Every now and then, we all experience some sort of creative low point. We can feel stuck, limited, we have trouble coming up with new ideas or are just unable to see the world in a creative way.
If you’re anything like me, you can also find yourself sinking into familiarity. You have a favourite lens and you use it for almost everything. There’s nothing exactly wrong with this, different lenses have different uses and they are each better at capturing a certain style. It does mean, though, that your eyes are used to seeing things in a certain way through the lens that you use the most.
Using Creative Lenses to See Differently
If you do find yourself stuck for inspiration, you can try changing the lens you would usually use. If you usually use prime lenses, try a zoom. If you prefer wide angles, see what you can do differently with longer focal lengths. It might feel strange at first, if you switch from a long focal length to a wide angle you might not know what to do with all of that extra space. Similarly if you switch from a zoom lens to a prime you may find yourself feeling restricted. But it’s in that place, where you find yourself having to do a little problem solving, that your creativity can flourish.
By using a lens that is different to one you would usually use, you are forced to think about the way in which you see or compose a photograph.
You can even take this a step further and try using a lens that is designed to make you think or see differently. Have you ever thought about using a FishEye Lens? A Tilt Shift, or a Lensbaby? Each of these types of lenses distorts reality in some way, forcing us to change our way of thinking when we are composing photographs while using them.
I recently caught the train from my neighbourhood to downtown Chicago, camera packed in my bag and ready to go. Usually when I go downtown to shoot I just pack my wide angle or my super wide. That way I know what I want and I know exactly what to expect.
This time I took the lensbaby with me. I’ve been using it to shoot for a few weeks now and I feel as though I’ve mostly worked my way through the slight learning curve that comes with it. I’ve never used it to shoot urban architecture though, it was something I’ve been meaning to do since the lens arrived.
I ended up over-shooting a lot more than usual, to be honest a lot of the photographs I took were not useable because I was not used to using this lens for this particular type of photography. But practice (and also failure) is an important part of learning and a hugely important component of creativity.
Looking at my surroundings through a creative lens as opposed to my usual wide angle opened up an entirely different world to me. The focal length (35mm) of this particular lens was familiar to me, it is on the longer end of the focal length of the wide angles I usually like to use. But the blur and distortion meant that I had to really slow down and think differently about how I was framing my shot. I was very happy to be thinking more creatively and coming up with some new ideas for shots based on the use of a creative lens.
There are, of course, other ways that you can use your existing lenses creatively. Head over to Live and Love Out Loud today where Kristi has a tutorial on creating a tilt-shift effect.
Have you ever used creative lenses? Did you enjoy the challenge of learning how to use them?