Photography Now (With Room for Writing)


Year’s end, fresh motivation. Looking for a starting point, or some inspiration for your artistic work? We’ve assembled a list of prompts for creative encouragement.
Although this post’s exercises were written with photographers in mind, writers can make use of them, too: walk and collect words, modify existing text, focus on faces or colors or a broken circle, etc. Happy making!

  • Create 10 photo images using something other than a smartphone (e.g., photocopier, film camera, scanner, digital or film video stills, digital camera, GoPro, drone camera).
  • Give yourself an hour or more to walk around an urban or commercial part of town. Photograph as many individual words, numbers, and symbols as possible. Arrange images (either digitally or printed) to tell a story.
  • Photograph movement. You can either photograph 10 different things moving, or one thing moving in 10 different ways. Experiment with your camera settingsmany smartphones have interesting ways of handling movement. Filters can be applied too, afterward. You might vary photographing a thing (person, animal) moving, with moving yourself or your camera.
  • Use existing photo prints (traditional, inkjet, or color copier prints) as a starting point. Then add another color in any medium (ie. red paint, blue ink), to change the feel/story/message of the original.
  • Photograph 5-10 faces, and treat the photos (either in-camera with filters or post-camera) in a way that unifies the images.
  • Find and photograph circular objects (either in-situ or gathered). Using your camera or phone’s viewfinder, cut off part of the circle to create an incomplete story or sense of mystery. Make 10 to 20 images. Photos can be grouped or stand alone, telling one cohesive story or separate stories.
  • Amass a collection of objectsyour own personal cabinet of curiositiesusing your camera. You can photograph an existing collection or walk around your neighborhood or the forest or along the riverbank to assemble your collection. Think about how you treat the images (filters, cropping etc.) and how that plays into either the diversity and/or cohesiveness of your collected things.
  • Experiment with constants and variables. Choose one interesting object to photograph and 10 to 25 random objects (or places). Photograph each separate object juxtaposed with a constant (single interesting object) to form a body of images. Think about and experiment with composition, form, balance, rhythm, and content as you photograph. If you find that one particular random object is more interesting than others (either visually or in meaning) feel free to alter the randomly chosen things to create a varied yet consistent body of images.
  • Choose one object or person. Photograph the object or person from 10 to 20 different anglesdo not move the object and, if photographing a person, ask that they not move. Incorporate common and uncommon perspectives as you take the images. You may want to shoot more than 20 images and select the most interesting/unique views. Consider how you crop (or choose not to crop) each image. Take into consideration how you might display the photos together (e.g., side by side, combined in a single composition, in a book, layered physically or via Photoshop).
  • Choose one color to photograph. Take as many photos as you can within a designated time period (2 hours, for example), limiting your images as much as possible to that single color. Crop photos, either in-camera, with post-camera software, or manually (print and cut images). Limit images as closely as you can to a single hue (variations in value due to shadows, lighting, etc. are okay—consider how much variety and/or consistency you desire in your final output). Print images and create a single composition or other arrangement paying attention to how the final assemblage works with the color’s properties, such as evoked emotion or cultural association for example.

Did you miss earlier prompts in this series? Here they are.
Like what you’ve created? Looking for a market? Check out Discover. If you have feedback, or ideas for prompts, please get in touch.
[Photograph: ‘One Seed’ by Submittable team member Kelly Hart]

Submittable Creative Team