Tips + Techniques

How to Find Creative Photography Inspiration in 7 Steps

February 14, 2021

By Jyo Bhamidipati


If 2020 taught us anything, it is to count our blessings and keep moving forward. It’s the only way through. As artistic photographers, whether we take clients or create for ourselves, it is important to keep photographing in ways that push ourselves creatively to grow and refresh our minds, refine our skills and give ourselves space to experiment. While pushing to find creative photography inspiration is especially hard during the winter months indoors, I’ve found a variety of ways to spark creative growth during this time of year.

[Read: 6 Ways for Photographers to Inspire Creative Energy in Isolation]

1. Find a project to work on.

Working on personal projects can be really stimulating to the mind, infuse excitement in your art again and find photography creative inspiration—especially if you’re feeling creatively stuck. Personal projects don’t have to be elaborate. You can do something as simple as:

  • taking one portrait a day.
  • choosing a photographic theme and challenging yourself to develop it visually each week.
  • working on one skill or photographic element for 30 days.
  • doing a 52-week project with prompts.

It’s best to frame your personal project as a whole within a specific period of time (not necessarily a deadline) so you can keep track of progress and stay accountable.

find creative inspiration with a personal project in photography such as the #samespaceproject

This image was taken as part of my #samespaceproject, where I have been documenting absolutely anything I want in the same space for the last year. The parameters of the project are deliberately very loose, with no deadline, but I make sure to take at least one image a week to keep this project as exciting as when I started it. Restricting yourself with a certain rule or task can really open up your creativity, rather than giving yourself absolutely no rules at all.

find creative inspiration with personal project such as "I want to be like Mommy"

I have been simultaneously working on a project called “I want to be like Mommy.” This is all about documenting my little girl and her toddlerhood, where she wants to be and do everything like me.

[Read: Balancing Work and Play to Find Your Creative Style in Photography]

Tip: Make Your Personal Project a Collaboration

You can always collaborate on your personal projects with other creatives so that it doesn’t feel like you are working in isolation behind a computer all day. Collaborations could be as easy as involving other creatives to join you in a project you embark on with a hashtag.

2. Practice working creatively with light everywhere you go.

One of the best ways to grow as an artist and find creative photography inspiration is to have a good understanding of light and to use it creatively in your work. While you may already have a preference for one kind of light versus another, stepping out of your comfort zone and playing with all types of light can lead to some fun creative play.

[Read: Tips to Shooting Creative Indoor Portraits Using Only Window Light]

Created Light

find creative inspiration by photographing with artificial light at home

In the image above, I used artificial light (my Profoto A1) along with my rainbow flare wand from my Lensbaby collection. I also created a double exposure in post with my lace curtains—my daughter plays with the curtains all the time, and this was just a part of that story.

Dappled Light

find creative inspiration by photographing with dappled light at home

Dappled light can be challenging to use it in your work seamlessly, but when you work to implement it intentionally, it can be so experimental and unique! When working with dappled light, always remember to expose for the highlights (by placing your subject in the highlights) in the image.

Prism Play

find creative inspiration by photographing with a prism lens at home

This image was taken with my Helios, a manual only lens as well as a rectangular prism. The focus may have been slightly softer than my usual traditional lenses, but working it into my imagery made for such interesting light play and added a certain unique story to it.

[Read: How to Photograph with Only Natural Light Like a True Pro]

3. Experiment with various tools and objects around you.

I am a big believer that to find creative photography inspiration, you do not have to have expensive gear or tools. You can always use simple lenses, objects and things around you to create images and stories that speak to your heart and sense of curiosity.

Rainbow Flare and Light

find creative inspiration by experimenting with rainbow flare and light

This image was taken with my Helios manual lens again (which, by the way, I had purchased on eBay for super cheap, with an adaptor for my Canon camera). I handheld my $15 prism in my other hand. It was a neat way of creating a double exposure in camera without actually using the camera’s functionality for multiple exposures!


find creative inspiration by freelensing with your camera

I very often experiment with freelensing, a technique where you detach the lens from your camera body, hold it super close to your camera and tilt it in such a way that you introduce creative blur in the image.

Double Exposure

photographing double exposures

In this double exposure image, I simply photographed my daughter against a window first, then took a second image of the water droplets of the window, and then I combined them in post. I took this image with my Lensbaby Sweet 50 Optic lens.

4. Observe to find fresh perspectives around you.

I 100 percent believe that observation is the real key to making great storytelling images. It could be something as simple as observing the light shift that you had not noticed previously, or how the colors change against backlight in a room, or how your kid put her feet behind her while sitting on a chair. There is beauty everywhere we go, including the places we are used to seeing every single day. Taking in that beauty to find creative photography inspiration—to really notice the little things that you may not have paid attention to—can change how you create art.

