Looking to get inspired with some creative photography ideas?
In this article, we share 9 easy ideas to get your creative juices flowing – and best of all, each and every one can be done from home. You don’t need to take expensive trips or head out in bitterly cold weather; just set up at your kitchen table, prepare your camera, and have tons of fun!
So if you’re ready to capture some incredible photos, then let’s dive in, starting with our first idea:
1. Photograph water droplets
Water droplet photography does require some specialized equipment – but the results are gorgeous, and you can literally spend years capturing different splash types, backgrounds, colors, and more.
Plus, once you understand the basic setup, it’s relatively easy to get images like this one here:
To start, you’ll need a camera with a macro lens (or with significant close-up capabilities). You’ll also need a tripod (to keep your camera in position), an off-camera flash (to light the droplets), a dropper, and a bowl of water.
The idea is to position your camera next to the bowl of water. Switch your lens to manual focus, then prefocus on the middle of the bowl (where the water will fall).
Hold the water dropper high, drop a few droplets over the bowl, and as they near the water surface, fire your camera.
Note that water droplet photography will involve plenty of trial and error, especially if you use the simple DIY setup I’ve described above. To make your droplet photos more consistent, you can purchase specialized water droppers and rigs (though these can get expensive, so I only recommend going such a route if you’re serious about this form of photography!)
2. Shoot some food
Everyone loves to practice food photography, especially when the food looks amazing. The genre is huge (and potentially lucrative if you can sell your food photos as stock).
To get started with food photography in the comfort of your own home, follow these guidelines:
- Lighting is key. Natural light such as window sidelight works great. If you use off-camera flash, the light should come from behind the food – but be sure to reflect the light back (i.e., with a reflector) to avoid unwanted shadows in your photos.
- Pay attention to the background. Standard still-life backdrops, such as a pure white lightbox, can be effective. But you can also have fun with textured backgrounds, such as fabric or painted canvas. Don’t just choose the background randomly; make sure it adds context to the food you wish to photograph!
- Style your food carefully. The best professional food photographers use food stylists, but the rest of us don’t have that luxury. Instead, you must carefully arrange your food in a beautiful composition (you can have fun experimenting, but I often like to use repeating elements, such as in the strawberry shot below).
3. Lensball light painting
Lensballs offer an easy way to capture gorgeous refraction shots – but if you want to take your lensball photos to the next level, why not try lensball light painting, which can be done indoors with a few basic items?
You’ll need a dark room, so either shoot at night or in a basement or bathroom with zero windows. You’ll also need a tripod to hold your camera still, as well as a table and a sheet of glass to hold the lensball.
Place the sheet of glass on the table, then carefully position the lensball on the sheet of glass. (I like to use a keyring under the ball to prevent it from rolling, which I edit out later.)
Set up your camera so that it’s focused on the lensball, turn off the lights, and dial in a shutter speed of five or more seconds.
Then, once you hit the shutter button, walk around the room with a flashlight. Have fun drawing different patterns in the air (as you can see in the photo below, zigzags are always fun!). No need to be too rigid; the wilder the pattern, the more interesting the result.
4. Freeze objects in ice
If you’re stuck at home for a few days, why not try some frozen object photography? It’ll get you unique photos just like this:
To get started, fill a container with an inch of water, stick it in the freezer, then wait a day.
Next, find a few interesting objects, such as food, flowers, or even toys. Place them on top of the ice sheet, add more water (until they’re covered), then put the container in the freezer and wait another day or so.
At this point, you can add more water and wait yet another day – it depends on the thickness of the ice and the look you’re after – or you can remove the ice from the container and start shooting. I recommend lighting your subject from different directions (you might even experiment with backlight for a cool, ethereal effect).
5. Photograph glasses on a white background
Wine glasses look amazing when photographed right. Here’s a quick setup that’ll get you shots like this:
First, grab a few wine glasses, then place them on a reflective surface (plexiglass is best, but you can try a mirror or even a piece of glass).
Fill the glasses with a liquid of your choice. Water plus food coloring works great; alternatively, you can use wine or juice.
Set up your camera in front of the glasses, and place a piece of white paper or a white sheet behind the scene. Point an off-camera flash at the white background, then fire off a shot!
Nailing a perfect exposure may take a bit of trial and error, but if you can blow out the background while keeping the wine glasses well exposed, then the results will look amazing.
6. Photograph oil and water bubbles
Oil and water, when mixed, creates the most beautiful bubbles:
But how do you capture such a lovely effect? Fortunately, it’s pretty easy, as long as you have a macro lens and a tripod.
Combine oil and water in a clear container (a glass baking tray works well). Elevate the container using cups or blocks of wood. Then position an interesting background beneath the setup, such as colored paper or even a printed photo.
Fix your camera above the mixture, then snap away! To create new bubble formations, stir the mixture with a spoon every so often (and if you’re not using an off-camera flash, you’ll need to wait until the bubbles stop moving for a sharp shot).
7. Capture water droplets on glass
Here’s another fun creative project you can try: shooting water droplets on glass.
Like the oil-water idea discussed above, you’ll need to elevate a glass sheet, then slip an interesting background underneath. To create water droplets, coat the glass with windscreen water repellent, then use a water dropper to create a nice pattern of droplets.
(Alternatively, you can try mixing water and glycerin, then dropping it onto the glass via the dropper.)
Position your camera above the glass, get close, and take plenty of beautiful images! Every so often, switch out the background; that way, you get a variety of stunning shots.
8. Create bokeh shapes
Bokeh refers to the blurry, out-of-focus areas of a photo. But did you know that you can actually change the shape of the background bokeh…
…simply by adding a cutout in front of your lens?
It might sound weird, but it works. We go into greater detail in this article on making custom bokeh shapes, but the basic idea is that you take some black construction paper, cut an interesting shape into the center (like a star or a zigzag), then “mount” it onto the front of your lens.
When you take photos, the background bokeh will mirror the cutout shape, and you’ll end up with a mind-blowing shot!
9. Photograph light spirals
Light-spiral photography is unique and fun, plus the effects are amazing:
You’ll need a completely dark room, a tripod (to keep your camera still when shooting), as well as a light source attached to some string. (If you don’t have a tripod, you can always place the camera on the ground, facing upward.)
Then set your shutter speed to 30 seconds or so, start spinning your light source, and take some photos. To see the setup in action, check out this excellent video.
At-home creative photography ideas: final words
Hopefully, you’re now ready to use one (or all!) of these ideas for creative photography.
So grab your camera and get started. For the best results, you should experiment constantly. Who knows; maybe you’ll develop a brilliant new technique of your own!
Now over to you:
Which of these creative techniques do you plan to try? Do you have any creative ideas of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments below!