Boat Mast in Shadows

Most of the time the subject of the a photo is easy to see – whether it’s a portrait, landscape, travel, or architecture. While these subjects are easy to identify, the use of shadows in these topics is not discussed as often as it should be.  We spend so much time trying to get the lit portion of our images in focus, composed to our satisfaction, making sure things are sharp, and all the rest, we sometimes miss the value of shadows in our imagery.

Boat Mast in Shadows

The shadows of an image can be just as important to the composition as the lit parts are.  When talking about how to light images with strobes and studio lights, the use of shadows to give definition is often discussed, but the same discussions can be germane to naturally lit photos too.  Remember, the word photography means to paint with light (photo and graphos), so even the absence of light can be significant in defining our images.

Subtle Portrait Shadows

Whether you shoot portraiture, architecture, landscapes, or even abstracts, shadows can and do play a role in how you compose your images.  Do you look at the shadows in your images?  What story do shadows tell in your work?

Abstract Shadows

Shadowed Helicopter

Summer Photo Project Ideas

Summer Fireworks

A summer photo project is a great way to keep the creative juices flowing and to keep your skills active.  Just like anything else, if you don’t practice your photography regularly, things can get rusty, so avoid the atrophy with these fun summer projects:

Summer Photo Project Idea 1 – Food!

Some foods are very stereotypical of summers, including hot dogs, bratwurst, watermelons, and salads (chicken salad, macaroni salad, potato salad, etc.)  Heck, even beer at a baseball game can make for some photo ops!  Try to come up with excuses to make the foods and then let your creativity whirl when capturing the images!  The best part is when you’re done shooting, your appetite is easily whetted and gratified!

Summer Food!
Beer cups at a baseball game make for a fun summer photo project

Summer Photo Project Idea 2 – Events!

Lots of fun themes surround summer – school letting out, graduation, independence, traveling, sunny beaches, fireworks, etc.  Pick a theme and look for ways to capture images of your own.  Obviously some will be more time sensitive (are you ready for July 4th fireworks?), so plan your timeline accordingly.

Summer Fireworks
Fireworks are a quintessentially fun summer photo project!

Summer Photo Project Idea 3 – Sunrises and Sunsets!

Yes, they are the intrepid photos we see all the time from all the world over, but every one is different, and every photo can tell a unique story, so stay out late one night or get up early one morning and find out where these classic shots can best be had in your area.  The nice thing about doing this during summer is that you don’t have to get up as early, and for the latter, you can usually wait until after dinner for your photo excursions – long days of summer give us extended times to approach the classic shots!

Summer Sunrise
Sunrise at Folly Beach SC – sunrises and sunsets make for excellent and inspirational summer photo projects!


In conclusion, having a project or theme to drive your creative vision is just one trick in the photographic tool bag. I’ve just given you three ideas for summer photo projects. But, of course, that’s not a corner on the market of creative fun summer photo project ideas. That said, you likely know where I’m going from here! What ideas do you have for summer photo projects?  Share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments!

Consuming Versus Creating Content

Swimming Duckling

Let’s face it: we have a lot to keep up on these days.  On top of managing our own social media footprints, there are magazines to read, forums to attend to (building and engaging with your own community of colleagues and friends), gear reviews, software tutorials, tech conferences, and then of course all the other life activities like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and all that other fun stuff that takes all of our time away from what we really enjoy doing:  creating content!  So, which is more important: consuming or creating content?

But if you look at all the other stuff that goes on instead of creating content, what it boils down to is that we spend most of our time consuming content versus creating content.  Thus begins the debate over how much time should be spent on consumption versus creation.  It’s a question creative ask themselves all the time:  “why does it seem I spend only X% of my time creating and Y% doing other stuff?”

The answer to the question of consuming versus creating content can be traced to a root “problem”: we are always learning.  Anyone who stands up and says they know everything about any subject is feeding you a polished pile of…well, you get the idea!  I contend that we are always learning (consuming content).  If you are reading a magazine, you are learning new material.  If you are perusing another artists portfolio (yes, even your friends), you are learning about what inspires others (and may in turn inspire yourself).  Watching tutorials?  Yep, that’s learning new tips and tricks too!  Notice a trend here?  Hopefully by now you see that consumption is just another word for learning!

So, never be afraid of saying that you are consuming more than you are creating – consuming is just a fancy word for learning, and learning is good!  What are you consuming today?

Swimming Duckling

Editor Note:  I wrote this several years ago, but it seems particularly salient lately as I have been creating much less than I have been historically.  I've been in more of a consumption mode lately, which means I am reading a lot, listening to other podcasts, and much more.  While that means the blog here has languished, it has given me a bit of time off to rekindle my own creative juices - which are definitely now brimming with ideas.  Suffice to say, I believe some new content may be forthcoming!