Photographer's Notebook

A Photographer’s Notebook [Nurture Photography]

With the New Year most definitely underway, we’ve all been starting afresh on the various photography projects we had planned for the year. Some days I find my head swimming with great ideas and original concepts for creative photographs, other days I can’t seem to think clearly at all. Of course, on the good days there’s just not enough time, my head is so full of these ideas that I can’t possibly remember them all or get them all started in one day.

I’ve been prone to keeping my notes on scraps of paper strewn about the apartment, however this year I decided to invest in a small notebook to keep all of my ideas together. I can write directly in the notebook and I can also use it to keep my scraps of paper in so that they don’t get lost and contribute to the clutter in my apartment.

Why Should you Keep a Photography Notebook?

Before digital cameras, photographers would keep notebooks to help them remember the various settings that they used for each exposure on a roll of film. They could develop the film and then go back to compare their notes with the outcome, deciding which settings worked, which did not and how they could either emulate the results in another shoot or what they should change for next time. With digital photography, we only have to look at our exif data on the computer to reveal our settings for each photograph, so why should we still keep a photography notebook?

It is still important that we have somewhere to make notes and record reminders. I prefer using a paper notebook because that’s how I work best, I enjoy writing by hand and having something physical to refer to, but you could keep notes on your smartphone using an app or any other electronic device you choose… although I find it’s best to use something that you can carry with you at all times. The notebooks I like to use have plain paper as opposed to ruled lines. I prefer this so that I have space to make drawings and sketches of ideas if I need to and so that I have room to make notes on previous ideas. If you go for a paper notebook, choose something sturdy as you will be using it and carrying it around often.

Photographer's Notebook, creative photography ideas, photography notebook

Photographer's Notebook, creative photography ideas, photography notebook

Notebook. No photographer should be without one!

– Ansel Adams

Having a notebook also means that you have something to refer back to when feeling uninspired. Hopefully the wonderful ideas you recorded on previous days will serve to inspire you on days when you may be feeling less creative.

What to Write in your Photography Notebook

Anything you like.

Use your notebook to keep track of those elusive concept ideas that you come up with in the dead of night, just as you begin to fall asleep. Ideas seem to strike at the most inopportune of times, I’ll find myself scribbling in my notebook while I’m waiting outside my son’s school for him to finish for the day, as I’m out working/dog walking, or as I’m brewing the morning’s coffee.

You can use your notebook to make a note of awesome locations you might see when you’re out without your camera, or perhaps in a car or on public transport and unable to stop. Locations that might work better at a different time of day, or a different season. Make notes and come back to them.

You can keep magazine clippings in your notebook to inspire you. Posing ideas from fashion magazines, interesting compositions, lighting or just generally inspirational images. Attach them to your pages and write notes alongside them.

As you’re editing, if you find an image that didn’t quite work but you’d still like to try and re-take it you can make a note of it. The location, why you think it didn’t work out the first time, ideas to try next time.

Keep notes of things you learn while reading or watching instructional videos and might like to try out yourself. You could be learning to use artificial lighting for the first time, use your notebook to sketch out lighting setups or to write ideas.

 Photographer's Notebook, creative photography ideas, photography notebook


Photographer's Notebook, creative photography ideas, photography notebook

Eventually, your photography notebook will become almost like a journal of your art and thought processes. These notebooks are good to hold onto, as you would a regular journal, to look back on. You might find yourself inspired years later by an idea you scribbled down hurriedly while standing in line to pay for your groceries.

The Nurture Photography Winter 2013 Photo Challenge

Use your photography notebook to keep a record of ideas for various photo challenges throughout the year. Write down lists of prompts, refer back to them and scribble down thoughts on each. I’ve been using my notebook not only for prompt ideas, but also to write down any ideas I might have for the tips and tutorials I’m going to be writing for the duration of the Nurture Photography Challenge.

Nurture Photography, Winter photo challenge prompts

This week, in celebration of the upcoming Nurture Photography Winter Challenge Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud has some awesome free storyboard templates for you. Use them during the photo challenge to creatively display your photos for each of the prompts!

The Photo Challenge begins on Friday February 1st at 9am CST
We look forward to seeing you there!

Nurture Photography Winter 2013


  1. very awesome. methinks i should do something like this as well. i find myself going back and looking at settings on old photos to get the same “look” with a new shot but can’t do that when i’m out in the world so this might be a good idea 🙂
    Jenny´s last post ..Being a better blogger

    • Thanks Jenny, yes it’s a great way to keep track of all of those little notes you might need when you’re out and about!

  2. Pingback: 3 FREE Storyboard Templates {Nurture Photography} | Live and Love...Out Loud

  3. Karly

    Love the idea! Also, where did you get the purple purse from the first picture! 🙂

    • Hi Karly, the purse is more of a maroon colour in person. I actually bought it about 7 or 8 years ago, it’s a vintage piece from a thrift store near to where I used to live in England.

  4. Pingback: 12 Innovative Digital photography Concepts

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