In my last two posts we talked about a simple exercise you can do to help unlock your creativity and also how to find your creative voice. The idea behind this blog series is to get you to think more creatively about the world around you. As a mom, I’m sure you are busy with the chaos of everyday life and there’s not much time to explore your creative side. I’m hoping this series of posts will inspire you to see the beauty in the world around you and maybe motivate you to pick up your camera more often. Or write in a journal. Or paint a picture. However you like to express yourself. Since I’m a photographer, we’re going to focus on taking pictures.

In this post, I want to share some ideas I came up with that can help spark your creativity. I’m not going to give you a ton of direction other than to explain what the photo prompt means. I’d love for you to share any pictures you take too!

10 Ways to Spark your Creativity. Simple photography prompts you can use to help inspire and motivate you. www.stacymaeandco.com

1. Photograph a day in your life. From start to finish. Keep your camera accessible or just use your smartphone. Photograph your routines and document the things that you do everyday that don’t normally get recorded. Breakfast. Saying goodbye to the kids at the bus stop. Where you work. Chores. Storytime. All of it!

2. Take a faceless portrait. Normally a portrait involves your subject’s face, but I’m challenging you to photograph something other than their face. This is a great opportunity to focus on details and get creative with your composition. One way to do this is to get in nice and close to your subject and isolate just one part of them. Hands, hair, lips, etc.

3. Edit your phone photos. If you use your smartphone for most of your pictures, are you editing them? There are a ton of really great apps out there that can take your photos to the next level. A couple of my faves are Lightroom, A Color Story, VSCO, and PicTapGo. Start by increasing the overall brightness or exposure of your image. You can also play around with the contrast and shadows to make your image more dramatic. If you like a lot of color, check out the saturation slider on these apps or apply a filter. Flex those creative muscles!

4. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. All it takes is a simple Google search and you’ll be met with tons of options for items to photograph on your scavenger hunt. You can make it seasonal or search for items in your home. This is a great one to get the kids involved in and excited about taking pictures.

5. Use an interesting backdrop. You can find all sorts of great backdrops outside or you can make your own. When you’re out and about look for color, patterns, and textures that would make a cool background for a photo. If you want to get crafty, create your own backdrop using a fun wrapping paper, pretty fabric, blanket, or even a chalkboard.

6. Take a blurry photo. I’m talking intention blur. Not the kind that happens by accident. Most of the time we want our photos crisp and clear, but an intentionally blurry photo can be beautiful. To do this, set your camera to manual focus and twist the ring until your subject is blurred. If you are using your smartphone, tap anywhere on the screen that is not your main focus and your subject should stay blurry. When you are deciding what to take a picture of, think of capturing a feeling or a gesture.

7. Photograph your home. I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. Especially since we are getting ready to welcome a new baby into our home. Your home is where you spend most of your time and everyone is always so reluctant to take pictures of it! Why? Because it’s not perfectly clean or styled? Who cares? It’s your home. It’s not supposed to be. If it was, it wouldn’t look lived in. Still, I understand the hesitation so here are a few things you can do. Take it one room at a time. It’s much easier to tidy up one room than it is to deal with your entire house. Decide if you want to capture the whole room (with a wide angle lens) or just a small portion of it. Use natural light if you can so that means pulling back the curtains or opening a door to let more light in.

8. Try food photography. You’ve probably already done this. Think about the last time you were out at a restaurant and you had an amazing meal. Did you take out your phone and snap a photo? I know I’ve done it. Mostly with desserts. What does that tell you about me? Lol! Food photography is a great way to practice composition and how to arrange the elements in your frame. Here are a few tips when snapping pics of your food. Try different angles. Get up on a chair and shoot from above. Get in nice and close to highlight the textures. Make it come to life! Pour syrup on your stack of pancakes. Take a bite of the cupcake you just made. Or sprinkle cheese on your favorite pasta.

9. Style a flat lay. A flat lay is arranging items in your frame and shooting from above. If you scroll through instagram you’ve probably seen a million flat lays. Fashion bloggers use them for clothing. Beauty bloggers use them to showcase makeup. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your food from above that would be considered a flat lay too. So, give it a try for yourself. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind. Shoot in square mode on your phone if you’re going to be posting on IG. Stick with an odd number of objects in your frame – 3, 5, 7, etc. Larger items should be towards the edge of the frame and the bottom too. Keep the background simple. And use natural light whenever possible.

10. Photograph your pet. Talk about a challenge. Lol! Make sure you’ve got lots of treats on hand for this one. Or just practice some patience. You can wait until they are tired from playing and don’t mind having a camera in their face. Or try to capture the action. Just keep your shutter speed super high!

