doesn't offer the best results because sometimes the cover obscures part of the lens and can be seen as dark corners on photos.
3. Buy a waterproof digital camera - those usually take nice pictures but can cost several hundred dollars.
4. Buy an underwater camera housing - best results but can cost several hundred dollars depending on the camera it's designed for. Those made for pocket digital cameras usually sell for around $60 to $150 dollars. Once you start looking at housing for DSLRs prices start at around $300 but can go much higher.
5. If you own an iPhone, you can buy a waterproof casing that allows you to film and take photos underwater.
It is advisable to use desiccant in a waterproof housing unit or cover to absorb any moisture that might form inside it.
Watch the video tutorial below for more great tips.
Video Tutorial - Underwater Photography
Video Tutorial - Fixing Color in Underwater Photos with Photoshop
Taking Photos in the Rain.
Shooting in the rain can be a little daunting because many of us photographers fear getting our photography gear damaged, yet the rain can provide wonderful opportunities for some truly amazing photos.
To learn more about How photography in the rain will improve your photos.
To learn more about Rain Photography - Shooting in the Rain.
The Rain can Provide Great Photography Opportunities.
Real Estate Photography.
This can be a fun one, just pretend your home is for sale and you're a real estate agent taking photos to advertise it. Alternatively you can offer to take photos of someone else's home and give them a copy of the photos. You may even know someone who is selling their home and would be willing to let you take photos for them to use to advertise their house.
Some photographers make a living from real estate photography. If you think this might interest you why not start practicing now?
Real Estate Photography Two - Wide Angle Lens
Selling Your Home- Get Great Real Estate Photography- Part 1
Examples of High-key Photography
A high-key image is bright and lacks shadows and contrast, colours also tend to be paler with saturation usually reduced a little. The key to high-key photography is to control the dark tones in a photo - ultimately your aim should be to have no dark tones in a high-key image.
To achieve this, set your camera's exposure levels to high values, reduce the contrast levels and colour saturation level. Watch out that you don't over-expose too much though, you still want your subject to be clearly visible.
High-key images are usually used to try to convey a mood or feeling of positivity in your photos, such as happiness, fun, excitement, love, etc. High-key photography is also often used in product photography and to photograph subjects that are feminine or delicate in nature, for example female models, flowers, babies, children.
High-key photography provides best results when achieved in-camera, rather than when done in post-processing with the use of photo editing software. Other than over-exposing, you need to make sure the light in your shot is even all over. Ensure that there are no dark objects or clothes in your shot.
There are lots of great tutorials online about high-key photography if you want to know more about it and I've listed a couple for you here:
How to Take High Key Photos
The Complete Beginner's Guide to Shooting High Key
Examples of Low-key Photography
My last photography idea suggestion was for shooting high-key images, so it's only right that I suggest shooting low-key images right after it.
Low-key photography is usually used to convey a negative mood or feeling, eg. misery, sadness, death, suffering, loneliness, fear, pain, tension, drama - in other words the opposite of what a high-key image would be used for. But it can also be used to create a sense of suspense or mystery, which aren't necessarily negative things.
Low-key photography is the exact opposite of high-key photography because images are dark in tone and brightness levels, they have a lot of contrast, colour saturation should either be boosted or monochrome.
So to achieve a low-key look, set your camera's exposure levels to low values, contrast values to high and colour saturation boosted or monochrome.
Work in a dimmed environment with dark backgrounds and soft lighting only. You want to see the beautiful shadows that soft light casts.
As with high-key photography, there is loads of online information on low-key photography and here are links to a few websites to get you started:
Low-key and High-key Photography Tutorial
Photographing People at Work.
There are many people who work in public and they make very interesting photography subjects.
You might know someone who would be willing to let you photograph them at work on their work premises or private property where they may be working.
Emergency workers such as fire fighters, police officers, ambulance officers and volunteer emergency workers are always good subjects to photograph in action. As are surf lifesavers, market vendors, mailmen, park rangers, zoo workers, truck drivers, courier drivers, taxi drivers, festival and fair attendants, construction workers, waiters and waitresses in outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants, buskers and street performers, the possibilities are huge! Just be sure to be courteous and ask for their permission first if being photographed isn't usually part of the course in their job.
Photographing People at Work
Food photography is a lot harder than it sounds and can be quite a challenge. Because of the colours and textures in food, the lighting needs to be just right in order to portray them correctly.
Food should look appealing and appetising in photos.The food's presentation can make your shot go a long way.
Props and their layout are also important, they should enhance the appearance of the food and can be used to try to convey a mood, feeling or message about the food/meal in the photo.
