How can we boost photographic creativity?  

This page is filled with student photo works. May your images be selected as well to help others discover the language of visual communications.

Young photographers are nimble and acrobatic with a cameras in hand, and regularly snap great shots that older photographers miss due to gout, arthritis, knee and hip issues.  The following project challenges will dissolve old paradigms about picture-taking and stimulate imaginative ways to discover new compositions with your camera.  Be careful, these challenges are guaranteed to inspire a relentless commitment, an infectious passion to keep on exploring the creative possibilities of image making.  

Mastering the mechanics and options of digital photography never meets the need for outrageously awesome photos.  Creativity is the zip, the spice, the wow-factor that differentiates a snap-shot from a photographic work of art.  In our media crazed culture, our photos have to be over-the-top to be noticed.  Creativity is your edge.

With the Almighty Creator as your Daddy, lay claim to His creative gene within your being; nurture His deposit of creativity in you...Christ in you!  Amen!  


Have a buddy select five unrelated objects (a vase, a book, and crackers) (a hammer, a doll and a punch bowl).  These objects must fit on a small table.  Focus on composition as you play with arrangements and lighting.  Shoot at least 10 photos. 


This age old project retains its mesmerizing power.  How classic and contemporary!

A glass container to hold water.  Consider the form of your container.  A round container will reflect the surrounding imagery in the room, while a flat surfaced container tends to be easier to control and less reflective. 
Consider your background.  White reflects the most amount of light. A colored background will greatly influence your final photos.
Food coloring.

Set up in an area where your light source is totally intentional.  There are several sources of natural light; think candles and big windows.  Likewise, there are innumerable artificial sources of light. 
Fill your water container with cold water.
Place your camera on a tripod and preset your manual focus.  This is essential because once the food coloring is dropped in the water it’s too late to focus.  You’ll miss your shot. Use the fastest shutter-speed that the lighting and your camera allows
Shoot quickly to capture imagery before the food coloring totally dissipates into the water.  One color at a time tends to work well.  When the water becomes clouded, dump it, refill and reshoot.


Toss a Frisbee outdoors.  For indoor photography toss a button indoors.  Stand in the exact spot of the Frisbee’s/button’s landing and begin shooting photos from that one spot.  When you think you’ve shot all there is to shoot, think again.  Remain in the one spot for at least 4 minutes.  Use the timer on your cell phone or some other device.  This is tough, but it’ll force you to get down and around with your camera.  Obviously, your telephoto lens option will be a huge help.  Be sure to play with depth of field.  It’s one more thing to play with until the timer sounds. 


Looking up
and looking down 


Prerequisites: Prepare yourself for this challenge with a tenacious attitude, a lot of patience and your macro or close up lens or filter.  Although this project may cause your creative juices to flow in all sorts of wild directions, you should keep it simple.  

Reflective material such as shiny metal mirrored plastic such as mylar.  Heavier yet flexible materials work best.  Flimsy foils tend to crinkle and excessively distort imagery.
One quart or larger glass water container
Food coloring

Intentionally select a location near a light source of your selection.  Purposely select natural light or one of may sources of artificial light.
Place the reflective materials on a table in front of the clear glass water container or containers.  The idea is for the light to pass through the food-coloring tainted water and cast light onto the reflective surface (mylar, mirror, aluminum foil).  Play with the positioning of the colored water container(s). 
Position yourself to shoot from an overhead view of the reflective surface.  Your creativity lies in how you wrinkle, crinkle, fold or warp the reflective material.  You may need tape or paper-weights to hold the material in position.
Get very close with your macro lens.  You may stand back a bit and use a telephoto lens.  Survey the entire surface looking for a composition you like.  Shoot and reshoot, adjust the reflective surface and light sources, and then continue shooting. 


Set up your photo shoot area so that whatever you shoot, you shoot though a piece of glass.  You will need to set up a prop stage to hold the piece of glass in position and your subject that behind the glass. The sweet thing about this project lies in the kind of glass you select.  Clear water-textured glass is awesome.  This is available from stain glass shops. 
Think way outside-the-box when it comes to your selection of glass.  What about eye glasses, glass bowls, large glass bottles or several test tubes.  Wow... What about using plain glass with a a mist of water or oil spritzed on it.  You could also elect to shoot through glass containers filled with food coloring. 

What will you choose as your photo subject?  You may also shoot fresh fruit, flowers or even portraits.

Take this challenge to a new level.  Get outside where the lighting is great and shoot through your art-glass capturing a wide range of subjects.  Flowers always intrigue views.  Build your composition with one or more flowers in a group.  See what happens as you move your subject closer or away from the art-glass.  Have fun!


This is a purists photo-heaven.  You see, color photos dazzle the eyeballs with hue and intensity and thus obscure foundational principles of composition, gradient levels and contrast.  Black and white photography provides a common denominator void of color, which reduces the photo to its raw element of composition.  This is a powerful exercise. To him who has eyes to see, great lessons on composition will forever enhance your photos.  One must ask himself, “What constitutes a good black and white photo?” 

Consider composition, lighting, contrast, texture, form and a range of gradients that best tell your story.

Set your camera to a black and white mode, if you have that option.  Carry your camera throughout the day keeping your eyes open for realistic and abstract compositions that are great black and white compositions

Train you eyes.  Actually, it’s your mind that needs exercising.  Continually evaluate the levels of pure white and the myriad of grays and blacks.  What do you want your final photo to look like?  Are you looking for harsh and crisp imagery with striking contrast, or are you looking for more soft and subtle imagery with blurred and implied edges.  

