We all need fresh ways of exploring the same creative outlet. New angles, inspiration or even a completely new way to compose and construct a final image. Its this newness that keeps us inspired, on our toes, and ultimately (and hopefully) doing our best work. For this next round of the Creative Photo Challenge – we are pushing the envelope and asking you to do the same. By combining multiple images, angles and maybe even camera settings from multiple images you can create a collage that captures the intimacy of a normal portrait but does so in a uniquely distinct way. Using your photography in new artistic ways can also inspire you creatively and force you to take a look at a new approach to composition and framing.
Lindsay will walk you step by step through creating a whole new piece of art from your photographs. It will also give you the opportunity to use pieces of certain images that you liked to compose one single end result that leverages shots that didn’t necessarily make the cut the first time around, but which, when combined, add up to something greater than the sum of their unique parts.
When Lindsay took on the task, she decided to ‘get physical’, take multiple shots, print them out, tear them up and then arrange her configuration in a way that resonated. She placed her subject in front of a white wall for background, and then took a series of emotive portraits with varying facial expressions, ensuring that when she collaged, later on, it would enable her to have varied results. Once she had the pieces, she tore them up and arranged them until she was pleased with the layout. Then – a simple glue stick and foam core to finalize the composition – and there you have it.
As the days get longer, many of us long to be outside. This is especially true for photographers, who know good photographs are waiting to be taken in uncharted territory. If you have the itch to get outdoors, consider going beyond your neighborhood park and tackling a true adventure: a hike.
Once you’ve filled your backpack with the essentials you’ll need for the duration of your hike, it’s time to pack up your camera gear and head out. Before you leave home, though, read through these tips that can help you snap phenomenal photos while also enjoying breathtaking views.
Map Your Route
The first tip is something you’ll need to do before you leave home. Carefully research different hiking spots and choose one that can add to your portfolio. Look for a trail that will add diversity to your portfolio, rather than shots similar to the ones you already have. Once you’ve identified the perfect trail, map your route, highlighting significant hot spots along the way. Apps like MapMyHike can help you plan your journey electronically, allowing you to go offline once you’re on the trail.
As you start your journey, it’s important to stop and capture every photo opportunity you see. You may pass something and tell yourself you’ll catch it on the way back, but by then the lighting may have changed or you may choose a different return route. Make plans to arrange your hike around the photos you’ll capture and you’ll find you don’t rush past the highlights. If capturing the perfect shot means varying from your route slightly, make sure you can safely do so, then go for it. Some of your best shots will be completely unplanned.
Look for Unique shots
Nature scenes are so prevalent, they can tend toward mundane if not handled correctly. Develop an eye for noticing a picture that will stand out and take your hike as the opportunity to capture unique images. Along your hike, search for long streams or tree lines that span the length or width of the photo, drawing the viewer in and creating a unique, interesting look. Use leading lines and the rule of thirds for photos that will stand out in your portfolio and possibly even get you noticed.
Thousands of photographers have snapped photos of streams and mountains. Your goal as a photographer is to find a way to portray nature in unique ways. Look for reflections and shadows that add interest to an otherwise average photo. Even the way the sun peeks from behind the clouds can make an ordinary photo extraordinary. As a photographer, you already have an eye for the unique. A hike merely gives you new ground to explore, where you can potentially find something unique every step of the way.
As a photographer, your portfolio can be dramatically limited if you stay within the same area every day. By venturing out and taking a refreshing hike, you can expand your portfolio with shots that stand out. With a little careful planning and an open mind, you’ll come back with more than a full portfolio. You’ll also have made a few memories that will last a lifetime.
Photography competitions put your images in front of a group of highly skilled photography experts — and offer more than just the possibility for an award. But how do you submit images that stand out among thousands of other excellent photographs?
Newborn and portrait photographer Kelly Brownhas won 18 industry awards across the span of just six years — but when just starting out, she had no idea how to navigate the world of photography contests. Now, she’s sharing her photography competition tips to help others find success — and feedback — in the contests.
Photo by Kelly Brown
Feedback is more valuable than an award.
