Creativity is a spice of life. It’s what keeps us excited It keeps us at the top of our game. Being creative often requires experimentation which can take up a lot of time. Here’s how to strike a balance between creativity and efficiency.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, modify it

When I suggest “Don’t reinvent the wheel”, I’m not advocating stifling your creativity, I’m suggesting to modify the wheel to become proficient. Start with a solid base, technique or lighting pattern then slightly modify it. Once it’s to your liking, modify it some more! Doing this enough times can completely change your original concept while keeping your work on a solid foundation. This applies to editing your images, too. Doing this will also help prevent you from getting bored.

Photography: Make the safe shot, then get creative!

I start my portrait sessions by taking the safe shot. You know, the shot that you have taken a million times and know will always look good. Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to feed your creativity! Start by building upon the foundation. Soon, the new and creative shot can be an optional starting point. Doing this several times will give you several optional starting points.

*These images were shot using the same lighting pattern with slight modifications

Software: Create your own Actions, Presets & Looks

Do you find yourself performing the same edits to your images? When that happens, take a moment and create an action, preset or Look to help automate the process. Years ago, before Lightroom, I found myself constantly starting each portrait session in Photoshop by duplicating the background image, applying a skin softening technique and added different layers to enhance eyes, lips, and sculpt the subject’s face. Creating an action allowed me to assign a keyboard shortcut to speed up my workflow.

Now, let’s fast-forward to today’s image editing software options. Software such as Skylum’s Luminar made it easy for me to create my Vintage Look using a combination of their filters. Sounds the same as presets, but Looks can also include Blending Modes and Opacity changes made to a filter or a layer. In short, Looks are very impressive and can save time while keeping your creative style. An added bonus, people will start to recognize your style!

Striking a balance between creativity and efficiency will turn you into a pro and real pros are proficient.