Getting creative!

Bored by the standard flower, bird, sunset and portrait sessions? You’re not alone (cheesy statement, I know, but seriously – you’re not).

Some ways to break that rut: Look at other “creative” photographers'” works for inspiration.

One of my favorite is Brooke Shaden on flickr. She relies heavily on post-processing, which isn’t my cup of tea, but even if I ignore that aspect, her works still blows my mind. So creative!
where the storm goes

Three ideas for you to try this week:

  1. Use a common household item in an unexpected way. For example: a field of balloons with your model sitting somewhere in it. All you need is a big bag of balloons and a healthy pair of lungs.
  2. Clones: depict one person in various positions interacting in a realistic-ish way. Eg: kitchen, clone #1 holds a pot, clone #2 tries to sneak a taste, clone #3 gags, clone #4 freaks out over the mess.
  3. Bodyscape: Photograph a body part using dramatic lighting.

Side note: I think I’ll be making “Getting creative!” a semi-regular feature.


I’d like to make constructive criticism of images a regular feature on this blog. If you’d like to partake, you’ll need a thick skin. I’m not mean, but I am honest and I’m not the sort to offer false praise. I don’t do the “ooh, it’s so pretty!” shtick.

I am forthright. I will offer my best opinion in an objective, practical manner. If I think your picture’s eff’ed up, I’ll let you know in a polite manner. If I see areas I think you can improve, I’ll say it. And let’s be honest – pretty much every image out there could use some improvement.

Here’s an example of my work. For a few weeks in either 2009 or 2010, I played with the idea of putting Star Wars Legos troopers in different situations.

By Zombie Photography

This image is cropped a little too tightly. It’d be nice to have a better scope of what challenges the figs are facing. Also, what’s that guy at the bottom doing? Is he climbing or holding the rope? It’s not really clear. In short, you need to take a bit more time to set the scene.

While the camera angle is interesting, it does this particular image a disservice – again, it’s hard to get a grasp on the scope of what’s going on here. That said, I like the DOF (f13). You could’ve opened it up a bit more for a shallower DOF, it might’ve improved the image a bit by making the illusion of distance between the figs on the step and the figs on ground even more vast.

You came very close to blowing out the whites (overexposing), but it kinda works here; it lends the image a sort of a harsh, gritty look. That said, I suggest looking into using off-camera flash with a diffuser for future works on this scale.

If you’re interested, hit the “email Zombie!” link in the left column just below the text, and send me the image you’d like CC on. Be sure to downsize it to 600pixel wide, and write in either body of email or an attachment that you grant Zombie Photography permission to put the image on this site (I will not provide CC otherwise). Include your real name, date you took the photo, and tell me how you’d like the image credited (if you don’t want your real name posted). If you like, slap a copyright logo on it, just make sure it’s transparent enough for me to see the image clearly.

Oh yeah, please: no birds, flower or sunset pictures. They’re literally a dime a dozen. Thanks!

Should you give away your pictures?

In short, no.

Even if you are a casual hobby photographer, never give away your photographs. Not even if they promise “credit” or “exposure.” Why?

It cost you time and money to create that one photo. Why should anyone get it for free and redistribute it and make money off your image?

Look at it this way:
Most average hobbyist spend at least $300 for a basic dSLR kit, spend time learning how to use it, maybe even a class or two. Every time they pick up their camera, their skill increases. With me so far?

Let’s say a small NPO business contacts you and asks, “hey, I saw your picture and love it! Can we use it? We are a small nonprofit and we don’t have a budget for this. We’ll give you credit.”

Let me tell ya, most (not all, there are exceptions, of course) NPOs are raking it in. They get enough via grants and donations that they can pay their employees and maintain business expenses. Why shouldn’t a photo be considered one of these business expenses?

When they use your photo, they are getting advertisement and exposure for months or even years – and you’ll never see a dime of the money that brings in. As for credit/exposure – think about it. When was the last time you saw a picture on a business website and thought, “ooh, I gotta know who took that picture”?

The Art of Photography: food for thought

People tend to lump photographs into two categories: snapshots and photography.

The distinction between the two are pretty clear. Snapshots are generally considered informal photographs, taken on a spur of moment with no real planning. No studio equipment, no consideration for light, rule of thirds, etc.

And all other photographs are, well, photography. Planned in some shape or form. The photographer puts thought into how their subject is lit, how the ultimate image is pleasing to the eye. Portraits, studio images, commercial images would mainly fall in this category.

I contend that there is a third form of photography: fine art photography. These images are the ones in which a photographer takes it a step further. The images are created with the intent of conveying a message or has aesthetic values.

The distinction between the photography and fine art photography, however, is fine. How do we separate the two? Is there some overlap? (I say yes). When does an image transcend to the status of being fine art? How do we categorize that?

What are your thoughts?