[Read: 9 Things You Need To Develop a Signature Photography Style & Aesthetic]

finding fresh perspectives to photograph from

In this image, I was playing with double exposures in camera with my teen daughter, and while playing with perspective, I noticed how my story changed. After about three attempts—and observing what this shot could really be—I finally was able to successfully align my two shots in camera for this image to tell a powerful story about perspective through this portrait.

Tip: Change perspective by playing with composition.

Go beyond the rule of thirds or leading lines and challenge yourself to “see” more. Play and replay the “what if?” question in your mind on repeat and see what you get. Most of your attempts might be unsuccessful, but you will thank yourself for trying because you’ll discover the one shot that was successful by simply observing, taking in the scene and changing your perspective.

[Read: The Rule of Thirds—How to Use It and When to Break It]

find creative inspiration by playing with composition

This image, which also plays with perception and perspective in the frame at the same time, is a self-portrait, taken by handholding my camera in my other hand. It would not have happened had I not noticed the shadow on the wall that was created by simply raising my hand and catching a reflection of it in the mirror.

photographing from above with a drone

Adding a drone to your collection really elevates your game by bringing a new perspective that you don’t always see in the traditional sense. Shooting in midday sun has never been so much fun since creating with my new drone!

5. Photograph subject matter outside your usual.

You may be someone who is used to photographing a certain genre or specializes in a particular niche. Opening up yourself to an entirely new genre just to experiment and “play” during your off season is really a great way to sharpen your skills and find creative photography inspiration.

[Read: Photographing Your Way Out of Creative Roadblocks]

find creative inspiration by photographing different subject matter

While I love photographing macro and nature, I rarely photograph food. In fact, prior to this year, I have never taken a photo of food with my big camera. However, this year I decided to take up photographing food. Staying home a lot more means cooking a lot more. Photographing food this year has become one of those “why not?” questions for me, especially since we have been mostly homebound in the last year.

experimenting with food photography

In this image, I used a Profoto A1 light off camera on a stand with a softbox along with my Canon Mark IV and a Canon 135mm f/2 lens.

photographing simple details

Apart from food, I have also been documenting the simple details of the everyday beauty around us in our lives. To separate this from my usual professional and client work, I started a new instagram account that solely focuses on experimenting and creating “different” work than my usual brand.

[Read: Seamlessly Incorporating Off-Camera Flash]

6. Brush up on your technical skills.

brushing up on technical skills

Off season is always a great time to update your website or learn a new skill. Brushing up your technical skills to be on par with your creative endeavors is also equally important. As an instructor who teaches a creative workshop (The Imperfectionist at Click Photo School), I always start off by saying that you can only break the rules when you know what rules to break!

Knowing your camera inside and out and working with all the functionalities of your camera is a creative skill in itself. A long time ago I created double exposures in camera without really understanding the technicalities of how I actually created them. Learning the ins and outs of your camera, or understanding a new way of processing, or even working on that Photoshop class that you have been putting off, is really an amazing way to grow as an artist and find creative photography inspiration.

find creative inspiration by photographing with only available light

This image was taken with my Profoto A1 and a softbox, placed to the left of the frame while the night lamp was turned on. It was taken at nighttime so that there was very little available light to enhance the mood and tone of the image that I was hoping to convey.

For the last five years, I’ve taken pride in being a 100 percent, natural light-only photographer—I never thought I would be an artist who would embrace artificial light! However, as the new year has taught us some new things and skills, learning OCF and especially learning to incorporate it seamlessly into my work was a huge goal of mine.

find creative inspiration by photographing with artificial light at night

This image was also taken at nighttime, with no ambient light in the room—simply with the light from my Profoto A1 and my Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 35mm L II lens on a tripod, and using my cellphone as a timer and remote.

7. Stay positive to nurture creativity.

Positivity encourages you to find creative photography inspiration. One of the biggest positives that has come out of the pandemic for me has been the ability to practice quietness and find new ways to be creative within the same spaces that I see daily. While it’s not been an easy path, and there certainly have been challenges and roadblocks in the past year, having the right mindset and creating space to work on your ideas and vision has been the key.

staying positive and nurturing growth

Jyotsna Bhamidipati (Jyo) is an electrical engineer and an award-winning published fine-art lifestyle photographer, as well as a mentor and educator, based in Sacramento, California. She is a lover of light and shadows and seeks to capture the everyday perfectly imperfect beauty around her. She strives to be experimental in her vision and constantly works on pushing the boundaries in her photography. Jyo is the instructor of the highly popular workshop with Click Photo School called The Imperfectionist, where she encourages everyone to embrace imperfections in their everyday lives and practice creative artistry.