Every artist, photographer or otherwise, comes to a point in their creative process where they must look elsewhere for inspiration. As such, we felt it would be a great idea to compile a list of creative photography ideas. We’re going to touch on some creative and technical strategies that might stimulate your photographic eye – so without further ado, here’s our list of creative photography ideas to get inspired by.

Cool Photo Ideas Using Lenses

Adjust focal length and positioning

Self-Portrait Photography Ideas - Portraits by Dan Vojtech

Self-Portrait Photography Ideas  •  Portraits by Dan Vojtech

As photographers, we often say “this picture would look best with this lens.” And although that’s a valid strategy, sometimes it begs the question: what if we took a picture with what we consider the wrong lens?

For example, why not experiment with taking portraits with a wide-angle lens? It will look distorted – but if realism isn’t the main intention, there’s nothing wrong with adjusting the focal length.

Cool Photography Ideas

Play with light and shadow

Creative Photography in Film - The Chiaroscuro Effect in Citizen Kane

Creative Photography in Film  •  The Chiaroscuro Effect in Citizen Kane

Chiaroscuro is the technique of using light and shadow in a visual image, often by way of stark contrast. We’ve seen chiaroscuro used expertly in wood carvings, Caravaggio paintings, and Orson Welles’ best movie, Citizen Kane. In photography, chiaroscuro often works best when there’s clear contrast between a lighted element and a shadowed element.

Cool Photography Project Ideas

Make a shadow play

Creative Photography Ideas - Shadow Play by Javier Téllez

Creative Photography Ideas  •  Shadow Play by Javier Téllez

The shadow play is one of the oldest types of visual storytelling – and it makes an enticing picture idea for struggling creatives. We often obsess over the appearance of visual depth. As such, it can be refreshing to go back and start with silhouettes. But whatever you do, make the shadow play your own.

Creative Picture Ideas

Try double exposure

Creative Photography in Television - Double Exposure in True Detective

Creative Photography in Television  •  Double Exposure in True Detective

Double exposure is actually a rather old photographing technique but it’s only become prevalent in recent years due to how easy it is to achieve with digital cameras. It’s so popular in fact that it’s become a cliche in movie/tv opening credits. Some cameras have a built-in double exposure setting. If your camera doesn’t have a double exposure preset, you can always achieve the effect in Photoshop or most other editing programs.

Good Photo Ideas

Experiment with false color

Creative Photography Ideas - False Color Techniques

Creative Photography Ideas  •  False Color Techniques

False color programs may be most frequently used on film sets to achieve perfect exposure, but they’re also incredibly useful for taking photographs. False color is essentially the process of seeing degrees of exposure represented by different colors.

Photography Project Ideas

Master the art of overexposure

Creative Picture Ideas - Artful Overexposure in Sunshine

Creative Picture Ideas  •  Artful Overexposure in Sunshine

We’re taught that overexposure – or when an image appears brighter than usual – is a bad thing. And it is… most of the time. There are times when overexposure can be used for an artistic purpose – like it is in the image above from Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Play around with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to get a similar effect. Just be mindful that it likely won’t come out like Boyle’s image did on your first try.

Creative Photography Ideas

Capture your pet in a new light

Creative Photography Ideas - Photo by Anne Geier

Creative Photography Ideas  •  Photo by Anne Geier

Amateur photographers and professional photographers alike love taking photos of animals. Why? Because everybody loves pets. Well, mostly everybody. But the more important question is: how can we get creative with pet photography? One way is by using different lenses.

By using different camera lenses, we can capture animal subjects at different angles in different depths of field.

Still Life Photography Ideas

Change your orientation

Creative Picture Ideas - Landscape Picture by Brian Matiash

Creative Picture Ideas  •  Landscape Picture by Brian Matiash

One way you can change the visual composition of an image is by changing its orientation. Landscape orientation is when an image is wider than it is taller. Portrait orientation is when an image is taller than it is wider.

Portrait Photography Ideas - Photo by Christopher Rosario

Portrait Photography Ideas  •  Photo by Christopher Rosario

By changing the orientation of an image, we can alter its visual composition. Consider stuffing a landscape photograph with vertical lines like the first photograph – or stuffing a portrait photograph with horizontal lines like the second photograph. These strategies create a satisfying geometrical contrast.

Cool Photo Ideas With Color

Combine color with framing

Creative Photography Inspiration - Color Still From Birdman

Creative Photography Inspiration  •  Color Still From Birdman

This still from Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman is often cited as one of the most “perfect” shots from contemporary cinema. Why? Two reasons: color and framing. The color of the pepper-lights make the image pop; and they frame our primary subject at the center of the frame.

Kudos to the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for his work on the film. Consider framing a picture of your own with Christmas lights and a central subject to get a similar effect.

Photography Theme Ideas

Take to the skies

Creative Photography Ideas - Drone Photo by Dirk Dallas

Creative Photography Ideas  •  Drone Photo by Dirk Dallas

Aerial photography offers a perspective we rarely see in our everyday lives. As such, aerial photography serves as the perfect basis for picture ideas that we can take from new vantages. Drones like the DJI Mavic Air aren’t cheap though – so if you’re anything like me, you might need to save up before taking your camera to the skies.

