Photography Clips

Time for Observation

There are lots of quick creative workouts you can do daily to keep your mind in shape. Try simple observation to help keep your creative mind at its sharpest.

It’s a subject I bring up a lot, how we can add just a little more creativity to our days. And there’s a reason for that: You could consider creativity kind of like muscles. Work it to keep it strong, and if you don’t make a little time for exercise, then there’s a good chance that creativity will start to fade. Or, not really fade so much as become more difficult. But the thing is, with our modern lifestyles being what they are, most of us simply don’t have time to spend taking photographs every single day. We’ve got jobs to go to, families to be with, errands to run, and so on. At the end of the day, there’s often just not a spare hour left over to get out the camera and make a few photographs.

So among the hustle and bustle, we need to find quick ways to keep our creative minds exercised. Simple observation, I think, is one way we can do that. It’s certainly something we can do each day, a small exercise that we can do anywhere in the world, and it’s not something that has to take more than a few minutes of your time.

When you have a few minutes’ worth of downtime, give it a try. All you need to do is simply pause wherever you happen to be and observe. This could happen while you’re stopped at a traffic light or when you’re standing in line at the store. Think of all those times during the day that requires waiting. Waiting for your lunch break to end or waiting for a load of laundry to finish. Sometimes, you may find yourself stargazing out the window from your office. There are lots of little opportunities to pause and observe. Use these times, five minutes, ten minutes — however much time you have — to really take in your surroundings.

And the key is not just looking, but truly taking in your surroundings. Start by taking note of all the individual details you can find. The way a particular leaf curls, or the gleam of sunlight on a shiny car, the texture of asphalt — the more you look, the more of these small details you will start to see. Examine the lighting, either sunlight or the artificial light filling the space you’re in, and take note of the angle, how it casts shadows and so forth. You could spend some of your observational time thinking about how you could use or modify that lighting in a photograph. Observe colors and how they work together or contrast. Perhaps, when you’ve spent a couple of minutes observing, possible compositions will emerge, and this is another thing you can think about how you might compose an image wherever you happen to be observing.

That’s all it really takes to keep your creative mind exercised! Just spend a small amount of time looking and thinking creatively each day to keep your mind in shape for when you do have time to go on a photo outing.

Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens!

About the author

Will Moneymaker

Will has been creating photographs and exploring his surroundings through his lens since 2000. Follow along as he shares his thoughts and adventures in photography.