Part 1 – What is Creative Photography?

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Let’s face it… when you talk about creative photography, the field is wide open. Some may consider an abstract out-of-focus photo as being creative, while others may consider it to just another excuse to call a bad photo “creative”. So, before we begin, we should take some time to talk about – What is creative photography?

The following is my definition of creative photography:

Creative photography contains an extra element (or elements) that are intentionally used to improve the photo from its original state. 

This definition contains two important aspect that differentiates creative photography from everyday photography.

Extra Elements – Extra Element(s) lie outside the normal photographic process and are open to interpretation. They can involve a simple workflow that a photographer used to capture that unique look of a photo. Or they can be a complex post-processing technique that was used to bring out the mood and textures in an image. The key here is that the extra element has to be outside of the normal photography workflow.

Intent – The use of these extra elements should be intentional. The lack of photography skills does not automatically give a photographer a creative eye… it only makes the photographer inexperienced or ineffective. Similarly, just getting the exposure perfect in the camera does not make a creative photo; however, intentionally underexposing for purposing of creating a dark, moody image does make it creative.

Mana Islands, Fiji

Mana Islands, Fiji

The composition and exposure of the image (above) from my recent trip to Fiji is perfect, but I would not categorize it as a creative photo. Why? Because I did not use anything outside my normal photography workflow to capture the image. I relied on the location and light to capture this landscape photo at the right time and used my post-processing skills to bring out details and colors in the image.

Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

Now compare it with the shot of a sea shell from the same trip. This photo was taken in harsh midday light, with a shallow DOF, and with a sea shell that was placed using the rule of the thirds. The purpose of this image was to make the viewers dream about gorgeous blue skies day on a beautiful island.

I will be the first to admit that not all of you will agree with my definition of creative photography, but this definition does give us some way to differentiate creative and non-creative aspects of photography.

So… the next question is how to go about being creative? Stay tuned for Part II – What is Creative Photography?

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
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