How to Boost Your Creativity; Tip Two

Lake Crescent Olympic National ParkLake Crescent Olympic National Park #53926

How to Boost Your Creativity; Tip Two

In my last post of How to Boost Your Creativity I spoke of photo sharing websites, this post I’m going to talk a little about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Once again I’m addressing primarily landscape and nature photographers, although these tips will work for anyone in a creative rut.

Today’s tip is probably the most important in helping you boost your creativity, it’s also one of the easiest to do and nearly guaranteed to bring quick results, or at least get you thinking a little different.

Tip #2: Look Beyond Your Genre If you limit your online and print media exposure to magazines like Landscape Photography Outdoor Photography Nature’s Best and such you’re going to end up with a severely myopic view of the natural world and what it should look like, and consequently you won’t experience much creative growth.

To truly get inspired to create something new you must look beyond the cozy cocooned genre of landscapes and nature.

My first suggestion is to look to the commercial photography field for a change in scenery. For quite a long time commercial assignment photography was looked on as a dull unimaginative field where photographers only recorded on film what the art director and or ad agency dictated to them. Over the years commercial photography has grown in leaps and bounds creatively and many photographers have blurred the line between commercial and true fine art. One example is my current favorite photographer, Colin Homes. His excellent work has earned him a thriving business in both the fine art market and commercial photography.

One of my longtime favorites for creative inspiration is Communication Arts. CA has an extensive website with resources for illustrators photographers and designers and publish lavishly produced annuals for these and other fields in the commercial genre. If you enroll for a subscription make sure it includes the printed versions of the annuals. The photography side of CA often shows a surprising number of photographers that are nearly unknown in the landscape photo sharing circles that create astonishingly fresh images.

Another source I like to check out on a regular basis is A Photo Editor (APE). This site, built by Rob Haggart a former photo editor for several large magazines, showcases some of the more creative photographers working in both commercial assignment and fine art fields. Another aspect of this site I love is the regular sidebar feature of promotional mailers sent to Rob for review, lots of good stuff there.

While up to this point I focused on sources for inspiration in the commercial side of photography, it is also important to look to other segments such as editorial and traditional fine art. If you are strictly creating in color it would be a sore mistake to ignore what’s going on in the black and white world. Successful monochrome images utilize a different way of seeing that may not be apparent to those working in color, and some of those techniques are easily transferable.

A few more sources I like that may help I’ve you a creative boost are Photographer’s Forum Magazine and LENSCRATCH, the later of which will most definitely challenge your way of seeing the world. There are many more sources than those mentioned in this post in which you can check out with a little searching.

So in conclusion if you want to boost your creativity try and look to different genres for inspiration! See you next time.



How to Boost Your Creativity; Tip One

Isle of Skye ScotlandIsle of Skye Scotland #11807

How to Boost Your Creativity; Tip One

Everyone in the wide field of the Arts suffers from creative block from time to time, from writers and musicians to painters and photographers. No one is immune and these periods can be very frustrating and occasionally depressing. Sometimes though only a small change of environment or way of looking at things is needed to get those juices flowing again.

In this and subsequent articles I’m going to address some ways photographers, specifically in the landscape and nature genre, can find inspiration to be more creative so their individual vision can shine through. Although I’ve been photographing quite a long time and have a background in the arts I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. These are just some tips and pointers I’ve learned throughout the years.

Let’s start with the basics. What is creativity? Here is one definition:

creativity |ˌkrē-āˈtivitēnoun   The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Taking this definition in a strict sense is pretty tough. Yes, we all have an imagination, some bigger than others, but can we pull truly original ideas and concepts out of it on a regular basis? Hopefully some of these tips will give it a nudge in the right direction.

Tip #1: Use Online Photo Sharing Sites With Caution While sites like 500px Flickr and Google+ can at times be a wonderful source of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, be warned they can also be  an addictive trap that can stifle your creativity. Online photo sharing sites host a wide variety of talent, from photographers just beginning and those interested only in technical aspects, to advanced professionals and artists trying to push the boundaries of the art.