Most photographers enter a photography contest to win — but Kelly says that the feedback from judges is much more valuable than the award itself. The judging panel is creating a set of standards that determines what’s a professional image and what goes above and beyond the usual professional caliber.
Even if your photograph receives a low score, the feedback that comes along with that less-than-stellar outcome will help you improve your work, giving you the tools to know where to focus your efforts. While an award has value, finding areas to improve your work is even more valuable.
Photo by Kelly Brown
Understand the guidelines and what the competition is looking for.
In her first image competition she tried, Kelly admits she didn’t even understand what, exactly, the competition was looking for. Each photography contest is different. Some focus on a specific genre, others a certain technical aspect and some hone in on a specific theme that changes from year to year. The first step to entering a photography competition is to understand what that specific contest is looking for.
An image can be great but fail at an image contest simply because it’s not what the judges are looking for. The winning images in any given contest are both great — and perfectly suited for the contest theme or focus.
Nail the technical aspects like lighting and color balance.
A bit of inappropriate blur or overexposure is the fastest way out of the running for a top prize in a photography contest. The technical aspects should be spot on. Factors like a proper exposure, sharpness, color balance and lighting are essential to winning a photography contest. Creativity is important, but often the winning images are both creative and technically correct.
The exception? Intentionally breaking a “rule” to make a statement — and even then photographers taking this approach should be cautious. For example, look at this image that won a category in the WPPI print competition, using blur to obscure the couple’s identity and make the image look like a painting.
Photo by Kelly Brown
In the same way, make sure any editing is perfect too. An imperfect healing brush or clone job will be quickly recognized by judges. Get that image as close to perfect as possible in editing, while following the contest guidelines (some have strict restrictions on edits, so be careful of that).
Photo by Kelly Brown
Creativity and style is key.
In any given competition, judges sift through thousands of technically correct images — creativity and style start to push images towards the top of that pile. Getting creative with composition is one way to set an image apart. Getting creative with color and tones is another. Adding elements that helps a single image tell a story gives an image loads of creative energy, something many of Kelly’s award winning images use.
Importantly, the creativity should suite the genre. The image should still fit into the category the judges are looking for.
Photo by Kelly Brown
In print competitions, the paper and viewing conditions matter too.
Images are usually submitted to photography competitions in two ways: digitally, or in print. If you enter a print competition, there’s even more to consider. Paper choice can play a subtle role on the final quality. For example, Kelly suggests that a highly textured paper won’t work as well in a newborn photography contest because the texture won’t quite work well with soft baby skin. An off-white paper will look warmer than an image printed on a pure white paper, while paper with more texture can help an image to look sharper.
Before entering a print competition, Kelly suggests printing a smaller size on a handful of different papers. Then, view them in a softbox or across from a window to simulate the lighting conditions that the judges will be viewing the images in. Different paper types can even obscure some of the finer details that give an image that big impact.
Photo by Kelly Brown
Impact is essential.
The images that win top prizes in photography competitions are the ones that make the judges get out of their chair. Judges look at hundreds of images at a time — an image with impact gets the judges to look closely at the details even after seeing hour after hour of new images. When a judge gets out of their chair, they see those smaller details that push the image above the rest.
Creating an image with impact often involves several elements working together — creativity, story, lighting, composition and more. Often, these images are often stand-out, unique images, not the shots that simply follow the trends, but the photographs that make new trends.
Yes, winning a photography competition is about creativity and impact — but its also about understanding the contest and the judging process. In her class, Capturing Story in Portrait Photography, Kelly shares tips for both capturing those creative portraits and insider insight on finding success in photography competitions.
By looking at shadows the same way you look at light, you can create textured backgrounds or unique patterns in your photos. Among her techniques, Lindsey will employ tactics as simple as using a piece of lace and a single hard light, to cast a patterned shadow on her subject’s face, for example. So now, its time for you to get creative in how you use your light and shadows to create textures and patterns in your images.
