Trying out new creative challenges can not only help keep your mind focused, it can also teach you some new skills to use later. If nothing else, it might just beand may even offer some fun weekend activities to try with the kids this summer.
I’ve put together some of my favorite creative challenge ideas you can do with your phone without leaving your own home. Don’t forget ourfor more photography tips and tricks, as well as my rundown of the for both iPhone and Android.
1. Make a creative composition
Composite photography means that different photographic elements from multiple images are combined into one finished shot. At a basic level, it can be used to simply replace a sky on a landscape image, but with some experimentation it can provide endless possibilities for creativity.
In my case, I wanted to compose myself in the same scene multiple times – almost like it shows all the different things I can do throughout the day in one image.
Putting it together was pretty easy. Here’s how:
1. Place the phone on a tripod.
2. Frame your shot as required using the lens options, if available.
3. Set your phone to a 10 second timer or use a Bluetooth remote.
4. Step into your scene and take a picture.
5. Go to multiple positions and take a photo every time. Make sure that the camera does not move at all between shots.
6. Blend the images in Photoshop by overlaying them and erasing unwanted areas.
2. Practice portraits
Whether you’re taking a photo of a partner, family member, roommate or even your pet, portraits can be a great creative outlet. Live alone? No problem, flip that camera over and use selfie mode, or even put your phone on a tripod if you have one and start raiding in front of the camera.
Look around your house and see where you think it could be an interesting scene. Maybe you have an old leather chair in which someone could pose. You may have an unusual carpet that you can leave your subject on so that you can shoot from above. You can also try some photos while looking wistfully out the window.
Also experiment with the lighting. Natural light coming in through windows is your best bet, so taking photos nearby is a good place to start. But maybe there is a cool lamp that you could use as a single moody light source to add some artistic drama to the recording. You can also grab an LED light panel from Amazon and try adding your own.
3. Still life scenes
Still life can contain many different types of photos – from bright and airy photos from above of a delicious salad or, on product photos from your laptop, game controller, new shoes, or anything you think could shoot well. You can even just grab a nice selection of things from your home that, when artfully arranged, can make a pretty picture.
The lighting principles are much the same as for your portraits. Use windows whenever possible, as they are likely to provide the largest, brightest light sources in your home. Food photographers regularly use natural light in their images to give their photos a realistic lifestyle. Play with where you position your subjects and try to shoot from different angles to get the light exactly where it is.
4. Make a short movie
Making a short film can be a lot of fun because you have to think about several different production elements. First, of course, that’s what your movie should be about. You may want to try filming a gritty crime drama with your family as the cast. Maybe it’s about your cat and the things they do during the day.
My short film was all about the process of making a delicious cup of tea. After I decided which movie I wanted to make, I thought about the steps involved in filming the process. For your crime drama, this would be when you write a script and figure out what pictures you need to put it all together.
Making a cup of tea is a very formal process, so knowing what to film was easy: fill the kettle with water, wait for it to boil, pour the water, and so on. I added some extra scene shots at the beginning and a final shot of me enjoying the tea I had brewed.
It was made entirely on my iPhone 11 Pro, using an Edelkrone slider that allows you to create smooth, gliding movements for your photos and an anamorphic lens per Moment, to give that cinematic wide aspect ratio. I edited it in Adobe Premiere on my MacBook Pro ($ 690 at Back Market), but you can easily edit your own movie in iMovie, right on your iPhone, or with Adobe Premiere Rush on your Android phone.
I really enjoyed the process because it forced me to think not only about angles and lighting like I would in my normal photography, but also how to visually tell a story that made sense to someone watching. It was a lot of fun to experiment more with my shooting and editing style too, so it was definitely a great way to spend a few hours at home on a quiet afternoon.
5. Work on your edit
You may not be able to go out and take a whole bunch of new photos, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put the ones you’ve already taken to good use.
Both the Android and iOS app stores are full of apps that provide a wealth of creative editing options for your images, with a seemingly limitless number of filters, frames, and funky flair for you to apply.
Snapseed is my favorite and it’s free on both platforms. It has a variety of color filters available (including filters that give your scene a punchy ‘HDR’ look, as well as more vintage tone options), but it also offers more in-depth editing tools, such as the ability to selectively paint brightness in the areas only you want. You can also get more creative with apps like Photofox and Bazaart, both of which I used to create the self-portrait at the top of this article.
My advice is to browse your gallery on your phone and look back at the weeks, months, or years of photos you’ve taken. Mark the ones that really stand out as your favorites, then sit on your couch with your favorite drink, fire up some editing apps, and hit town with your photos.
Not only could you breathe creative new life into photos you have long forgotten about, but you can also learn some valuable new techniques that you can put into practice when you can finally start shooting again.