Having your iPhone with you at all times means you can shoot anything you like. Sometimes that freedom is liberating, but the endless choice of subjects can also be overwhelming, leaving you without any clear focus or creative direction. A great way to break free from all of this choice is to intentionally photograph a series of the same subject or scene. By forcing yourself to photograph the same thing again and again, you can actually make yourself more creative. In this tutorial you’ll discover eight different ways to shoot an interesting photo series that will make you more creative than you ever thought possible.
1. Choose A Subject For Your Series
Think of places near you that are distinctive and photogenic. Is there a public place near your home or office that has great natural light or beautiful shiny floors?
By returning to that place on a regular basis you’ll start to notice where the good places are to shoot at that location, and you’ll learn the rhythm of what happens there.
After you’ve shot all the “good angles,” try to find another angle that you’ve never shot from before.
You can also return to the location with different people, which will immediately give you variety for your main subject, even though the locations stays the same.
2. Find Subjects That Are Similar
If you don’t have a distinctive location that you can get to on a regular basis, try finding lots of locations that are very similar to one another.
By shooting a series of subjects that are related, your series will easily showcase what’s similar and what’s different about each subject.
It’s like finding a theme that you like and then looking for many variations on that theme.
Your subject could be a series of locations that are similar, or a bunch of props that have something in common with one another.
Almost anything can be a series, so pick something you like and start shooting!
3. Shoot A Subject With A Clear Concept
If you feel stumped for finding good locations, you can always force yourself to look at a familiar subject in a new way by making yourself shoot it with a clear, simple concept.
For example, autumn leaves are always pretty to shoot, but can you make yourself think about them in a whole new way?
How about putting a special rule in place, like “I’m only going to shoot minimal photos of autumn leaves.”
By adopting a restriction like that, you’ll be looking at trees and their leaves with fresh eyes. This will rejuvenate your photography and inject your work with new creativity.
You might find that you want to shoot using lots of negative (empty) space, or by collecting some leaves and shooting them against a solid background.
By making yourself shoot with a limiting concept, you access new areas of your brain and you’ll surprise yourself with how creative you can be.
4. Shoot From Different Angles & Perspectives
If the subject for your series is a single specific thing and it’s static (like a building or a sign), you can spark your creativity by looking for different angles and perspectives to shoot from.
After you cover all the basic angles, start to think about how many other ways you can photograph your subject.
Can you get directly below it or directly above it? Really close? Far away? Can you frame it in a way that will make it seem new?
Experimenting with angles will improve your eye for composition and force you to be more creative.
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5. Shoot Against Different Backdrops
If your subject is portable, you can take it to different locations and shoot it in new environments. The subject will become the constant thing, while everything else around it changes.
Maybe your subject will be small enough that you can keep it with you all the time, and then whenever you’re someplace new, take it out and see if you can find a great location in which to photograph it.
Seeing your subject in unusual places will add variety to your series, and inspire you to think of even more unexpected places to photograph.
Don’t be afraid to carry interesting props around with you. As you can see, I’ve taken my favorite little red chair to all sorts of locations to create this particular photo series.
6. Shoot In Different Seasons
Another great way to build a strong series around a single subject or scene is to return to it at different times of year.
If you’re ever feeling stuck with your creativity, returning to a subject you’ve previously photographed is like seeing an old friend again.
Pay attention to how the subject is different during each season, and try to focus on that with your photos. Or maybe your subject never changes, but the world around it reflects seasonal changes.
Your seasonal subject can be a single tree, or an area that you like to go to and shoot from different angles.
Regardless, by focusing on the seasonal aspect of your subject you’ll easily be able to create a series that has variety and stimulates your creativity.
7. Tell A Story With Your Series
If you shoot a series over a long period of time, you’ll eventually start to build up a narrative of events that can tell a story. This is perhaps most easily done if the subject of your series is a person.
You might want to think about how many different ways you can shoot that person, or how many different locations you can photograph them in.
For example, I’ve been building a series of photos of my husband. I photograph him from behind in places that we visit. He even has his own hashtag on Instagram: #backofburtshead.
By looking at all the photos at that tag, the story of our life together starts to unfold by documenting all the places that we’ve visited together during the past few years.
8. Capture A Sense Of Place
You can also tell another kind of story with a series, by trying to capture the spirit of a place in a group of photos.
Maybe a place that you want to photograph is so large that you can’t possibly tell the story of that place in a single image.
Capturing a series of images at that location will create a more complete picture for the viewer, and it will get you thinking more creatively about how you take these photos.
If you’re trying to capture the feeling of what it’s like there, look for images that convey the different moods of the place.
Try photographing the scene at different times of the day to capture different kinds of light. Take some photos with people and some without.
However you choose to shoot your location, by trying to tackle your subject from different points of view you can capture a real sense of place.
No matter what you choose as the subject or theme of your photo series, giving yourself boundaries will force you to be more inventive as you try to work within those limitations.
By organizing your series of photos around a single specific subject, you can very quickly unleash your creativity and produce strong, meaningful images that will fascinate your viewers.
All you have to do is find a subject or location that you’d like to photograph, then spend some time exploring different ways to shoot it.
And the best thing about a photo series is that you can continue working on it indefinitely, giving you plenty of time and opportunity to come up with creative ideas and improve your iPhone photography skills.