Inspiration comes from anywhere and its no different when it comes to shadows. Ultimately as photographers we use what is at our disposal on site. Whether its light slashing through the blinds, a unique geometric pattern cast from a fence or long cast shadows from things like buildings and trees — we are our best as photographers when we are able to recognize the myriad inspirations around us and use them to our advantage. In the studio, Lindsay Adler will use Gobos and artfully constructed patterns that she cuts out to get the desired effects that she is looking for (read more about it here and watch her full inspirational video below).
Creative Photo Challenge No. 6 - Play with Shadow w/ Lindsay Adler | CreativeLive - YouTube
But when she’s out in the field, she relies on the natural objects, light and their interplay to find inspiration and get the perfect shot. Below, you can see a few results from inspiration Lindsey found in the studio with a piece of lace and a single hard light.
So – its time for you to show us what you got. Whether you use natural objects, props or studio effects, for this challenge, its time to embrace the shadows to show us how you can use patterns, darkness and intricate details to bring new layers of depth to your work. Read the full details here.
If the warming temperatures and longer days aren’t enough to rekindle your creative spark, adding a few books on creativity, entrepreneurship, and finances could waken that creative drive. From managing finances to building leadership skills, the right book can help heighten creative prowess or find that missing piece to running a small business or managing your own finances.
Compiling both books written by CreativeLive instructors and work suggested by the same, here are some of the best books on creativity, leadership, and finances right now.
Stashing away enough cash for financial freedom and living for those dreams sounds great, but can you actually do that without drastic lifestyle changes? Financial expert and bestselling-author David Bach says that it’s not only possible, but easier than you think. In The Latte Factor, Bach and co-author John David Mann mesh financial advice with the story of a young woman that figures out how to get out from under a mountain of debt, making the book a quick and enjoyable read. Find those same financial secrets from the book in his class, live and free now through _____, How to Retire Early: The Latte Factor with David Bach.
The memoir of one of the most iconic women of today, Becoming by Michelle Obama captures the First Lady’s story from childhood to motherhood to the White House. The book comes highly recommended by Amanda Lucidon, the photographer working with the First Lady during her time in the white house. Ahead of her upcoming CreativeLive class, Amanda recommends digging deeper into Michelle’s story with the best-selling memoir.
Big news from the CreativeLive camp! Michelle Obama’s official Whitehouse Photographer, Amanda Lucidon, will be teaching a new class on May 21st! Sign up now to tune in free.
Find the courage to embrace change, reinvent the possibilities and hurdle over your failures. In Imagine it Forward, author, speaker, and business leader Beth Comstock discusses creativity and the power of change — and building the courage to embrace both. Critics call the book candid and fresh, earning the book a spot on the 2018 Best Business Book Pick by Fast Company. Join Beth and explore the concept of leadership through imagination in Imagine it Forward, then find additional insight into courage and creativity with Beth’s class, Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change.
Many millennials graduated college or started a career in the midst of a recession — but that should stop the young adult generation from taking control of their financial future. In Broke Millennial Takes on Investing, Erin Lowry breaks down investing basics for the millennial generation. After graduating from college debt-free, Erin shares what millennials need to know about investing while you still have student loans, investing apps and more. Learn the basics in the book or in Erin’s class, the Beginner’s Guide to Investing.
Research professor, author, and speaker Brené Brown puts her years of studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy into a guide for leadership. In Dare to Lead, Brené shares insight and actionable steps for building leadership skills. The book is based off a seven-year study of leadership and bravery — Brené shares snippets of the research in an interview with Chase Jarvis.
Making a major change doesn’t have to mean months of work — in fact, entrepreneur, speaker, and author Mel Robbins says it just takes five seconds. In The 5 Second Rule, Mel gives readers the tool to take five seconds to push yourself to become more confident and to stomp out doubt and uncertainty. The instructor for How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence shows how to stop holding yourself back in this highly rated book.
There are those books and movies that make a huge debut then fizzle out — and then there are those that becoming longstanding classics. In Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday discusses the difference between the two and how creatives can sell work that lasts. For more inspiration from the media strategist and author, try the course Smart PR for Artists and Entrepreneurs or check out his interview with Chase Jarvis.
