4 Ways to Spark Your Creativity with Melanie Anderson

4 Ways to Spark Your Creativity with Melanie Anderson

4 Ways to Spark Your Creativity with Melanie Anderson

In this edition of Shutter Magazine, I discuss four ways to spark creativity in your work. This topic seems fitting for the anniversary edition—what better time to reenergize and get creative. I find many times throughout the year that I become stagnant. I am a portrait photographer, and tend to photograph the same way in the same locations over and over again.

At the end of senior season, after photographing 100 of them throughout the summer, or after several volume sports jobs, I am tired, uninspired, burned out. I need to seek ways to find that spark again. It’s important as a creative soul to stay creative. We need to constantly push ourselves to change things up a bit.

  1. Macro Photography

I have recently fallen in love with macro photography through the eyes of my 18-year-old daughter, Emily, who’s been drawn to this genre. We enjoy going to botanical gardens where we find unique plants and flowers. We could spend an entire day there exploring and enjoying the beauty of nature. Macro photography insists that you slow down, be patient, create differently. Although this style of photography does not currently bring in studio revenue, we’ve discussed ways Emily could create a boutique product to offer clients. We enjoy the one-on-one time, and I get to see beauty through her eyes. This sparks creativity in me.


Nikon D4

Macro Lens Sigma 105

50mm 1.8


Light source

  1. Creative/Fashion

I arrange a few creative shoots a year. They usually involve professional hair and makeup to enhance the overall feeling of the images. These are the images I use for print competition. I push my lighting, my posing and my style farther than I would if I were doing this for a paying client. I crank the music and move the lights around to showcase different features, providing shadows and depth in areas where I would tend to use flat lighting. I find the moments leading up to these shoots a bit stressful, organizing the details and not being completely sure what I want to create. But once I get in the mode, and a camera in my hand, I begin to see things differently. Again, these are not images or sessions that bring my studio tremendous profits, but they do allow me to push my boundaries, test new lighting and explore for fun. I enjoy having a team around me to feed ideas and provide additional inspiration. Unveiling the final creation is inspirational and makes me proud of my accomplishments.


Nikon D4

85 1.4

24-70 2.8




  1. Solitude

Some of my most favorite time is in solitude on location. Most people would consider me an extrovert, and for the most part, I agree. But I need my quiet time: time to refocus, regroup, reenergize. This is during day trips to the beach, a hike or just driving around. It’s a time to find peace, slow down, recharge my batteries. I often create just using my phone so I don’t have to carry around heavy equipment. I love that I can take a photo with the simple push of a button, then go into my apps and add contrast, texture, vignette, HDR, lens blur, convert to black and white, and more. I also love the ability to upload to social media so quickly, which provides instant gratification and a sense of accomplishment.

Some of my favorite creative apps are Snapseed, Picfx and Mextures. In some cases, I have found these images to be of high enough quality for print competitions. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I’ve even merited with some of my iPhone images. Those iPhone advertisements saying “Shot on the iPhone 6” and the like are real. The quality these technologies provide is worthy and easy to use when you don’t want to lug around your equipment. Now, this doesn’t mean you should shoot your portrait clients with your iPhone, but don’t throw out the idea of posting or submitting a beautiful image just because it was taken on one.



Various apps

  1. Black & White

My love for black and white is deep. The simplicity of taking out colors in skin, hair and clothing allows the emotion, relationship and connections that are so greatly displayed in these images to shine through. Not only do these images make you stop and admire the connection, they are also timeless and make for wonderful boudoir, maternity, newborn, engagement and wedding portraits. I use Nik filters to convert my images to black and white, and love the Silver Efex version. With the click of a button and custom sliders, you can create one-of-a-kind versions of black-and-white artistry. In print competition, an image I think is just okay turns out to be award-winning once converted to black and white.


Nik filters

Take time to create for yourself. Find ways to spend time experimenting with new lighting techniques, new poses and new lenses. We need peace in our lives. When chaos takes over, my stress levels rise, my blood pressure increases and my brain becomes foggy. It’s hard to create. Get away before you get to that point. This could be for 30 minutes, a few hours, a couple of days. Whatever it takes to get yourself back on track and ready to create again. Don’t be surprised if you need to do this often. The busier we get, the more we need to find solitude to stay inspired.

Action Items:

  • Get out and create.
  • Try out new lenses, rent if needed. Get up close and personal.
  • Download the apps Snapseed, Picfx and Mextures.
  • Take some time for yourself. Schedule it into your calendar if you need to.
  • Download the trial version of Nik filters.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the July 2016 magazine.

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