We’re currently facing challenges that most of us haven’t faced before. How do you keep photographing when you can’t visit interesting locations or meet your models? Here are some ideas for you to exercise your photographic muscles during this time of isolation.
According to where you live, you may be more or less constrained regarding your travel distances. Maybe the problem is not even reaching an adventurous place but you can’t even get to your studio. Whichever is your case, these ideas are meant for you to keep photographing with minimum resources.
If you happen to be in insolation and unable to reach your equipment, maybe it’s time for you to go into mobile phone photography, if you haven’t done so already. Smartphones today have multiple cameras, a wide range of focal lengths and super-high resolution. This is not to say that you can’t do great things with lower-range devices.
The device itself is only one part of the equation, then you can go into the huge variety of apps you’ll find on the market. There’s one for every need and budget. Firstly, you can use a camera app to control the settings of the camera, and then other ones for post-production.
In this example, you see the original photo on the left made with a very basic (and old) device.
The middle image is a version processed for Instagram. I used ‘A Color Story’; an app that has some basic retouching tools, sets of filters constantly updating according to the trends, and a grid to schedule your feed.
In the image on the right, I used the Photoshop app for normal post-production as I would have done on my computer. I cropped and fixed the perspective, and also did some fine-tuning of the exposure. You can sync it up with your Adobe CC account or you can use a lighter version for free if you are not subscribed.
If you’re housebound and you live alone, you can use yourself as a subject.
If you’re a portrait photographer, this can keep you going while gaining insight into what it feels like to be on the other side of the lens. However, if you’re not used to doing portraits, this is your chance to experiment with new types of photography. If you’re shy, you can go abstract or conceptual; so no excuses – keep photographing!
I decided to go with a creative collage.
You don’t have a problem getting models? Still, these times are giving everybody the extra push into boosting their online presence. A self-portrait may be just the thing you need to build your brand identity.
Photography is not just about the shooting, it starts with the idea and planning. Then it continues during development and post-production.
So, to keep photographing, you can also work on the other steps in the process. If you have your hard drive with you, or have your work in the cloud, use this time to dive into your old photographs to do any of these exercises:
- Catch up with all the editing, cleaning and back-ups that you just haven’t had the time to do until now.
- Do a self-reflection exercise by reviewing your work. There’s a lot that you can learn and improve while looking at the evolution of your projects and techniques. Find your style and what drives you. If it helps, start writing down your thoughts.
- Save an old photo. We all have one (or more) photos that didn’t really come together in-camera, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to delete. Maybe you have some new skills that can improve it? Perhaps you just have a new take on it that you didn’t see before? Maybe it still won’t be great, but it will surely serve as practice.
Use this time to improve and experiment with your digital darkroom skills by processing old files.
Another choice is to download images from the web and practice on them. If you’re not buying them from a stock photo website, then remember to keep an eye on the copyright so that you’re not breaking any laws. Some good free stock sites are Unsplash and .
For inspiration, you can check out many of the DPS tutorials on basic and creative post-processing.
I’ve always been a fan of DIY even when I’m not facing any specific limitations. I think that doing things yourself can make you fully understand how they work. Anyway, regardless of one’s philosophy, now we’re facing some difficulties in mobility, availability, and maybe even budget.
If you haven’t done it yet, it’s time for you to try some DIY. Luckily here at DPS, you can find many tutorials on the subject.
If you’re limited in lightning you can try:
Creating Effective DIY Studio Lighting with Household Items.
DIY Flash and Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers.
If you’re missing your accessories:
How to Use Ordinary Items to Make DIY Photo Filters.
How to Make a DIY Lens Hood to Eliminate Lens Flare.
If you’re lacking props and backgrounds:
DIY Food Photography Props on a Budget.
DIY Lighting and Background Accessories for the Budget Conscious Photographer.
If you just want to have fun and try something new:
DIY: How to Create a Coffee-Stained Texture for Aging Images in Photoshop.
DIY Photography: How to Make Your Own DIY Lightstick for Cool Photos.
Being isolated doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing the things you love. Keep in mind that you’re not alone. Share in the comments section, your exercises and ideas so we can support each other as a community of photographers. And, also share any of your images as a result of trying any of these exercises. We’d love to see them.