Be sure to utilize your camera setting options to achieve your awesome black, gray and white images.  Shutter speed, f-stop, and many other settings are your tools to unlock the full potential of your camera.



Pick a color, any color, your favorite color, your mother’s favorite color.  It really doesn’t matter.  Let the hunt begin.  Find your color everywhere and shoot it.  You’ll train your eyes to discover many subtle variations of “your color” and how different lighting conditions greatly effect the hue, the value and the intensity of the color.

Purples Everywhere!



This is a slightly unusual way to build your perceptivity wherever you find yourself.  How many wonderful images are totally unnoticed because we are too busy to stop and seriously gaze.  Musing is amusing when our thoughts are engaged by what we see.    

Take ten giant steps in one or more directions.   Stop and start shooting a dozen pictures.  See what you see with a heightened visual sensitivity for detail.  Whether you are indoors or outdoors, employ the power of depth of field as you shoot your subjects from various positions at your tenth giant step location.  


The Rule of Thirds is a 2-D composition principle that suggests we divide a picture plane into thirds, bother vertically and horizontally, and then align our subject along one of the lines or the axes.  This offset focal point is natural and engaging.

This rule is valid because subject matter that is off-center often provides more interest that perfectly centered and symmetrical compositions.  Play with this one and have fun thinking creatively about where you place your main subject on your picture plane. 

Once a rule is mastered and a photographer begins to breath the rule, it’s time to break the rule with an adventurous spirit to speak boldly through his photography.  Right!  Shoot it right and shoot it wrong with a right motive. 


This exercise satisfies our need to tell our story from our personal perspective.  It’s perfect for family gatherings, concerts, school events, festivals and travel.  Keep your camera close and see the event through your lens so your audience will see your experience through your eyes.  You are not all seeing.  You don’t know everything.  Your view of life is tainted, spun, colored by your individuality.  It’s time to celebrate that unique and extremely personal point of view.  How do you see family gathers, concerts, school events, festivals or travel.  What do you find interesting, pleasant or perhaps disgusting? Capture it in imagery. 

Shoot a million shots (almost) and intelligently narrow the collection down to 12 images that unfolds your spin on the event.  This challenge empowers you to know by experience that you have the ability to speak through photography.  

While your focus is your story, you must pay close attention to background and foreground visual information.  It all speaks to you audience.  Intentionally think about color limits, black and white and filters.  These limitations will visually unify your series of photos and eliminate the distraction of color in your storyline.  

This is a good one.  Have fun. 


This is huge!  When the entire picture frame is filled your viewer cannot keep being drawn into your subject.  Background clutter distracts when it does not purposefully contribute to the visual composition or the psychological message of your photo.  Always consider what your background stuff is doing.  

Again, get close to your subject matter.  Shoot “up in your face,” so to speak.  A macro lens works wonders for this challenge.  A telephoto lens can serve to snap close-ups as well.  Cropping during the editing process is another way of filling the picture frame with your subject.  In doing so, background clutter is eliminated.  

Continue thinking about filling your view finder while backing away from your central subject.  Background increases as you distance yourself from you subject; it surrounds your subject.  Now, intentionally consider this background and how it either contributes or distracts.  A great way to diminish background is to use your camera settings to blur the background and subdue it’s visual noise.  

The best photographers have these principles of photography engrained in their shutter fingers, eyes and minds.  Is your viewfinder always filled with meaningful foreground and background?

Although these photos are black and white, this challenge works in color as well.  It’s a matter of creative preference not mandatory limitations.  Filling the picture plane is a concept.


As a little child I’m sure you played “dress-up.”  There’s no age limit on this fun activity.  The time has come.  Play professional photography.  Dress up and pretend.  

Set up a photo-shoot with classmates or friends and head for a favorite site; a meadow, the woods, a auto showroom, a local monument or historic building, downtown in day or night, safe abandoned buildings, or contemporary glass buildings, fields of wild flowers or booming weeds, a playground ... anywhere awesome.  Take turns shooting great photos of one another.  

This activity builds community as you take turns posing for each other and share photo tips, insights, lighting, perspectives and photo-attitudes.  There’s n dynamic of attitude that is often gendered in relationships between you, the pretend-professional photographer, and your fellow models - pretenders.  Employing music during a photo-shoot generates a range of attitudes depending on the music selection.  

 You can pretend you are a pro photographer, but you can’t pretend perfect weather.  Try to pick a beautiful day; rise early in the morning and take advantage of good lighting.  As the sun rises the lighting subtly transforms the landscape and your models with soft hue changes.  Enjoy God’s light! 

 You may want to pack a few props and outfits.  While you’re pretending, be a character, a superhero ... or not! 

 Bag a lunch or eat out making the day a memory with friends.  The fun-factor essentially relaxes everyone, and the camera captures this sense of wellbeing.  Some of the best memories have been captured in pictures through this photo-shoot experience.  

 Maintain perceptivity throughout the day.  You’ll probably glimpse your friend’s facial expression at an unexpected moment of discovering something, expressing surprise, appreciation or even a contemplative private moment.  These are often the most rewarding shots of the day.  

What a face!  What’s going on in his head?  This moment is forever captured and forever holds the secrets of his thoughts, while puzzling those who ponder the photo. 

CHALLENGE 13 - coming soon