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  1. #1
    EmyB's Avatar
    EmyB is offline Shameless MWAC
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    Default Can a creative eye be LEARNED?

    I have been studying and practising my photography for 4 months now (I know that's not long), and I am still loving every minute of it. I feel like I'm now getting a really good grip on the technicalities, exposure triangle etc etc and have started using manual mode confidently in difficult lighting situations etc.

    Looking back on my photos I can see them steadily improving technically but I am very worried that I just don't have the knack for composition. I don't easily "see" where the best viewpoint will be from, or what might look good. I think I can recognise these elements in other people's photos and after the fact (which is why I'm often disappointed with my photos when I review them on the computer) but in the moment, I really struggle!

    For example I went to a big public exhibition/festival a while ago solely for practising photography and going back over those photos they are technically okay but just not interesting or captivating to look at. I am often disappointed in this manner when going back over my photos and am quite discouraged.

    I have seen some books on this topic but I am just dubious that this is something that can be learned. Do you either have it or not?? I've never been very artistic (logical minded) and I am just worried I don't have it!

    Any thoughts? Or any book recommendations??

  2. #2
    autofocus's Avatar
    autofocus is offline I'm old here...
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    Emy, I hate to say it, but I think it's something you are born with. And everyone is born with some level of creativity. It may manifest itself differently from person to person, but with time, patience and practice it can be embellished regardless of how much (or little) you were blessed with. Creativity is also somewhat subjective. What's creative to the engineer designing a gear may not be considered creative to an artist or a musician, but it is creative none the less. My wife is also a photographer, and she can find things to photograph that I wouldn't even think of doing. But, I am learning from her, lol. I think we have to realize that all shots aren't going to be creative masterpieces. Many are just going to be quick grab shots designed to capture a particular moment. Maybe a way to start to hone your skills is to photograph things that you particularly love. Shoot lots of them...different angles, different light conditions, different points of view, different depth of field, in focus, out of focus, b/w, toned, etc. Pick a subject, and shoot the daylights out of it...push those creative juices. You just may surprise yourself with the results.
    Vince "...the law of unintended consequences, sometimes, you get a truly memorable photograph"
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  3. #3
    Tzetsin's Avatar
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    I think this is where the "take a zillion pictures an you might get 10 shots that are good" mentality comes from. More people than not have this kind of problem i think. I know I do...

    Honestly though, I think this is where "experience" comes from. The more I shoot, the more keepers I get, the more I understand what it was that seperated the keepers from the rest, the more I learn, and the more my ability in composition improves.

    I think setting goals and specific practice time for certain compositional elements is important to train your mind to look for these kinds of things.

    Its long been known that some things come naturally to some people, but its also known that those with talent can only get "so far" on it. If you take two people, one with talent, the other with dedication, and watched their progress over 2 years I'm sure you would notice that the one with talent would quickly exceed the ability of the dedicated person for the first couple months, but slowly the dedicated person would catch up, surpass and blow away the talented person who got lazy because they only relied on their talent.

    Talent is like a 'head start" in a race. It will only take you so far and after that, your on equal footing with everyone else.

  4. #4
    ceremus's Avatar
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    There are definitely ways to improve your composition, quite a few tips from our own site here: Digital Photography Tips and Tutorials

    It can also be helpful to expose yourself to the work of more established photographers, look in to how their shots are framed, what angles they were taking from, how the focal length and background plays into them, etc.

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    Elmo's Avatar
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    Can one learn creativity? NO. Can one develop creativity? YES. So what is the difference. As stated above you and everyone else is born with creativity. The issue is we have been raised in a rule based society, and rules confine creativity. We need to pay attention to the principles the rules illustrate, not the rules themselves, only then can we become truly creative.

    Release yourself from the rules. Apply the principals and enjoy.
    Last edited by Elmo; 12-28-2011 at 02:11 PM.

  6. #6
    sk66's Avatar
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    A creative eye can be "learned" ( or developed). Much of it comes from experience but it also comes from "openness".

    A good book for you might be Tom Aang's Master Class....it has assignments in it, and if you want to get the most from the book you should do them.

  7. #7
    autofocus's Avatar
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    ..funny that you say assignments Steve. I was going to suggest for her to pick one subject per day, shoot it 10 times with each shot being different. Then upon viewing them to rank them from most favorite to least favorite, and ask yourself what it is that makes it a favorite or not favorite. Continue to do this little exercise daily for a few weeks, and you may start seeing things in photos that you never noticed before. It will also force you to be a little more creative in your shooting
    Vince "...the law of unintended consequences, sometimes, you get a truly memorable photograph"
    Gear: Canon G2, Canon 20D, Nikon D300...bunch of lenses
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  8. #8
    bigben6 is offline Still learnin'
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    I think it is a split between inherent eye and what can be learned..... some people just have it and will always be better than you, some people have to work for it, just like sports, or music....

    I know I do not have an inherently GREAT eye.... I also know when i began toying with the rule of thirds my pics got more interesting, then i knew when to break form the rule of thirds and some pics got better again, then i started dealing with depth of field and again, they got better still, then i toyed with intentionally slow shutter speeds and again, better, then you combined an off center subject AND interesting depth of field or an intentionally slow shutter AND some other apsects together and things start to get decent.

    This does not make me a GREAT photographer, but it certainly makes me better than 3 years ago when i got my first DSLR....
    Nikon D40
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    If your struggling listen to this!

  9. #9
    praline3001's Avatar
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    I am just the opposite. I can find great subjects that are interesting but fail on the technical end. Now that I am really trying hard to learn the technical side... I get too wrapped up in it and forget the artistic side of photography LOL

    Here is something I have done in the past and still do whenever I get into a flustered funk over my photography. I go someplace nice and fun. I don't worry about ANYTHING except clicking the camera. I will take photos of some REALLY strange stuff LOL

    I do not worry about exposure or technical at all. I usually put it on P or auto while doing this. I just have fun with my camera catching things normal people miss while walking past.

    It is a very similar technique used in creative writing classes. They have students write non stop for 5 minutes. No grammar, no subject ..just keep writing and don't stop. Its amazing what comes out!!!

    Sometimes your creative side just needs a wake up call. I am having a really hard time balancing the technical with the artistic. By the time I get my exposure correct my creative thinking has left the building lol

    Remember, that memory card can be deleted. It doesn't cost you much to take a photo anymore, like it did in the film days. So take your camera out there, hit the *p* setting and start snapping and don't stop. Upload the photos and see what you got and where you were going with the shot. You can surprise yourself a great deal this way.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/praline3001/
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  10. #10
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    I believe that there's a little bit of both involved. Everyone has their own perceptions about the world, and so each person will be inclined to "create" a composition and frame a scene with their camera in a unique way.

    However, there are definite techniques and methods that can help you learn to develop your creative and compositional mindset. There are so many great books out there that can help, but the best ways to improve over the long run are to look at as many photos as you can, study why you like or don't like each image, and then go out and shoot as many photos as possible.

    Four months is not very long, when you consider that many photographers have been at it for years. I'm going on 22 years next month and I'm still learning and improving.

    Photography is a life long process. Enjoy the ride and don't get too impatient.
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