Photography Ideas for Beginners

Get away from light pollution

Good Photo Ideas for Nature - Photo by Adam Schmid

Good Photo Ideas for Nature  •  Photo by Adam Schmid

Production lighting is great for on-set shoots but sometimes it’s nice to get away from artificial luminescence in favor of something more natural. You won’t find many more stunning photographs than those of a night’s sky with little or no light pollution; added bonus: you’ll get to reconnect with nature!

Photography Theme Ideas

Go crazy with hydro dipping

Creative Photography Ideas - Hydro Dip Art by Artist Unknown

Good Photo Ideas for Nature  •  Photo by Adam Schmid

Hydro dipping is a catch-all term for abstract color art. The technique has been popularized in recent years by artists who hydro dip clothing items into a chemical mixture to get a psychedelic effect. Hydro dipping also works with canvas and can be a great subject for trippy photographs.

Photography Ideas for Beginners

Take advantage of the holiday season

Cool Photography Ideas - Photo by Steven Gerner

Cool Photography Ideas  •  Photo by Steven Gerner

Let’s face it: holidays and seasonal events often make for great photographs. And some holidays make for better photoshoots than others.

Creative Photography Ideas for Halloween - Photo Via Boston.com

Creative Photography Ideas for Halloween  •  Photo Via Boston.com

Go out into the world during Halloween or Holi to capture visually compelling photographs without having to stage a scene of your own. And follow our tips for portrait photography to capture subjects in purposeful detail.

Easy Photography Ideas

Hone your skills with sports photography

Creative Photography Inspiration - Sports Photography by Matt Nielsen

Creative Photography Inspiration  •  Sports Photography by Matt Nielsen

Whether you like sports or not, you should consider practicing your photography skills at sporting events. But before you venture out onto the local pitch, field, and or court, make sure you have a good lens. Check out our article on telephoto lenses to see the best tools for shooting sports photography.

Cool Photography Ideas

Give us a long shot

Creative Photography Ideas - The Long Shot in Rear Window

Creative Photography Ideas  •  The Long Shot in Rear Window

The long shot is a bit different from the extreme long shot; whereas the former usually captures a full-subject in zoom, the latter captures a setting or subject from an extremely wide angle.

Here’s a long shot:

Photography Project Ideas - Long Shot Example in Moonrise Kingdom

Photography Project Ideas  •  Long Shot Example in Moonrise Kingdom

And here’s an extreme long shot:

Creative Photography Ideas - Long Shot Example in Inglourious Basterds

Photography Project Ideas  •  Long Shot Example in Inglourious Basterds

Easy Picture Ideas

Give us a close-up

Creative Picture Ideas - Medium Close Up in Sunset Boulevard

Creative Picture Ideas  •  Medium Close Up in Sunset Boulevard

You don’t have to be Gloria Swanson to be ready for a close-up. Check out our articles on medium close-ups, close-ups, and extreme close-ups to see how to capture subjects in intimate detail.

Easy Photography Ideas

Force a perspective

Creative Photography Ideas - Photo by RM Nunes

Creative Photography Ideas  •  Photo by RM Nunes

Forced perspective photography is a type of photography that relies on illusion to make subjects appear larger (or smaller) than life. You’ve probably seen forced perspective photos taken in front of world monuments like the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Fun Picture Ideas

Recreate a museum classic

Photography Photo Ideas - Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan via Reddit

Photography Photo Ideas  •  Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan via Reddit

In 2020, the world famous Getty Museum tasked aspiring creatives with recreating famous pieces of art by way of photographs taken from home. The results were… surprisingly excellent. Take the image above for example: the similarities are uncanny (sans the pink and blue socks). Recreate a classic with a comedic flair for an attempt at photographic satire.

Still Life Photography Ideas

Photography ideas at home

How to Develop Photography Ideas at Home - Photo by Jordi Koalitic

How to Develop Photography Ideas at Home  •  Photo by Jordi Koalitic

Sometimes you can find a great photograph hidden in the confines of your home. Photographer Jordi Koalitic has taken some great photos from a home setting (like the image above).

Just be mindful that many of his photos have heavy-editing flair. Consider framing your photos from home with different film lighting techniques.

Good Photography Ideas for Beginners

Capture light during golden hour

Photography Photo Ideas - Photo by Haruki

Photography Photo Ideas  •  Photo by Haruki

Golden hour is the last hour of light before sunset – and it’s often when we capture the most effusively-glowing outdoors photography. During golden hour, consider using a wide aperture and underexposure to capture the warm glow of the fading sun.

Reflective Picture Ideas

Reflect on something unique

Cool Photography Ideas - Photo by kwe

Photography Photo Ideas  •  Photo by Haruki

It’s hard to shoot reflection photographs without the impression of them coming across as contrived. To mix it up, consider shooting a reflection  at a different angle than you usually see or focus on the reflected subject rather than the primary subject.

UP NEXT

Bokeh photography examples

If you’re looking for more creative picture ideas, check out our article on bokeh photography where we break down what bokeh is with bokeh examples from around the world. By the end, you’ll know how to use shallow depth of field to achieve a bokeh effect!

Up Next: What is Bokeh? →
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