I hope you enjoy these ideas! My advice would be to pick your favorite and give it a go! Or go through the list when you’re feeling stuck. I would love to see what you come up with so please feel free to tag @stacymaeandco on Instagram or post your pictures in the private Facebook group.

Welcome back to my first blog series all about unlocking your creativity to become a better photographer. In my last post, I talked about one simple exercise you can do to improve your photos without ever picking up a camera. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can begin to uncover your creative voice. No camera required!

Blog Series. Find your creative voice. How looking to others for inspiration can help you uncover your own unique style. www.stacymaeandco.com

Your creative voice is a combination of your experiences and your style.

It is unique to you. Using your creative voice allows you to express yourself in a way that words can’t capture. That’s why I think photography is such a powerful medium.

Sometimes the hardest part about being creative is being comfortable with yourself and what you create. I am always second guessing myself. Thinking that I’m not good enough. That what I am creating is crap. But I put it out there anyway. Why? Because I am always trying to get better. To develop a style that is uniquely me. And that’s what I want for you.

Blog Series: Find Your Creative Voice. Two simple ways you can begin to uncover your creative voice. www.stacymaeandco.com

Being open to sharing a part of yourself that has been hidden away can be scary. But it’s an important step in uncovering your creative voice. So don’t be afraid!

So where do we begin?

An easy way to start developing your own voice is to look to others for inspiration.

The first page in one of my favorite books reads like this.

“Every artist gets asked the question. Where do you get your ideas?

The honest artist answers, I steal them.”

Author Austin Kleon writes in his book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things nobody Told You About Being Creative,” that there are no original ideas and that if you come to terms with that idea then it can free you from the burden of trying to make something out of nothing. This was mind blowing for me!

Think about it – when you want to learn how to do something what do you do? Take a class? Search You Tube? Read a book? However you gather the information you’re looking to someone else to teach you.

When I wanted to learn how to use my camera, I went online and did tons of research. I would find tutorials and practice like crazy. The way that I practiced was copying everyone else. I had a binder filled with pictures from magazines because I wanted to try and recreate them one day (there was no Pinterest then). I also collected photography books and dog eared the pages that had images I loved. I used other people’s photos as inspiration to create my own art.

But there was always this feeling of guilt that someday I’d be found out. And that I’d be called out as a fake or phony. I STILL feel that way sometimes, but reading “Steal Like an Artist,” gave me permission to continue my thievery.

But how the heck can stealing someone else’s ideas help me create my own voice?

So glad you asked. Think about when you were little. How did you learn to walk or talk or sing the alphabet? By copying someone else. You’re not born with your own creative voice. You develop it by learning from others.

In the book there’s a quote from Francis Ford Coppola that sums this up well.

“We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and you that’s how you will find your own voice. And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you.”

The thing is you’re a unique individual. Even if you tried to replicate something step by step, it’s almost impossible to make a perfect copy. Why? Because you are like no one else. You have your own tastes, experiences, and preferences.

So now that you have permission to be a copycat, who are you going to steal from? Who inspires you? That’s where I come in. I want you to create a Pinterest board. If you’re not on Pinterest, you can also use Instagram as a way to collect ideas. The idea is to create a collection of images that inspire you. Pictures that you’re drawn to and would like to copy one day. Remember, it’s not going to be an exact copy. You’re going to bring your own unique voice to it.

If you’re not on Pinterest, here’s a quick tutorial on how to set up an account. Go to www.pinterest.com, enter your information, and select Sign Up. You can sign up with your email address or an existing Facebook account. Then you’ll be asked to create your first board. Come up with a name that describes what it is. Mine is called Photographers Who Inspire Me. Since this is your first board, Pinterest is going to suggest a few categories for you. You can go ahead and create boards based on what they suggest or choose something else. Now you’re ready to start pinning images.

There are two ways to pin images. You can go to a website and look for a Pin It button on pictures you love. Or you can use Pinterest as a search engine. Enter keywords like ‘family photography’ or ‘candid family photos’ and you’ll be bombarded with tons of eye candy.

Now fill your board with images that excite you.

Make sure you are saving a description to each pin too. Explain why you are saving it. What do you like about it? What are you drawn to? Do you like the way it’s edited? Do you like the pose? Is it the light? Be as descriptive as possible.

Once you’ve filled up your board, take a look at what you’ve pinned. Are there any similarities? What do the images have in common? Once you start to see similarities, you can use that as inspiration.

