Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @28mm, f/8, 9 frame HDR, ISO 800, finished with Lightroom and Photomatix pro.

There’s a great podcast I listen to each week, and it really helps with my creativity. It’s called Writing Excuses, and it’s intended for fiction authors. Their topics, however, often apply to all creatives (one I especially liked was this one about using your experience to influence your work). It’s only fifteen minutes long, and at the end they always give a writing prompt.

The prompt is powerful because no matter what kind of difficulty you’re having creating, taking this assignment gets your juices going and helps you get to work. That’s one of my favorite things about commercial work: my clients have goals in mind, and that channels my creativity and makes it easier to be a problem solver. Left to myself, wondering what to shoot is just too open ended, and I end up doing nothing. So I’d like to offer some shooting prompts, some challenges you can go work on, practice with, and master. Then, we can all share our results in the Google Plus community and Facebook group. Even if you only shoot landscapes, or only shoot weddings, do all of these and I guarantee your creativity will flow and you’ll become a better photographer.

  1. Power lines are always “ruining” landscape photographs. Go make a beautiful picture of power lines. Turn the weakness to a strength.
  2. Flower pictures are hard to make stand out because everyone shoots the front. Make a great photograph of a flower from the back. Shift your view 180 degrees.
  3. “HDR is a passing fad that is cartoony and won’t last.” HDR is a tool that belongs in your bag no matter what you shoot. Go make an HDR image including people. You don’t have HDR software? Our friends at HDRSoft have a free trial version of their incredible Photomatix they’ll let you use, and we’ve got tutorials in the HDR Learning Center.
  4. Window light is the best light, and it’s time to find out why. Make portraits of five different people using two different windows. Get used to staring at people near windows to see how light falls. Best answer when they ask why you’re staring? “I’m a photographer, and I was just stunned by how beautifully the light is falling on your right now.” (I’ve won several clients with that line)
  5. Bad weather makes great pictures. Spring is a fine time for sudden and extreme weather. Go out and make three portraits and two landscapes in it. If you’re worried about your equipment getting wet, try shooting out of the back of your minivan, from a parking garage, from a blind at the bird refuge, or with a shower cap on your camera. Make the best of the worst and you’ll end up with the greatest images.

This has been Shooting Excuses. You’re out of excuses, now go shoot.

***Triple word score if you can get all five exercises in one image***