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21 Creative Photography Ideas and Techniques for Inspiration

11 min read

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creative photography.
Quick summary

Creative photography ideas can boost your confidence and give you something to look forward to in the morning. They can also boost your portfolio and make you stand out both online and offline. Our list of ideas and techniques will encourage you to try a little bit of everything. From smoke art to artistic levitation photography, you’ll find everything you need here.

The photography world is full of exciting possibilities and photo opportunities. If you’re tired of taking photographs that look too similar, try leaving your comfort zone and experimenting with creative photography ideas.

A good creative idea can help you develop your style, acquire new skills, and look at the world from a different point of view.

If you’re constantly doing the same things and not feeling inspired, you might enjoy approaching photography from a more artistic perspective.

The more you challenge yourself creatively, the easier it will be to transform your photography and feel refreshed. These ideas will boost your creativity and inspire you to try something completely new today!

1. Crystal Ball Photography

creative photography ideas with crystal balls.

If you want to look at the world from a different perspective, crystal ball photography is for you. This photography genre has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years thanks to its practicality and “wow” effect.

All you need is a crystal ball through which you can take photographs of your subject. This perspective will flip your subject upside down and make it look warped.

Crystal balls can make anything look outstanding. Popular subjects are landscapes and tiny details, like snowflakes and water droplets. 

2. Tilt Shift Effect

free lensing portrait of black woman.
True tilt-shift portrait of a young African-American female on the platform with an arriving train in the defocused background, strong bokeh, shallow depth of field; dazzling Brazilian girl in subway.

A tilt-shift lens can create blur in specific parts of a photograph, depending on how you adjust it. Unfortunately, tilt-shift lenses are on the pricier side and are often considered impractical to use in other situations.

You can create this effect using the free lensing technique. Carefully remove your lens from the camera. Without re-attaching it, hold it in front of the camera as if it’s attached to it. Experiment with different angles (without creating a big distance between the camera and lens) to create an intense blur effect. 

Free lensing is a risky technique as it increases the chances of dust entering your camera body. If you use this photography technique, make sure to be very careful and avoid areas with lots of fine dust.

3. Light Trail Photography

creative photography idea featuring the light trail technique.

Light trail photography involves using a slow shutter speed and capturing fast-moving objects in a low-lit environment. This effect is also known as motion blur. Although it’s possible to capture light trail images when it’s light outside, you’ll get the best results at night.

Using a tripod and a slow shutter speed, take photographs of moving objects like cars or other vehicles. The longer your shutter speed, the softer and smoother the light trails will appear. This is known as long exposure photography.

If you’re looking for more creative photo ideas related to this theme, you can use the long exposure technique to photograph other moving things like people, waterfalls, or birds.

4. Light Graffiti

example of creative light graffiti photo.

On a similar note, you can use the same long exposure technique to take light graffiti photos. Use a small light source, like a torch or a sparkler, to draw shapes or letters in a low-lit space.

You can use yourself or someone else as a model. If you photograph yourself, make sure to use a timer, a tripod, and a remote.

If you photograph someone else but don’t want them to be visible in the shot, ask them to wear dark clothes. This will help them blend in with the background. A very slow shutter speed will blur the model out as they move. 

5. Double Exposure Photography

artistic double exposure photograph.

Double exposures are an excellent way to strengthen your creativity and improve your editing skills. A double exposure photograph is made up of multiple images blended together in an editing program like Photoshop.

Double-exposure photographs often feature dark silhouettes of people or objects combined with colorful images of nature. The editing process is quite simple and doesn’t require a lot of time.

If you want to take your double exposure photography skills to the next level, make sure to join our online community, where you’ll learn how to improve your editing and photography skills every week.

6. Use Burst Mode to Capture Fast-Moving Subjects

close-up photo of water droplet.

If you want to take creative photos that are also sharp, use a very fast shutter speed. The faster it is, the easier it will be to take detailed photos of athletes, animals, vehicles, and falling objects.

This technique is known as high speed photography. To make the most of this idea, take photos using burst mode.

Burst mode will help you take multiple photos consecutively without taking your finger away from the shutter button. 

7. Make Your Own Backdrops

unlabelled product bottle surrounded by sand.

A DIY background can give you a lot of flexibility in your photography. No matter what kind of photographer you are, you can make good use of backdrops in your work.

For example, if you’re a product photographer and want to take more luxurious photographs of your subjects, you can create your own black background. All you need is a piece of cardboard and black acrylic paint. You can control the size, shape, and texture of each background and take creative photos every time.

