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How to Become a Spontaneous Photographer

Read Time: 7 mins

Being spontaneous means opening your eyes up to the photographic opportunities around you. It means trying new photo techniques, having the desire to dive into the ins-and-outs of great photography. It means improvising and thinking on your feet. Being spontaneous as a photographer is a simple way to create more interesting photos and improve your photography skills.

Photo by Cycling Octopus

The Day Dream Effect

Do you ever catch yourself dreaming about the kinds of images you want to take? It's like you can see the perfect photo in your mind. The lighting is supreme, the moment is unique, and every element is exactly how it should be.

But then you find you don't have all the equipment or the setting or the subject to make it happen. Yep, it's an easy way to day dream. And it's a slump we can all fall into. It prevents us from discovering all there is around us that we can make great photographs of.

You don't need to plan or make an enormous effort to make great images. That's not to say that planning and effort doesn't bring ideal results! It's just not the only way to practice your photo skills. If you need some inspiration, just be spontaneous.

Just You and Your Camera

Being a spontaneous photographer means leaving the extra photo equipment behind. When you just carry the minimum, you'll find yourself shooting more. It takes you away from the "if I just had this lens I'd shoot that" mentality. Be inspired to shoot without having every piece of gear.

Photo by Cia De Foto

If you're still not feeling adventurous, then think about what drove you into photography. Did you have a million pieces of equipment or was it just you and a basic camera? Photography is something that builds upon itself slowly.

You start out with a Rebel and a basic lens thinking that everything around you is a fascinating subject to shoot. You're not caught in the day dream effect that keeps you from simply shooting. Think about when you first got interested in photography. Use that remembered enthusiasm to spark spontaneity the next time you shoot.

Photo by Antoinette Seaman

Another great aspect about leaving extra equipment behind is that it fuels creativity. A lack of resources always causes the brain to think in different ways.

Take Your Camera Everywhere

Photo by Vinoth Chandar

When you leave the house today, bring your camera along. Even if you're just going to the grocery store. You can make everyday errands more interesting if you include a photography side venture.

Drive down a dirt road, walk along a different sidewalk, or sit on bench at the beach or a park. Having your camera by your side will change the way you observe the world around you. As a photographer, you always have a creative eye. But notice how much it increases when you have the power to capture any moment you want.

There are so many types of photography that are great outlets of spontaneous inspiration. Street photography, landscapes, and portraits are just a few styles that don't require massive planning or preparation.

Photo by aussiegall

The Buddy System

Have you ever heard of "the buddy system?" It means bring a friend along when you're about to do something you shouldn't do alone. Like scuba diving or rock climbing, you should have someone with you. When it comes to photography, the buddy system means the difference between a structured shoot and a spontaneous one.

Photo by Jack Batchelor

When you have a friend modeling for you, the images you capture are more natural and free. Planned photo shoots can bring along the desire to achieve a very particular shot list. But photographing freely with no plan makes you think on the spot.

Go on an unplanned walk to stumble across locations you wouldn't have discovered before. Suddenly a lonely tree stump makes for an exciting prop for your model to pose on.

The goal is go about whatever you're doing, have fun, and think of your camera as an addition to the day.

Don't Forget the Camera in Your Pocket

Photo by hipnshoot

“The best camera is the one you have with you." This is a common saying in the photography community. And it's true. Great images are not always determined by the number of megapixels of your camera.

With the popularity of camera phones growing, and that particularly of Apple's iPhone, you're never without a source to achieve nice images. With a camera phone in your pocket all the time, it also means you can continually practice your photography skills.

So get out your phone and shoot like you're holding a DSLR. Crouch down for a low angle, stand on a wall, move elements in the frame. Be on a mission to get something different, unexpected. You don't need to rely on fancy filters or effects to make your phone photos look interesting. Use your phone's camera to experiment with angle and approach.

Photo by gogoloopie

Be Fearless

Edwin Land, inventor of polaroid photography said, "an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail." This is exactly how you need to think in order to be a spontaneous photographer. Great art is born out of challenges.

Photo by Eneas De Troya

Remember that it takes capturing a lot of images to get the best one. I sometimes get overwhelmed at all the photos in a single folder on my computer. The thumbnails all look similar.

I can click next, next, next and find nothing I like. But then I discover some gold. There's always a few pieces of quality images. That's all it takes. An image is powerful because it is a single moment captured. In order to achieve the best, you must be willing to shoot a lot of ordinary images.

Fear often comes from a lack of knowledge about something. To develop fearlessness of photography, you just need to follow three simple steps:

1. Figure out what is stopping you. It could be that you're frustrated by studio lighting. Or you may not be shooting action because you feel you have the wrong lens. Identify what is really stopping you from achieving the kinds of images you want.

2. Learn more about it. This is the step that defeats your fears and frustrations. Read a tutorial or look at great work for inspiration.

3. Shoot without over-thinking. In other words, just start taking photos. Do it to the best of your ability and equipment. You will get interesting images if you put in the effort. Remember that mistakes and dissatisfaction are excellent references that point you in the direction you want.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by paul bica

How would you describe your photography style? What about the type of photographer you are? It's natural for any artist to find a niche they fall into. But the more you create within the same niche, the narrower your creative vision becomes.

Even by just exploring places in your own town, your photographic senses open up. It's our instinct to want to capture something that grabs our attention. Everyday routines blind us to the interesting subjects around us.

Photo by code poet

Increase your creativity by trying different styles. Have you ever tried HDR photography? Maybe it's not your cup of tea. But that's okay. Try it anyways and you'll learn something from it.

Perhaps you don't favor the overall look, but the process of shooting multiple exposures inspires you to shoot multiple frames. This new technique leads to shooting panoramas.

You never know what you can learn unless you give it a go. Try new photo techniques with the idea that it's not the outcome you're after. It's everything you'll learn along the way.

This is how creatives work. Have the desire to discover new places and techniques and don't think twice about it. Just look through the viewfinder and see a world waiting to be photographed.

Be Ready For Anything

Photo by Ryan Li

Everyone has their photography-feeling preference: the way you feel when taking photos. Do you like a tranquil atmosphere with a stationary subject you could shoot all day? Or do you like it when your heart is pounding and you only have one chance to capture the moment?

However you prefer to shoot, you should still be ready for anything. Don't miss out on a great photo opportunity because you're set up to shoot something else.

Being spontaneous means improvising. The more you think on your feet, the better your photography will be.

Do you have any suggestions? Share in the comments below!

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