I often like to photograph things because things look different photographed!
1. Flash vs no flash?
Let me give you an example. Here is a photo I shot on JPEG on RICOH GR II, positive film preset, max contrast and saturation, with -1 exposure compensation. Then with some further processing in Lightroom (increased blacks and contrast):
Then the same exact photo (and settings) except I shot it with a flash. I processed the photo similarly. Note how different it looks:
To me, it is incredible that the photo looks so different!
This is why I love shooting with a flash: I’m always curious how the flash transforms the photograph.
2. Macro mode
Another fun thing:
What do things look like photographed in macro mode?
For example my lovely espresso in macro mode. I never notice these lovely ‘micro’ bubbles.
Thus photography is great, because the camera becomes ‘vision augmentation‘ — I see MORE things with the camera. Because generally speaking, nobody holds an espresso that close to your face.
3. Composition experiments
Whenever I see a scene, I always try to ‘work the scene‘– experimenting with different compositions. Sometimes the photo has more people in the foreground; sometimes the compositions are more simple with fewer elements.
4. Subject looking in different directions
What makes a better composition — with your subject looking down, or in a different direction? This is why it is good to ‘linger‘; to wait for your subject to move, and to ‘work the scene’, in order to keep shooting, to later choose a better composition:
I think the second photo is stronger, as there is more drama of the guy looking to the right of the frame.
Which photo works best of this Chuck Close portrait of Bill Clinton:
- Super far
- Super close
- Hyper close?
This is why it is good to ‘work the scene’ of the same at different distances, because different distances change the effect of the image.
6. Variations of the same visual motif
If I see an interesting visual motif (like this red cup of coffee decal), I like to ‘work the scene’ to figure out which subject best complements this visual element:
7. Different variations of selfies
Whenever I want to shoot a selfie, I always shoot several images of my selfie, and later choose the photo I best prefer.
- Shoot different compositions of your selfie (place your camera to cover up your face in different variations)
- Frame your scene differently
- Shoot some selfies with a flash, some without a flash
8. Lots of photos of your food
Shoot more photos of your food! I love Ethiopian food (beef tibs, lamb stew).
Make photos of your partner, then photos of your plate, then macro/flash photos of your food.
To me, I love photographing my food because it conjures and sparks lovely memories associated with those meals, with people I love and care about (Cindy).
9. Photos in uncommon places
Shoot in uncommon places, like on a plane. I’m surprised how few photos are shot inside a plane (besides photos looking out of your window):
For example I’m not used to seeing photos of people cramped inside an airplane. This is the benefit of having my RICOH GR II in my pocket with ERIC KIM Wrist Strap (I can quickly pull out my camera, and shoot interesting photos in unusual situations).
For example an interesting thing about shooting in a plane: the backlight I get from the other side. Sometimes I will try to shoot with a flash to balance out the backlight.
10. Photographing my workplace/desk
For fun personal documentation, shoot your own desk, or your (intermittent/nomadic) workplace.
I like these photos because they are more ‘real’ (I don’t like to show a photoshopped/false version of reality — like people placing things in a perfect arrangement for Instagram).
11. Museum photography
Lots of fun to shoot inside a museum! Some photos from the National Portrait gallery in Washington DC.
- Make photos of people looking at the stuff on the wall, but also photograph the paintings themselves for your personal recollection.
- Experiment shooting layers with people/depth
- Shoot leading lines, curves, and silhouettes
12. Coffee shop photography
Shoot in unusual places– like inside coffee shops (a lot of action happening in here):
Also while inside the coffee shop, make photos looking outwards!
13. Meals with friends
Document your meals and meetups with good friends!
Shoot the interior decor, the food you’re eating, and of course portraits of your loved ones:
14. Walk around the block
This is a super simple idea:
When you want to take a break, just take a walk around the block with your camera!
Don’t “force” yourself to shoot photos. Just walk around the block and photograph anything which interests you!
15. Photograph logos
When you see logos, shoot photos of them! Show interpretations of your own cultural icons/logos/corporate symbology.
Perhaps this can be perceived as ‘pop’ photography:
Photography doesn’t need to be exotic. Just shoot your everyday life; find more joy, beauty, art, and cultivate your own aesthetics in photography/life!