- Photographing With the "Wrong" Lens
- Photographing Faceless Portraits
- Photographing Motion
- Photographing in Low Light
- Photographing Emotion
- Photographing Food
- Photographing With Water
- Photographing Shapes
- Photographing Smoke
- Photographing Forms and Textures
- Photographing the Mundane
- Photographing Creative Selfies
Photography ideas certainly aren't difficult to come by these days. In fact, there are many different types of photography you can try.
With thousands of YouTube videos, photography articles, and photos to inspire you, there's never a lack of things you can do with your camera.
I've scoured the internet and found 12 awesome photography ideas that are among my favorites.
If you're in a funk or just need to change things up a bit, these photography projects will help you find your creativity and create something awesome.
Let's get started!
Table of Contents
Photography Idea #1: Photographing With the "Wrong" Lens
Photo by Jenny Caywood via journeyofjenny.com
Sometimes all you need to do to jumpstart your creativity is switch up the lens you use.
Instead of photographing landscapes with a wide-angle lens, try photographing landscapes with a telephoto lens on your camera and see what kinds of different compositions you can find.
Doing so forces you to look at the scene with a completely different set of eyes. Rather than taking in the entirety of the landscape, you have to look for forms, colors, textures, and small vignettes that would make for a compelling photograph.
A telephoto lens also allows you to compress the scene and make more distant elements - like the mountain in the photo above - seem nearer and larger.
So, if you have a 70-200mm lens like I do, extend the focal length to 200mm and experiment away!
Likewise, try taking portraits with a wide-angle lens instead of a more traditional 85mm lens, and explore how you might use the distortion of the wide-angle to come up with interesting portrait ideas.
Naturally, with a wide-angle lens you can incorporate much more of your subject's surroundings, so environmental portraiture might be worth a shot.
Just beware - framing and composition are absolutely critical when shooting wide-angle portraits. For example, since you have a much wider field of view, it's often recommended to shoot from a lower perspective up towards the model, rather than taking the shot from the model's eye level.
Doing so allows you to capitalize on all that background for a killer shot!
For a few tips on shooting portraits with a wide-angle lens, check out the video above by Nick Scolaro.
Photography Idea #2: Photographing Faceless Portraits
I don't know about you, but when I think of portraits, I think of smiling faces.
But a person's face isn't the only part of their body that can tell a compelling story.
In fact, you don't need the person's face in the photo at all!
Faceless portraits are a prime opportunity to get creative and tell a totally different story about a person.
As you can see above, a portrait of a person's hands can be quite striking - the wrinkles of the knuckles, the shape of the fingers, and the interaction of the fingers with the man's face make this a beautiful portrait.
When creating these types of portraits, it's important to get closer to the subject. Doing so allows you to highlight those small details (like the man's wrinkles in the photo above).
Getting closer to the subject also allows you to fill the frame, which results in a more intimate portrait for viewers to experience.
Photography Idea #3: Photographing Motion
Photographing motion is a fun way to create images that look like nothing else you typically photograph.
And though images like the one above in which there is beautifully blurred movement might look difficult to create, they really aren't.
Shutter speed is the key to photographing motion - a fast shutter speed will freeze the subject's movement while a slow shutter speed will blur it.
Each subject is different, so there is no single shutter speed that will be ideal for each situation. You'll just need to experiment.
Also be aware that the distance you are from the subject and the direction it's traveling will influence how blurry the movement is - the closer the subject is, the slower the shutter speed you'll need to blur its movement.
Likewise, if the subject is moving directly towards or away from you, you'll need a slower shutter speed than if the subject is moving laterally.
Learn more about using a slow shutter speed to blur motion.
Photography Idea #4: Photographing in Low Light
Though many people assume that low-light photography means nighttime photography, that isn't necessarily the case.
Low-light can be anything from photographing indoors without much ambient lighting to taking photos during blue hour.
Heck, there might be low light in a very thick forest during the middle of the day!
When photographing people in low-light situations, use single-point autofocus to give you more precise control over where your camera focuses.
Doing so will ensure you get a sharpness where you want sharpness - the person's eyes.
Just be aware that photographing in low light means you'll need to help you camera collect as much light as it can. This might mean opening the aperture, extending the shutter speed, or boosting the ISO.
Photography Idea #5: Photographing Emotion
Joy and agony, love and hate, and all the emotions in between make for incredibly powerful portraits.
Not only that, but focusing on the emotionality of a moment can help you tell a more compelling story about the subject and the emotions they're experiencing.
Though you can sit around and wait for a candid moment to occur, you can also elicit honest emotions by simply talking to your subject.
If you don't know them well, ask a few questions, crack a well-timed joke, and you might be able to capture a genuine and hearty laugh in a photo. There are plenty of other things you can do to take better portraits as well.
Another trick to capturing emotion is to focus on the "in between moments." Keep shooting even if the subject doesn't know you're shooting, and you're likely to get some candid shots that have much more emotion than the ones in which you say "smile for the camera!"
Get a detailed tutorial in capturing emotion in portraits in the video above by Advancing Your Photography.
Photography Idea #6: Photographing Food
Is it raining outside? Don't let the foul weather ruin your desire to take photos...
Just stay inside and head to your kitchen!