I mostly like to browse through some of these sites in researching locations I may be visiting sometime in the future. It helps give me an idea of the photographic potential of an area. Unfortunately though I found that I rarely came away from these sites creatively inspired, there just isn’t much originality here.

Spend even a short amount of time browsing through posted photos on these sites and you’ll begin to see a follow the leader mentality, both in locations visited and the trend of the day style of processing used in the final image. One of the worst aspects of these sites, in my opinion, is that some have devolved into competitive venues where it is more important to accumulate Likes and Faves than it is to post creative content.

On the other hand I’ve found more inspiration and variety of talent on Facebook, not what I consider a strictly photo sharing site. There are a several of excellent photographers I follow on Facebook whose images never disappoint me and always inspire me to think different. 

So yes online photo sharing sites can be a good source of inspiration for your creative self but make sure it is only one of many tools in your kit, and don’t get sidetracked into a race to keep up with the next guy.



Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National Park

Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkLake McDonald, Glacier National Park  #22779
For most people Glacier National Park in Montana is a fabulous destination for hiking, photography, and family vacations.  But as summer ends and the crowds disappear the park gets ready to put on another show. Autumn here is a season that is not to be missed. The colors are just as good as many other popular destinations like the Colorado Rockies and the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. And as a bonus there are two separate displays of color a couple weeks apart. The first comes in late September or early October and the second display arrives in mid to late October.

Going to the Sun Road Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkGoing to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park  #20722

The first color show is the aspens turning gold in the lower elevations and the plants of the meadows changing at higher elevations. Some of the most spectacular displays of golden aspens is found along the Eastern slopes of the park, and extend into the prairies. From Many Glacier all the way up to and including Waterton National Park in Alberta there are countless groves of aspens. The two best spots are between Many Glacier and St. Mary.  Then further north along the Chief Mountain Highway towards Babb. Be forewarned though, all these locations are subject to very high winds. Aspen leaves are often stripped from the trees before they can even turn color. A couple of years ago I arrived in early October at what I thought would be peak color, however trees were still in summer green. A few days later snow storms settled in to blanket the entire park in an early winter, never giving the trees to put on a show. It’s always best to contact the visitors center for current conditions before heading out.

Aspens along Saint Mary Lake Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkAspens along Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park  #21052

The second show of color comes on the western half of the park from the stands of Western Larch (Larix occidentalis). Not to be confused with the Alpine or Lyall’s Larch (Larix lyallii), which are found at higher elevations. These are conifers that shed their needles every fall after they turn a brilliant golden color. Photographing Larches is a bit easier than the aspens. Their color change is more predictable and the color lasts longer too. In Glacier Park the best places to find dense stands of these trees is along the southern border of the park along Highway 2 west of Marias Pass. Other good locations are along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western border of the park. Camas Road is also worth checking out. At the same time the Larches are at their peak the Cottonwoods are also turning color. One of the best places for these deciduous trees is along the shores of Lake McDonald. Beautiful photos can also be made during this time along McDonald creek where the leaves sprinkle the colorfully eroded rocks along the waters edge.

Larch Forest Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkWestern Larch (Larix occidentalis)  #22000

McDonald Creek Valley Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkMcDonald Creek Valley, Glacier National Park  #20346
Another bonus to visiting this time of year is that the Going to the Sun Road may be closed. The absence of cars allows you to leisurely walk along the road. You can photograph scenes that were not possible when the road is open. If you’re lucky there will be some fresh snow higher up on the mountains.  This will add a dramatic element to the fall color. If all this isn’t enough to keep you busy don’t forget this is also prime time to photograph Elk during the annual rut. They make a great evening serenade while your reviewing your days work in an empty campground.
Maple Leaf Glacier National Park Photographing Fall Color in Glacier National ParkLeaf on rocks Glacier National Park  #20150