Type of post: Teaching Resource
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Hemant Kogekar
Status: Current
Date Posted: Sun, 1 Aug 2010


Experimental – Contemporary – Freestyle – Avant Garde – Altered Reality – these terms have been used over the years to describe images in which the photographer chooses to express themself in ways which are outside the limitations of traditional photography. Traditional photography, particularly that which you see in exhibitions and camera club competitions is constrained in various ways. These constraints include the type of subject matter photographed, the format of the photograph, the way it is mounted, and various rules governing the composition of the photograph itself.

Northside Creative Photography believes that many photographers have a great sense of creativity and want to break away from the rules and constraints of traditional photography. They want to illustrate an idea, rather than simply record a scene or event.

Creative photography is not new. Over the years a variety of processes have been used to create unusual and different effects – for example, printing using alternate chemical processes, the use of different types of film such as Polaroid or infra-red, cutting and pasting of prints (with scissors and glue), applying paint to the image, even rubbing it with sandpaper to create interesting textures. Montages, collages and three dimensional images were often popular.

In recent years there has been a revival of interest in creative photography thanks to computer software such as Photoshop and a whole new world of creativity has been opened up for many photographers.

A definition of creative photography

Creative photography is an extension of conventional photography into creative art. Its purpose is to stimulate creative thoughts and encourage experimentation with new ideas going beyond a simple photograph. There should be a significant photographic content, and inclusion of mixed media of any kind (photocopy, paint, transfer, digital etc) is welcome. It can be 2 or 3 dimensional. It can be a collage or a montage. The final result must be all the photographer’s own work including the original image.

Some ideas to get started

If you have a computer and photo manipulation software

  • Combine two images, then experiment with different blending modes and opacity. It is best to use very simple images to start with.
  • Experiment with different filters.
  • Photograph some interesting textures such as sandstone, tree bark, and blend them with another image.

If you are not using a computer and photo manipulation software there are many other ways of being creative, for example:

  • Using in-camera effects such as slow shutter speeds, multiple exposures, moving the camera while exposing the image.
  • Cutting and pasting of printed images to make collages and montages.
  • Painting on prints, hand colouring etc.

How to obtain assistance with Creative photography

  • Northside Creative has mentors who can assist members interested in learning more about creative photography.
  • The Australian Photographic society Contemporary group –
  • Art books and magazines can provide inspiration and methods for producing special effects in other media.
  • Look at the work of other creative photographers. Creative images can be found on the NCP website competition and members’ galleries.
  • For those interested in digital manipulation there are a wide variety of new books on the market. Look in your local library, art shops and bookshops.
  • Digital photography magazines.

Creative competitions

  • Northside Creative Photography’s annual Creative Competition.
  • Creative images can be entered in the club’s monthly competition in the open, monochrome or EDI sections.
  • National Competitions often have a Creative/Experimental,  Avant Garde or Altered Reality  section. See the Australian Photographic Society website for a list of national exhibitions.
  • Competitions in photography magazines.

With all competitions, check the rules regarding dimensions and presentation of the image.