As a matter of fact, grab your camera, take out last night's leftovers, and start firing off shots.
The key to food photography is to style the shot such that the food looks as mouth watering as possible.
You can do this in a few different ways - with fruit, spritz it with water to give it that freshly washed look. With main courses, take photos of the preparation stage (i.e., hamburgers on the grill) to help viewers think of what it might smell like standing next to the grill as the burgers cook.
You can even get creative with your food (or play with it, I suppose!) and focus on a theme.
Grab some Alphabet Soup and see what messages you can come up with in the bowl.
If you don't have any Alphabet Soup handy, you can create your own alphabet using the fruits and vegetables in your fridge.
The beauty of food photography is that you have tons of possible subjects right in your kitchen cupboards. The challenge is to make the food look interesting and appealing, and with these food photography tips, you can do just that.
Photography Idea #7: Photographing With Water
What subject is more fun than photographing with water.
I mean, you can photograph water droplets, fruit, water reflections, your kids playing in water...you name it!
What's funny about this photography idea is the video I recommend above is from my friend Bryan Peterson. The video is over 10 years old, but it's a goodie!
The video below is from Mark Wallace (from way back in 2011) and offers a different take on photographing with water:
I remember feeling so inspired after watching these videos all those years ago.
In fact, these videos led to hours and hours of experimenting with water, different lighting setups, and my gear.
Here's a few photos I took back in the day that were inspired by the videos above:
Now it's your turn!
Watch the videos above, find some inspiration, and get cracking with photographing with water.
Photography Idea #8: Photographing Shapes
Photographing shapes might be one of the funnest photography ideas of all.
On the one hand, you can create a photo like the one above, in which the repeating pattern of the shape gives the photo wonderful balance and symmetry - both of which our eyes naturally enjoy.
On the other hand, you can use shapes to create minimalist shots.
As shown above, this high-key image of a hand and a light bulb is simple and straightforward, but the shape of the hand and the contrast in the image makes it a compelling shot to view.
Note as well that these photos were taken with objects that you can source right in your own home, so this photography idea is a super easy one to undertake!
Photography Idea #9: Photographing Smoke
Smoke is one of my favorite props to use because there are so many different possibilities.
You can find all sorts of different colored smoke bombs to add a punch of color to any shot.
I also like that the form smoke takes is so unpredictable - from one shot to the next it can look totally different.
Of course, you don't need smoke bombs to create epic photos of smoke.
In fact, as Gavin Hoey explains in the video above, you can create a setup right in your own home to photograph smoke in a matter of minutes!
Give one of these creative photography ideas a try if you need a little more inspiration.
Photography Idea #10: Photographing Forms and Textures
As I mentioned earlier, photographing shapes is a fun and easy way to create images that have an interesting look.
But add in texture, and you have a recipe for something that can be truly astounding.
The great thing about texture is that it helps give your photos more depth and dimension.
The key to capturing that dimension and highlighting textures is to use the right lighting.
In many cases, sidelighting - when the light enters the scene from the left or right - will bring out the textures in the shot, as seen above.
But as Bryan Peterson explains in the video above, backlighting can also be used to bring out the texture of a subject.
Backlighting occurs when the light source is behind the subject, so in Bryan's case, the sunlight illuminates the seashell he's photographing and emphasizes its form, shape, and texture.
Need more instruction on different types of light? Check out our tutorial on 10 lighting facts you need to know.
Photography Idea #11: Photographing the Mundane
Normal, everyday subjects might go unnoticed as you go on with your daily life.
But there can be beauty in the mundane, especially if you put on your creativity hat and approach the shot with interesting compositions in mind.
Like other tips described above, finding textures, patterns, forms, shapes, and so forth will help you identify mundane subjects that might make for interesting photos.
The essential component of photographing the mundane is to keep things simple.
Sometimes, normal, everyday scenes might seem empty or devoid of interest, so you might feel the need to add more things to the composition.
However, all this does is muddy the waters, and the end-result is often a photo that just looks like a cluttered mess.
In addition to keeping the composition simple, look for interesting light.
Contrast between highlights and shadows, interestingly-shaped shadows, and golden hour light are all great additions to a photo of an everyday scene.
Photographing the mundane can be a challenge because it will force you to think outside the box. But that's just what you want to do when you want to become a more effective photographer!
Photography Idea #12: Photographing Creative Selfies
Far too often, we're so focusing on what we can photograph with our cameras that we forget that we are a great subject for photos.
Though not everyone likes to have their photo taken, a good 'ol selfie - particularly one that's creative - can be a fun photography idea to try.
Obviously, holding your phone at arm's length or taking your photo in a mirror is not creative, so let's try something else...
Take a cue from the earlier tip about a faceless portrait and photograph your hands, feet, legs, or make a self-portrait as you look away from the lens.
You can try to obscure part of your face, too - use fabric, your hands or arms, or even water to do so.
Just keep photography composition rules like the rule of thirds in mind so your creative selfie is well-composed.
Likewise, seek out good light - shoot during golden hour for a nice, warm glow or shoot indoors near a window so the light is nicely diffused.
Don't be afraid to get silly with your selfie, either. Sometimes the best part of photography is simply having a laugh with your camera!