This isn’t your ordinary cookbook. In Heirloom Kitchen, Anna Francese Gass explores the recipes and traditions of immigrant women that helped make American cuisine what it is today. Those stories are punctuated with images from CreativeLive instructor and photographer Andrew Scrivani, who will release his own food photography book in the fall of 2019.
Long a bestseller, I Will Teach You To Be Rich is now in an updated second edition that guides readers through smashing debt, saving cash, investing smartly, handling big purchases, making money and more. In the book, financial expert Ramit Sethi leads readers through the tools to both earn more and save more. Critics say the book offers advice for every generation, with a language designed for the younger generation.
Take control of your personal finances, earn more money on the side, and land your dream job with a high salary with strategic advice from Ramit Sethi’s online class.
Working in a creative career means coming up with great imaginative ideas on a budget — so how do creatives manage to, well, create, on a regular basis? In The Accidental Creatives, Todd Henry shares how creatives can maintain focus and energy and build a support system for creativity. Then in his latest book, Herding Tigers, Todd shares tools to build leadership with a creative team.
From the device you are reading this on to the appliances in your kitchen, design plays a major role in today’s products — but design can also play a role in your life. Stanford design professors Dave Evans and Bill Burnett walk through using design concepts to shape your own feature in a book ideal for anyone stuck at any point in life. The book also sparked a CreativeLive class by the same name.
Extraordinary women know age is just a number. In a series of interviews, essays, and profiles, Lisa Congdon shares the stores of women that found their creative passion — and started living their best life — after 40. Mixed with art, stories and women like Vera Wang and Laura Ingalls Wilder, critics call the book both colorful and delightful.
“I came into the world of art as somebody who is going to a foreign country and doesn’t speak the language or know the cultural norms.”
Being an artist is hard work but if you figure out the systems around it and are persistent in your belief, you too can make a living at it. Check out our artist profile on Lisa Congdon.
Behind the Art: The Path to Becoming A Working Artist with Lisa Congdon | CreativeLive - YouTube
Color is one of the most compelling elements in an image so why not make sure each color is completely under your control? Using a photo shot with natural light, Lindsay Adler will walk through how to use the Photoshop layers panel to target and adjust your hue and saturation to enhance the colors in your portraits.
Get Challenge No. 5 – Take Control of Color in Photoshop right now, right here.
“Color is one of the most important visual weapons in our arsenals as photographers. It can set a mood, create high impact, and direct the viewer’s eye throughout the frame. In one challenge in this book, you created an image all about a single color.
For this challenge, you will create an image where the use of color is essential to the impact of the image and you can use as many colors as you want! Here, however, you will utilize Photoshop as an important tool for helping to make your use of color purposeful and under your control!”
Creative Photo Challenge No. 5 - Take Control of Color in Photoshop w/ Lindsay Adler | CreativeLive - YouTube
Soft Boxes can create a beautiful glowing light, but building a studio setup can get expensive fast! Achieve the same look with items you have laying around the house with the help of Lindsay’s DIY solution. All you will need to create two DIY soft boxes are a bed sheet and a semi-transparent shower curtain to create a high-key fashion portrait.
Watch the full demonstration of Lindsay’s high-key photo shoot using her DIY softboxes below.
Creative Photo Challenge No. 4 - High Key Portrait with DIY Softbox w/ Lindsay Adler | CreativeLive - YouTube
Looking for more challenges to spark your creativity? Sign up for the full 10-week portrait challenge available to start anytime. Step outside of your routine, see the possibilities and discover what you love to capture!
Slouching isn’t flattering, especially in photos. Professional portrait and fashion photographer Lindsay Adler has tried a variety of seating options in her studio, finding that traditional chairs can be a bad idea for portraits.
“If you have someone with a chair, they tend to sit back,” Adler says. “I try not to give people chairs to sit in. In my studio, I give them posing stools or something like that. If you do have a chair, I make my subjects sit on the edge of the chair.”
