What is creative photography? Well if we accept that all photographs are taken with the objective of stirring emotion & that emotion can be stimulated in many ways, a successful creative photograph is one that will inevitably stir emotion in the viewer.

To create can be defined as to appoint to new rank or position, a creative image is one that stimulates the mind & eye by being both imaginative & original.

In my very early days in photography I came across a most poignant statement that made an everlasting impression on me …  “if its been done before, then why bother?”

Beetle in Natural Habitat

Late afternoon, quite warm light. Low viewpoint, 17mm lens with polarizing filter.

The green tiles provided an excellent backdrop for the red car.


Judges & selectors get bored seeing the same old trite subjects appearing time after time & copies of the work of others cannot retain, for ever, the interest of the viewer. Someone who copies someone else’s work then credits it with the same value is simply deluding themselves. When something different appears interest levels increase & the chances of success are also increased.

So originality is one of the key factors in creative photography. In fact originality & imagination are a powerful combination & the key to success in many walks of life.

Photography like all forms of visual art does not have rules but composition does have a number of guidelines that can be understood, considered & applied or not as the case may be. Successful pictures are usually simple pictures, by that I mean ones where the message is clear & unambiguous. Where distractions have been eliminated in order to let the main subject dominate. 

Creative photography is where the individual has seen a picture & by the careful use of the tools & technique’s at their disposal has made an image that communicates what the photographer intended. Simple things like choice of focal length of lens, aperture of lens, viewpoint, shutter speed, choice of filter, all play an important part in the creation of successful pictures.


A main centre of interest is vitally important, all good photographs have one. It can be large or small in the frame but as long as it contrasts with its surroundings it will demand attention. All other elements in the picture will appear of secondary interest when compared to it.


Hot Foot

Midday with high overhead sun. The lighting was ideal for the subject & enhanced the repetition of the steps.


Contrast itself is another very important consideration. It comes in many shapes & forms, light & dark, large & small, rough & smooth, near & far, straight & curved, sharp & unsharp, etc & colours that contrast or harmonise. The use of lens aperture to control sharp/unsharp is a very powerful tool at our disposal. Working near open aperture, & carefully focussing on the main subject to throw the rest of the scene out of focus can produce eye-catching results.

Dead Vlei

Namibia - 8.30am, the site of a long dead forest of acacia trees.

The small figure provided an ideal foil for the dead tree with the dune soaring to the heavens in the background.


Balance is another factor to take into account; it can be viewed in terms of tones, shapes or colours but more important is how the overall composition feels. In general a good measure is, if it feels right then it is right!


Lines play an important part in the design of pictures; they can dictate the way in which we view pictures. Ideally they can lead the eye to the main centre of interest.

The positioning within the frame of this centre of interest influences the mood of the picture.  Placing a subject centrally can create a peaceful evenly balanced feel to the picture. A subject placed nearer an edge or corner takes on a more dynamic role in the frame. Nothing is right or wrong what suits the subject & scene is all-important & goes back to “what feels right is right”.



Viewpoint is another important factor; the temptation to take all our shots at standing eye level should be resisted. The eagle or worms eye viewpoint can totally change a pictures impact & are definitely worth trying. I believe it is important to study a subject from different points of view along with the lighting changes that occur when viewpoint is moved you may be surprised by the range of pictures that can result from such a simple project.


My understanding of art is where an image is created with the purpose of stirring emotion. The most important part of any visual art, & photography is no exception, is what does the finished article communicate to the viewer. In photography that is the bottom line measure of the success or failure of a picture. If it communicates nothing, although it may be technically excellent, it will not enjoy a great deal of success.

The Bare Essentials

Hanging up to dry on the bedroom balcony, they looked like nothing until backlit by the setting sun. 90mm lens at open aperture.


The story telling element of the picture is vital if it is to be appreciated by others.

 It is said that we all see things differently & I for one am quite prepared to believe that & find it fascinating that two people at the same place & time can produce totally different photographs. A different “seeing eye” & imagination being applied to create individual images can only explain this. The need to “follow the leaders tripod marks” should, in my opinion, be frowned upon. That approach may produce technically competent pictures but they are only a copy of someone else’s work, their idea & design, & by repetition quickly become very boring. 


Imagination & originality tempered by easy to learn technique & compositional guidelines can provide the way to exciting pictures with a difference.

A good philosophy to adopt is to keep pictures simple, eliminate distractions by using the tools & techniques at our disposal, in order to let the main subject dominate. Let originality & imagination be your guide & remember “it its been done before, then why bother?”




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