If you want to improve your photography skills, the key is to practice, and as often as you can with different photo themes. As much as we would like it, there’s no shortcut or singular formula to create great photos since every subject and setting is different. Not to mention the numerous setting combinations, camera features, gear, lighting and weather conditions. Even in a controlled environment such as a studio, understanding the composition principles, familiarity with the equipment, and tricks learned from experience are essential and those are largely learned through practice. Personal style and artistry also become more evident the more you practice. After all, it isn’t simply about having a good grasp of the technical aspects of photography. Among other things, it’s also about sending a message, capturing that elusive moment, expressing creativity and imagination, and attempting to connect with the viewer and evoking a response.
Practicing all the time and trying to create visual masterpieces can be extremely fun and fulfilling. Yet, there are occasions when you are not inspired to shoot or feel inclined to even go near the camera. If you feel like you’re in a slump, consider challenging yourself with these easy and fun photo themes:
Shoot ordinary household objects – Composition and lighting techniques, and a pinch of creativity can transform the most humble and ordinary of household objects into stunning photo subjects. Look at the stuff lying around your house, really look at them. Do they have interesting shapes, colors, or textures? Experiment with camera angles, light sources, and combinations of objects such as in the photo below of the spoon and fork:
Shoot one color –another photo theme would be to shoot with one specific color as the main interest. Although this may seem limiting, it can also help you focus on one singular element in your photos. Pretty soon you’ll enjoy hunting for objects and scenes that have that particular color. Try to capture as many shades of that color as you can, as well as various saturation intensities. Stay inspired by bringing out your playful side and being imaginative with your compositions.
Shoot pets – if you have pets, they can make fantastic subjects for a photo theme. They are easily accessible, most probably cute and photogenic, and you’ll end up with a cherished photo gallery of your beloved animals. This photo theme can also be an exercise in patience and capturing things in motion since many pets hardly stay still long enough for you to get a decent shot. (Not unless they are sleeping, of course, but you might quickly get bored of shooting them in various prone positions.)
Tips: To freeze motion, use a fast shutter speed like 1/250s or higher. You can also shoot from a low camera viewpoint so your camera is at their eye level. This would make the composition appear more intimate. Shoot abstract close-ups – if you like taking close-up photos, challenge yourself more by giving them an abstract twist. Avoid elements that would immediately identify the subject. Abstract photos can appear mysterious and strange, making viewers guess what the subject might be. Take note that your abstract close-up should still be well-composed, and not a haphazard snapshot. Play with shapes, patterns, textures, and the like, such as with this extreme close-up photo of a lotus flower seed pod: