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Home > The Beauty of Creative Constraints in Photography
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Too many times do I hear that students become overwhelmed with the amount of equipment that is out there.

The Beauty of Creative Constraints in Photography

They cannot find a style. They have 4/5 lenses in their bag; they are not sure what camera to use and why they are using it; they invest in all different types of lighting equipment, which sits there waiting to be used.

My advice is always less is more and use the idea of creative constraints. Firstly, have a feel of the camera body in your hand. Does it feel comfortable? Do you like the look of it? Does it inspire you to go out and photograph?

From time to time, we all have a look at what equipment we don’t have, eager to know what camera was used for a specific image and, granted, this is important to understand what effect different lenses can have on an image. We then need to find our style and there’s no better way to do this than to limit ourselves.

Technique 1:

Use only one focal length

See what other constraints you can create for yourself, like only shooting one type of subject matter, or focusing only on one project. Do this for a week or a month at a time, and you’ll be pushing yourself in a specific area that would have otherwise been left unexplored.

Technique 2:

Use only black and white

This creative constraint is a special one in that it allows you to explore the tonal qualities of light in a way that just isn’t possible with colour photography, while awarding you the opportunity of better understanding and appreciating the huge wealth of magnificent black and white photography that is already out there.

Technique 3:

Use only our Smart phone

But some people say: “Oh, but a smartphone isn’t a ‘real’ camera and it can’t do half the things of a real camera. It has terrible low ISO capability, you can’t print it big, and it isn’t as responsive as the real thing.”

But these limitations can actually help our creativity. If your smartphone has poor image quality, then it forces you to only shoot in good light. If your smartphone has a slow autofocus, you can focus on just shooting people who aren’t moving. If you feel you can’t capture light in the way you would wish, you have to focus on other aspects of photography – composition, a moment, an expression, a theme, a narrative.

Creative constraints force you to explore the techniques that are available to you.

Creative constraints are a wonderful way to develop your technique and understanding of the art of photography. If you’re interested in growing as a photographer, or perhaps you’d just like a taster workshop, contact our staff today.

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