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Creative Photography Exercises: Setting Limitations to Achieve Better Photography

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Every photographer can feel stuck at some point. I find this often happens when you have learned all the technical basics, and it’s time for you to start finding your way. Is this you? Here are some creative photography exercises than can help you shake things up. Keep on reading to see how setting limitations can help you to achieve better photography.

Creative photography exercises

Have you ever been to a restaurant that has a huge menu but you can’t decide what to order? The same thing can happen with your photography. Having the ability to photograph anything can seem daunting. That’s why setting limits before you start shooting can help you focus.

Creative photography exercises

You can set a limit regarding the idea or project you want. In this photo, I decided to limit my idea to fruits as a topic. You can also limit the tools and techniques that you can use – for example, using long exposure times. Here are some creative photography exercises to get you started.

Technical Limitations

Use only one focal length

As you probably know, there are zoom lenses and prime lenses. A zoom lens means that you can change your angle of view in seconds, which gives you great versatility. A prime lens has a fixed focal length, and this will force you to move around and re-compose your images.

Creative Photography Exercises: Setting Limitations to Achieve Better Photography

If you don’t have a prime lens, use your zoom but choose a focal length and stick with it for the entire exercise. Here I used an 18-55mm and put some tape as a reference on 40mm. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use both lenses, it’s just a way for you to practice without buying new gear.

Think in terms of film photography

Pretend you’re using a film camera and set yourself a limit of 12, 24 or 36 images that you can use. I suggest these numbers because film rolls were sold like that, but feel free to set a different limit without overdoing it. This will push you to put more thought into the final image before you press the shutter button.

Creative Photography Exercises: Setting Limitations to Achieve Better Photography

If you want to make it more challenging, try only using the viewfinder and not reviewing your images after shooting. Not having the chance to delete images in order to stay within the maximum amount gives you that extra push.

Project Limitations

Ride the bus

This is a fun project because you can approach it in many different ways. For example, you can choose to photograph the street while riding the bus or the metro. This takes away much of your control over the scene in front of you. You also have to deal with motion and reflections. And most of all, you have to react quick before you’re gone.

Creative photography exercises

You can also choose to photograph the inside of the vehicle. This is very close quarters so it will help you to overcome shyness. It is also challenging to compose and focus on short distances. So you may want to explore a wide-angle lens if you want to capture the full scene. The light probably won’t be very bright so you may need to bump up your ISO. Combined with the fact that you’re moving, you may find it challenging, but give it a try!

Always shoot at the same time

Program an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a picture exactly at the same time every day. If you have a routinary life, it will challenge you to shoot the same thing or place differently. If you have a flexible schedule, and the time, you will find yourself in different places, where you’ll have to deal with a variety of challenges each time.

Creative photography exercises

Either way, it will kick start your creativity. This image, for example, is only the heater from my studio. Try looking for different angles, play with lighting, etc.

Conclusion

These are just some ideas for creative photography exercises. Feel free to create your own according to your interest, gear and even the place you live. You just need to follow the same rule of establishing some guidelines as limitations to strengthen your abilities and creativity. I’ll leave you here some other articles that can give you more ideas:

Feel free to share any other creative photography exercises in the comments. And, as always, we love to see your images, so try some of these techniques, and share your images below.

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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.