Adler’s work has appeared in top magazines like Noise, Essence, and Zink Magazine. In addition to her commercial and portrait work, she regularly teaches workshops to help photographers learn more about the craft. As she demonstrated at CreativeLive’s Photo Week, she has a few tricks to get around a client’s natural inclination to slouch.
Demonstrating with a model, Adler shows the dramatic difference one particular pose can make. The pose involves putting an elbow on the back of the chair, sitting with your back completely straight, and positioning the camera toward the side of the chair. But first she had the model demonstrate how many subjects will sit when asked to prop an elbow on the back of the chair.
“This is bad posture,” Adler says, pointing out that when someone slouches forward in a photo, all the viewer sees is the chest area. She then asks the model to, “Pull up to the top of her head. What that does is elongate that area.”
The Right Position
However, the pose initially showed problems. When the model first propped her elbow on the back of the chair, it created “foreshortening,” making it look as though she didn’t have a forearm at all. Instead, Adler recommends creating a triangle by having the model rotate her hand forward, lower her shoulder slightly, and tilt her head.
The result is a lengthening of the torso that creates a leaner, more flattering picture. It also adds white space between the model’s body and her front-facing arm, which makes for a more balanced photo. This creates an attractive outline between the model’s torso and arm, which is more visually appealing to the person viewing the photo. In that same pose, the photographer can shoot the subject from a variety of angles, all with the same stellar results.
Shooting from Above
Adler demonstrated how that angle can be shot from above. Positioning the camera above her subject, Adler showed that a photographer can capture an attractive photo without the model having to move at all. This is ideal when photographing someone on a chaise or couch.
“Whatever’s closest to the camera looks largest and then I’d have negative space for the couch,” Adler says, pointing to the negative space between the subject’s bodice and arm.
Use reflections in your images! You can use reflections to tell a story or to create something a bit more abstract, like a visual riddle! You can also look for reflections in unusual places to create images that excite the eyes and intellect!
For this challenge, I combined three mirrors to create a prism for my camera. By varying my focal length, placement of the lens and focus I could create drastically different interpretations of the scene before me. I used all natural light in a public park to photograph my beautiful subject, Stephanie. I love how I can transform an ordinary environment into something extraordinary with a creative little DIY project!
If you aren’t familiar with Benjamin Von Wong‘s work then keep reading for some of the most viral and impactful images created. Von Wong is an artist / photographer who creates elaborate projects focused on bringing awareness to environmental change.
He may only accomplish 18 photos a year, 2 of which he may consider ‘successful,’ but the production that goes into is work his impressive in it’s own right. Von Wong has traveled the world teaming up with social impact activists and hundreds of volunteers over the course of his career to pull off his ambitious ideas.
His activism started when his grandiose fantasy photography lead him to commercial work. However, sometimes what you think you want doesn’t always turn out the way you’ve imagined it. Von Wong began asking himself “why create work only to move units off shelves?” It was this question that started him down a new more ambitious path that combined the work he was known for with art that had social impact.
Ben Von Wong uses his talent, knowledge, and art to focus on conservation and social impact projects. Watch his free ‘In Focus’ keynote to learn how to ignite conversations through the power of creativity. Watch now!
If you want your creativity to say more about what matters to you, here are 3 things Von Wong suggests you do:
Commit. It’s never going to be easy to add rules into the creative process. Build it with the end in mind and when you hit road blocks, because you will, don’t dilute your idea with excuses. Use your creativity to find answers.
Take Control. We’re all born with advantages and disadvantages. Maintaining control of what’s in your power rather than letting limitations dictate what you’re capable of will ultimately create a project with greater impact.
Break Boundaries. Comfort is the deadly enemy of creativity. If you know how to do something push yourself 10% more to keep growing year over year, heck sometimes day over day. And if you can convince whomever you’re working with to double down and take a chance with you, that’s when things can get really interesting!
Art has the possibility to change the world or at the very least influence it in the right direction. It’s an emotional experience, it can be hard to measure it’s impact but never the less, if you feel called to action we encourage you to go for it!
Harness the power of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and take your creative potential to the next level. Get all 42 Photoshop Week classes for just $99.