DIY backgrounds are often more affordable than custom or professional ones, so feel free to get creative and experiment with different textures, colours, and shapes.

8. Take Creative Fantasy-Themed Photos

creative photography idea for fantasy photos.

Fantasy photography is a great way to boost your creativity and try something new. When it comes to creative photography ideas, this is definitely at the top of the list!

Fantasy photography is often associated with cosplay photography. Even though both have their differences, they’re both relevant to this theme

Cosplay photography is all about taking photographs inspired by a fictional character from a movie, comic, or another form of media. Fantasy photography often involves concepts that are made by the photographer.

Both types of genres can be very inspiring because they involve the use of costumes, props, and accessories that you don’t often see in other kinds of photography. For example, fantasy-themed photographs often feature swords and period costumes. These props and accessories can add a new dimension to your images and make them stand out.

9. Create a Photo Collage

creative collage featuring photos of baby with different expressions.
Cute collage of a little toddler baby boy, making different faces, isolated on beige background.

Collages are often used casually, but they can also be used professionally to tell a story about a person, a place, or a time period. A collage made up of multiple photographs can be much more expressive and powerful than a single image on its own.

Take the image above as an example, a collage made of multiple photographs that describe a baby and its expressions. If you looked at one of these photographs, you’d have a very different idea of the subject. However, thanks to all the different expressions, you have a much more dynamic view of the subject and the story that the photographer wanted to tell.

Collages are also powerful storytelling tools because they’re flexible. You can create a collage using any number of photos that you like. They can be portrait-oriented, landscape-oriented, or a mix of both. It all depends on how creative you’re feeling in the moment!

10. Use Two Images to Create a Creative Diptych

diptych of black woman posing in a studio.
Diptych of a beautiful young black smiling woman with red hair wearing wide red pants, a jacket, sweater, and shoes sitting in a studio with a grey and red background and holding a red hat.

Diptych photography is very similar to collages, except that it usually features only two pictures.

Two images put together can also be very powerful and can add visual interest to your images. You can explore this idea by putting two photographs together that are either very similar or very different.

In the image above, the close-up of the woman next to a wider shot where the background is visible provides an interesting perspective. Capturing both details and wider scenes in your diptych shots can be a creative way to express yourself and describe a scene.

11. Use Soap Bubbles

cats looking at soap bubbles outdoors.

Creative photography ideas don’t have to be expensive or luxurious. This idea is a great example of an affordable photography approach that can help you take memorable and inspiring photographs.

For this, all you need are soap bubbles, which you can find in a toy store. The bigger the bubbles, the better!

To make your photoshoot even more creative, ask someone outside of the frame to blow the bubbles for you. This will make it seem like the bubbles came out of nowhere, which will add a magical or surreal element to your photos.

Bubbles are very common in portrait photography, but you can also use them when taking photographs of pets or objects. Don’t be afraid of using them in environments where they’re not typically used, like a landscape. We’re confident that the results will impress you!

12. Create Neon Portraits Using Artificial Light

cyber punk photo of girl holding a light stick.

Neon portraits stand out from other kinds of portraits because of their vibrant and unusual colors. For this idea, all you need are colorful artificial lights. They don’t need to be professional. 

You can use colored filters to easily achieve this effect. With colored filters, you can use any kind of artificial light to make your neon portraits stand out. The brighter the light source, the stronger the effect will be.

Try experimenting with multiple light sources and using different colours to give your photographs a cinematic effect. 

13. Say Something Using Everyday Objects

"summer" spelled using flower petals and flower stems on a white table.
The word “SUMMER” is made of flowers on bright background. Spring concept. Flat lay Photography.

You can literally say something through your photographs by putting objects together on a flat surface. Flowers, food, and kitchen utensils are all great subjects for spelling words in a creative way.

This can be a time-consuming process, so make sure to prepare for your shoot beforehand. Choose a well-lit location where you can comfortably put everything together.

If you use lightweight objects, like flower petals, don’t shoot in a windy location.

14. Use Shadows to Tell a Story

shadow play technique using bedsheets and paper.

Some creative photography techniques can only work if you use intense light. The shadow play technique is a great example of this.

Instead of focusing on your subject, focus on their shadow. 

Shadows can be powerful and can add an abstract feeling to your work, especially if the subject isn’t clear. To create strong shadows, make sure to work with a bright source of light. If it’s sunny outside, take photos of strangers’ shadows on the street. If you’re shooting at home, create your own shadows using artificial light.

Consider starting indoors if you’re an absolute beginner. The more you can control your light source, the easier it will be for you to take the perfect artistic photo. A portable lamp can help you control the size and shape of your shadows without worrying about time constraints.

15. Take a Self-Portrait Without a Mirror

portrait of brunette holding a camera.
Creative photographer. Top view of a beautiful young woman in headwear lying on the floor and holding a camera while a suitcase and notepad lying near her.

This challenging yet creative photography idea will help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. For this idea, take a photograph of yourself holding your camera without using a mirror.

You can achieve this using a tripod and a remote. Alternatively, if your camera supports Wi-Fi, you can control your settings manually using a camera control app.

The key is to make it look like you’re unaware of the camera. Take photos of yourself enjoying a walk in the woods, taking photographs of your favourite subject, or interacting with someone.

16. Capture a Black and White Pattern

black and white close-up shot of dandelion seeds.

To take unique images, look for patterns around you. Patterns are often symmetrical and create a sense of harmony in photographs. If you convert your photos to black and white, you’re likely to get interesting results.

Without colour, different shapes tend to stand out even more. If you like your results, create a collection of pattern photographs in different locations.

Work on an “Indoor Pattern” and “Outdoor Pattern” photo series. This will inevitably boost your creativity! 

17. Levitation Photography

levitation shot of woman on a lake.

In levitation photography, someone or something floats in the air. If you’re looking for creative photography ideas that are also surreal, this is perfect for you!

To create this effect, take a photo of your main subject on a stool or steady surface. Take a photo of the same scene without the subject and stool. Make sure your camera settings are the same to avoid inconsistencies in lighting or focus.

In Photoshop, put the photos together. Create a layer mask and brush over the surface on which your subject is perched. Without the stool, your subject will look like it’s floating in the air. 

If you want an in-depth explanation of this process, make sure to join our 52 Week Project. Every week, you’ll be introduced to a new challenge with photography tips. We also offer constructive criticism. Join us today to awaken your creativity! 

18. Use Chalk Drawings In Your Photos

creative chalk drawing photo featuring a colourful doughnut.

Chalk is a powerful tool in the world of photography. When combined with a real-life subject, it can help you realize creative photography ideas that would be impossible to achieve practically.

Pick a dark surface on which you can draw with chalk. Chalkboards or dark pavements are perfect starting points. Then, pick a subject to photograph. Place it on the surface and draw pictures around it. Make the scene come alive.

You don’t need to be a professional illustrator to make the most of this idea. Use your imagination to tell a story. Keep in mind that even a simple sketch can transform your subject.

19. Creative Smoke Art

surreal smoke photo in a dark room.

Taking photos of smoke is challenging but incredibly fun. It can boost your creativity and help you take unique still-life photographs of a very fleeting subject.

For this, you need a black background and something that produces smoke or mist. You can use a cup of hot water, incense, or a match. Using a few incense sticks in a safe place will produce enough smoke for interesting photographs.

Use a narrow aperture, like f/11, to capture the smoke in detail. Make sure to keep a safe distance between your camera and the subject to avoid burning anything. 

20. Capture the Beauty of Details with Macro Photography

close-up shot of water droplets on a leaf.

A macro lens will give you the ability to see the world from a unique perspective. Water droplets, flowers, and insects can all become unforgettable subjects in macro photography.

Instead of looking for creativity and beauty in other places, look for small objects to appreciate in your neighbourhood.

Go for a walk and photograph details that most people ignore in their everyday lives. This will not only refresh your creativity but also encourage you to look for beauty no matter where you are. 

21. Commit to a Long-Term Challenge 

black woman taking photos using DSLR camera.

If you’re hungry for more creative photography ideas and techniques, you can join a long-term photography challenge. Challenges like this are perfect for anyone who wants to build healthy habits as a photographer. By learning something new consistently, you’ll train your creative muscles.

There are many projects to choose from, but you can start by joining our 52 Week Challenge. You’ll get access to weekly video tips and a forum where you can share your work with other students. Our community is a great source of inspiration for anyone who’s missing that creative spark in their life. 

elderly woman painting calmly with a brush indoors.

Conclusion

Creative photography ideas can encourage you to be more curious and artistic in your everyday life. They can show you a different side of yourself and highlight your strengths as a photographer. 

If you’re not sure where to start, randomly pick an idea from this list. The most important step is the first one. Once you get started, you’ll be amazed by all the possibilities that these ideas have to offer.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
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