Self-assignments of everyday subjects to spark your creativity

I spend close to 300 days a year on the road shooting assignments and teaching workshops in some of the most far flung locations you can imagine. I love to travel, and photographing new cultures and environments gets my creative juices flowing. Sights, smells, colors, and sublime light jumpstart my passion for image making.
But what ideas and subjects could you photograph at home to improve your photography?

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Creative Photography You Can Do At Home
Featuring Tom Bol

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Bringing Still Life to Life

When we think of still life, the first image that comes to mind is a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers. We think of drawing still life and depicting the object that is right in front of us. With still life photography, the emphasis is placed on your creative freedom to create an image, as opposed to merely capturing an image. The simplicity and stillness of your subject allows you to truly zero in on elements such as arrangement, lighting and composition, and try out new techniques.

The hero of a still life image is the subject matter. Observe your surroundings and pay attention to different textures, colours and shapes. Choosing objects that work together visually and keeping a similar theme allows you to tell a cohesive story within a single image. When deciding on your subject, you don’t necessarily have to stick to the traditional flowers or fruits. Older, antique subjects could be interesting, as their wear and tear has a subtle, untold history about them, making you wonder what they’ve been through. Alternatively, create a more modern still life photo by using more contemporary stylish trends and colours.

Your subject matter can be visually pleasing, or it can be extra personal. What you want to achieve with still life photography is to create something new out of an ordinary object and challenge your viewer to think about the subject in a different way. Only then, will you be able to create truly impactful works of art that aren’t merely limited to what the object is.

Lighting is one of the best ways you can adjust the mood or inject an interesting element to your visuals. With natural lighting, simply place your subject by the window and angle it in different ways to test out how the light hits your object. Furthermore, being patient and snapping shots at different hours of the day — morning, afternoon, golden hour, blue hour — could yield vastly different effects that might surprise you!

As for artificial lighting, light reflectors can allow you to manipulate natural light in your scene. Other equipment can also be used to soften shadows, illuminate the subject and highlight different textures. The trick to making your picture seem like it has been taken in a professional studio is to set your camera to a very fast shutter speed, low ISO setting and a narrow aperture. Doing so will keep ambient light out of the image and give you more control over the light from your flash.

No matter what kind of lighting you decide to use, the fool proof way to master still life photography is through trial and error. Take your time with it — after all, your subject isn’t going anywhere!
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Still Life Photography: Bringing Still Life to Life
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A Perspective On Patterns

It was only three years ago that Javan Ng got his hands on his first Nikon DSLR camera whilst living in the Big Apple, New York City. It has been an integral part of him ever since. Every road he walks he carries the feeling that ‘maybe today will be my lucky day and I will take the photo of my life’.

An urban explorer in every right, it is his love for traversing the cities he is in that goes hand in hand with the cityscapes he captures. He marvels at the daily humdrum of the metropolis and has an eye for uncovering patterns in places others may never encounter them. “When I photograph, I want to offer my audience a fresh perspective of the city, by producing images that busy people are unable to see and marvel at everyday.”
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A Perspective On Patterns
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Risk versus Reward

The ocean is fleeting, it is ephemeral, and it never repeats itself. Fascinated by the ocean since the very beginning, Ray Collins finds it equally challenging and rewarding to shoot amidst the salty water.

“You can’t ask Mother Nature for a reshoot in the studio. My favourite thing is the 1000th of a second, when I capture a moment that will never happen again.”
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Risk versus Reward
Ray Collins Photography
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Photography is story telling

On any given day, a small, petite lady can be found stooped over a long table, forceps in hand. It’s not a fine science, but there’s definitely some degree of creative madness because Eunice Martin Lim often spends hours and sometimes even days getting a set right with her food styling work.

“Photography is story telling. A story told in a single shot. People are naturally attracted to a beautiful set up, but I like to introduce a slight human element to give the photo life and a character of its own.”
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A Feast for the Eyes: Food Styling Photography
more by Eunice Martin Lim at nikon

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