I often like to use props to make photographs. One of my favorite props to use is images. Photographing other images, in many cases, photographing other photographs, adds layers of complexity and offers many poetic opportunities. Images ask you to look and to look in certain ways. Two images ask you to look and look again and to look in multiple ways. I find this extremely stimulating. Making images with other images in them can be a fantastic creative wellspring.

Here’s a selection of images with postcards in them that I made during my 2011 Iceland workshop.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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For a time, I swore off making photographs that were like postcards. I was looking for something else then. I was looking for my own unique approach to making images. My thinking was that if I took a vow of abstinence from what I knew I wasn’t looking for, I’d eventually find what I was looking for. Eventually, I did.

After some time, I reconsidered this aversion to making postcard-like images. I started making them, again. Making postcards is excellent practice. You have to be fairly competent to make good postcards. Postcards survey a subject, tell a story, offer human interest, present strong color, and are composed of relatively strong graphic structures. Sometimes, postcards make strong emotional appeals. When you think about it, that’s a pretty tall order.

Postcards try to do it all – and do it all competently. It’s interesting to note that to transcend postcards, all you need to do is emphasize one of these qualities over the others and do that one thing excellently. Making postcards is great practice. To make good postcards you have to understand them clearly. To transcend them, you have to know the difference between them and what you’re really looking for.

Below is a selection of iPhone postcards from my 2011 Iceland workshop.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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One of the first things I do when I arrive at a new location is look at postcards made in the area. Postcards give me a quick survey of the highlights of the region and the classic visual approaches that many other photographers have used to make images there. Postcards help me decide where to go and what to look for. Postcards also present me with a great challenge – transcend this.  Postcards help me up my game.

Here’s a selection of postcards I collected during my 2011 Iceland workshop.

3 out of 6 of them are by Ragnar Th Sigurdsson.

Find out about my 2012 Iceland digital photography workshop here.

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My assistant, Charles Adams, spent this years Maine Fall Foliage Workshop photographing with the iPhone. Below he talks about his experience.

“Making images with an iPhone can be a terrific creative exercise. If you regularly shoot with a DSLR, the iPhone can simplify things and offer a new experience. I found this to be the case during this years fall foliage workshop. I left my Canon in the car along with all of the photographic requirements and responsibilities that I usually attach to it. It was a freeing experience. Suddenly the pressure to make the best photographs of my life was no longer there. I was free to play.

Being able to process your images seconds after shooting them is also key to the iPhone experience. The many apps available make it possible to shoot, edit, share, and get feedback before even getting back in the car. In my case, apps had a direct effect on which pictures I chose to make. I knew I was going to apply water color and oil painting filters to my images, so I tried to shoot accordingly. I set out to find good compositions with strong “bones.” “Bones” meaning solid structure that could benefit from the addition of dramatic effects.

The resulting images were fun to create. Changing the tools you use to make your images can offer new insights into your own photography. I strongly recommend allowing yourself to play.”

Visit Charles’ website here.

Find out about my digital photography workshops here.

SCAMPER

April 8, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

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SCAMPER

Having trouble coming up with new ideas? Get thousands of ideas with one word. Try SCAMPER. In 1939 advertising executive Alex Osborn, “the father of brainstorming”, first proposed a set of nine strategies for creative thinking, seven of which were later rearranged by Bob Eberle into the mnemonic SCAMPER.

S   Substitute

C   Combine

A   Adapt

M   Modify

P   Put to Other Uses

E   Eliminate

R   Rearrange

What are the other two missing words?

Minify, which I like to think of as expand and contract or put another way reduce and enlarge.

Reverse, which I think is the most powerful tool of all. It’s typified by the 180 degree rule. Do the opposite.

The underlying assumption with SCAMPER is that new ideas are based on old ones. This may not always be the case, but often it is. To use SCAMPER, you have to start with something.

You can use SCAMPER as a list of questions that can be used to generate new ideas. Simply ask, “Can I ____ something?” inserting the words SCAMPER represents one at a time. Next, you might try using two words at a time. Later try three. Classically, the best solutions are the simplest, but not always.

Find over 20 creativity tips here.

Learn more in my workshops.

Atmospheric FX

June 11, 2009 | Leave a Comment |



Photographers learn how to make the most of weather.

Atmospheric FX will teach you how to make weather.

Find streamed content at Kelby Training here.

Find enhanced content on the Acme Educational DVD here.

Find ebooks here.

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Identify and Isolate the Variables

In any situation, it helps to know what elements you’re dealing with and what each of those elements contributes to the mix. With that information you can get results you desire more predictably and exert more precise control over the process. This idea is routinely applied in scientific fields where the benefits are clear for all to see. Not solely applicable to areas that are highly technical, it is equally applicable in any creative endeavor. Being analytical is one mode (to be listed among others) of creativity. The art is in knowing when to apply it, not being limited to using it exclusively or avoiding it altogether.

Find more Creativity resources here.

Stimulate your creativity in my workshops.

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Look at Things from Many Perspectives

One of the hallmarks of creativity is the ability to look at things from many perspectives, both conventional and unconventional. Often taking a different tack when engaging a problem reveals dimensions, relationships, insights, and solutions that might otherwise remain hidden. If you’re looking for something new, in order to find it, you have to look in new ways. Spend a little time exploring your options so you can be sure you devote yourself to the best approach available.

Find more Creativity resources here.

Stimulate your creativity in my workshops.

Put It In Writing

May 15, 2009 | 1 Comment |

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Put It In Writing

Writing helps clarify thought. Find the words to describe your images and you’ll not only be able to make your work clearer to others, you’ll understand it better yourself. Use one word, one phrase, one sentence, one paragraph, and one page. This sounds simpler than it is. Take the time you need to find the right words. The next time you find yourself called upon to describe your work, you’ll have the words to do so at the tip of your tongue.

Find more Creativity resources here.

Stimulate your creativity in my workshops.

Identify the Core

May 14, 2009 | 1 Comment |



Identify the Core

“If you had to eliminate all of your images save one, which one image would you keep?” This is a question I frequently ask my students and myself. It’s not something I recommend you actually do, but answering the question, hard as it is, is always very revealing. Identifying one image that most embodies your vision helps clarify your visual identity. List the strengths of this image. It’s likely these strengths will be present in a majority of your work. These core strengths often provide a foundation you can rely upon and develop further to make your work even stronger. These qualities can also be used to identify your particular passions and concerns. After you identify the image, ask yourself why you chose it. Did you choose an image because it fits other people’s criteria of success? Did you choose an image that has a particular relevance to your personal history? Did you choose an image that evokes a powerful emotion? Did you choose an image that symbolically represents something important to you? Strike up a dialog with your work. You’ll get to know your work and yourself even better.

Find more Creativity resources here.

Stimulate your creativity in my workshops.


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