Video Tutorial - Food Photography
Night photography can be a little daunting to even the most experienced of photographers, usually because of concerns for their personal safety and/or due to a lack of technical knowledge for what is required to take good photos at night but there are plenty of articles online written about the subject so do some research first to ensure you are well prepared.
Day vs Night
Take day and night photos of the same subject.
Day vs Night
Planes, trains and automobiles... motorbikes, trucks and boats... if you love the sound of a roaring engine, combine that love with your love of photography and capture shots of motorised vehicles in all their powerful glory.
Vehicles are the perfect subject when you want to take panning shots. Panning is where you focus on your subject and track your subject as it moves. This gives creates the illusion of movement in your photos because your subject remains in focus but the background is somewhat blurry. To find out about how to take panning shots, watch the video below.
Weddings, fairs, festivals, birthdays, national day celebrations, a boat race, a car race, a football game, a hockey match, a concert, an opening ceremony, a funeral... the list goes on and on. Event photography can be exhilarating so give it a go if you don't mind working among crowds of people.
Street photography is the taking of photography in public areas of a town or city and portrays people in candid shots going about their business. Many photographers choose to shoot street photography in Black and White to give their photos a documentary-style look. Here is a link to a page that offers some great street photography tips.
Shoot From a Different Perspective
Simply changing the angle or height at which you take a photo can create a dramatically different look in your photos. We've all seen pictures of busy streets taken from the top of tall buildings, or a flower shot from below, the camera looking up towards the flower. An unusual perspective can add drama or excitement to a photo.
Shoot From a Different Perspective
Video Tutorial on Perspective in Photography
Nude Photography and Boudoir Photography
If you have a willing partner this could be a fun and intimate way to share your love of photography with him/her. Tasteful and artful nude photography does not equate pornography. There doesn't even have to be any private body parts on display.
Generally, nude photography is shot in black and white because it is more forgiving of skin and body imperfections, but it's not a hard and fast rule.
Also if you want to shoot nude photography in public be sure to check about public nudity laws that may apply in the area you want to shoot in.
Because I want to keep this article G-rated, I'm not going to post any video tutorials on nude photography, instead I'm just going to provide links to some Youtube video tutorials on nude photography. I've also found some books on Amazon on nude photography with good average ratings from customer reviews, those books are listed below.
Taking beach photos doesn't have to be limited to the usual landscape shot. Take shots of the people and many other creatures that visit a beach as well as its flora if there is any. Beaches are a great place to try your hand at some action photography. Fishermen make an interesting subject as do piers and jetties.
Try monochrome shots, night-time shots or shots just after sunset or right before sunrise.
Take photos of a beach at different times of the day when tide levels vary.
Visit my blog to see my collection of beach photography images, you'll find the link to it at the top of this page.
Video Tutorial - Beach photography
Video Tutorial - Beach Photography
Get in close and take photos of... well... anything really, although bugs and flowers make for very nice macro photos. As do eyes, textured surfaces, sea shells and plants, but pretty much anything can be photographed in macro.
A good macro lens will give your photos a real edge though. Because it is often difficult to get a deep depth-of-field in macro photography it's a good idea to invest in a tripod so that you can use long exposures without camera shake, when using small apertures to get more depth of field.
Video Tutorial - Macro Photography
Video Tutorial - Macro Photography
Are you into social issues? Is there something about your local community that you feel particularly strongly about? Why not have a go at documenting causes and issues you care about through photography? You could write blogs or lenses about them and use the photos to illustrate them.
Video Tutorial - Photojournalism - Tips from Ed Kashi
We've all seen shots of a balloon filled with water just as it explodes and the water bursts out, or a shot of a raw egg breaking as it lands on a hard surface. That's high-speed photography - capturing fast-moving action that only lasts for a fraction of a second.
High-speed photography can challenge even the most seasoned of photographers, but it's well worth the effort because it can produce some truly stunning results.
There are tons of high-speed photography tutorials on Youtube.
Painting with Light
Painting with light is a recent new photography trend. Basically, painting with light is done at night or in very low-light situations and it involves the use of a torch light or other artificial light source to illuminate a subject or scene with your camera's shutter set on a long exposure.
Painting with Light
Using Some of the Above Ideas Together
If you really want to challenge yourself you could try using some of the above ideas together, for example you could try:
- Cemetery photography at night
- Taking photos of your dog at the beach
- Taking macro photos of body parts
- Black and white event photography
- - or any of your own combinations, it doesn't have to be limited to just two ideas either.