If you notice that you are drawn to darker, more moody images, light is going to play a big role in your photography. You’ll probably enjoy shooting in your home and searching out pockets of light or experimenting with shadows. If you are drawn to brighter, more cheerful images you may enjoy shooting outdoors more.

One thing to keep in mind.

Developing your creative voice does not happen overnight. And it can change over time. It takes a lot of practice, experimenting, figuring out your strengths and analyzing what works.

“You yourself are unique – you have ways of seeing your world that are unlike those of anyone else – so find ways to more faithfully express that, and your style will emerge.”

-David duChemin

When you’ve created your Pinterest board, leave a comment with a link. I’d love to see it!

 

 

 

Well hello there! Welcome to my first ever blog series. Over the next few days we’re going to talk about how you can unlock your creativity and improve your photography. All without even picking up a camera! Excited? Me too! Let’s get started.

Blog Series: Unlock Your Creativity. One simple exercise to improve your photography skills without ever picking up a camera. www.stacymaeandco.com

Some people think that living a creative life means always being able to create beautiful art. Or write poetry. Or paint. To me, it simply means being curious. Being open to trying new things. Letting that playful, imaginative part of your brain take over for a little while.

I know a lot of people who think they aren’t creative. But it’s there. I promise. We’re all born with it. We just have to nurture it.

As moms, our creativity often gets buried under piles of laundry and dirty dishes. We get so busy with the day to day, that sometimes we forget to take time for ourselves. To do the things that bring us joy and fill our hearts. Things that have nothing to do with the kids and their needs.

Photography has brought creativity back into my life. When I pick up a camera, I get lost behind the lens. I think a lot of moms do. I love being able to freeze a moment in time and preserve memories that are special to me. I feel like a storyteller capturing the details of their childhood.

Photography is an amazing way to train your eyes to see the beauty in your everyday. 

It forces you to slow down and observe what’s going on around you. You start to notice things. Light. Shadows. Details. Emotion. As a mom, it can be really difficult to slow down though. There are so many things going on in your day to day, it’s hard to ignore the distractions and be present in the moment, but photography can help you do that. You can’t go back in time to create a photo, you have to be in the present.

So how can I be a better observer?

The first step is to practice. An easy way to do this is to find an object. For this exercise, grab your child’s favorite stuffed animal. Take a minute to just look at it and ask yourself these questions. How big is it? Is it old or new? What does it look like? What does it feel like?

Now think about how you can answer those questions in a photograph.

You can also do this exercise with your children. You don’t have to spend the whole day with a pen and paper in your hand. Just give yourself 10-15 minutes. When the kids are eating breakfast. When they are doing homework. When the baby is napping. Whenever you have a few minutes of quiet to just sit and observe. Write down the things you see. Pay attention to details. Imagine you’re telling a story. What’s the scene? Who are the characters? Describe the details of each character? What is happening in the scene?

The more you do this, the easier it will get.

Don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time at first. Creativity comes and goes. Some days I can look at my daughter as she’s telling me a story in the front seat of the car and notice how the sun illuminates her curls. Other days I’m too distracted scrolling through Instagram. Give your self grace. Finding your creative voice takes time.

Failure is also a part of the creative process. I can take 100 photos and 99 of them are crap. I just push myself to keep trying. And learning. That’s one of the reasons I’m determined to complete a Project 365. It’s important to keep going to discover your voice. Tell your story the way you want it to be told.

Over the next few days, I want you to take a few minutes to sit back and really observe. Make it a priority to slow down and write down what you see. I’ve even created a worksheet for you to fill out with some inspiration to get you started.

Click here to download the worksheet.

Free worksheet to unlock your creativity. One simple exercise to help you become a better photographer without ever having to pick up a camera. www.stacymaeandco.com

 

 

 

 

It’s the first day of February which means baby girl is coming next month! I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy has gone. Let’s just cross our fingers that she comes in March and doesn’t decide that she’s nice and cozy in the womb for a few extra days.

I’ve been doing a lot behind the scenes to prepare for her arrival and one of them is coming up with ideas to make sure I complete my Project 365.

Aside from the typical milestones that occur over the course of a year, I wanted to be able to capture some more creative images too. You know all those quirky national holidays you hear about? Things like National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day or National Banana Cream Pie Day? Well, there’s a website dedicated to all those fun holidays. Yup! So I went through the month of February and picked out some of my faves for you. I went one step further though and put together a PDF that you can download and use for inspiration. Check it out!

I can’t wait to use the website once baby is born to come up with fun ideas to celebrate. If you end up taking any pictures, post them to social media and tag @stacymaeandco. I’d love to see!