How Will We Elevate Our Photography In 2021?


It's the new year, and like many, we make and break resolutions by the time you're reading this blog. We really don't need the resolution to elevate our photography. Improving our shooting and post-processing techniques reside in our DNA.

At various stages in our photography, we stall, burn out, ramp it up and throw it down. We're here to share a few ideas to keep the creative mindset growing in 2021.

The good news? These ideas don't require anything other than your action.

5 Ideas To Elevate Our Photography: For Customers, For Sales & For You

As photographers, we take images for customers, as a source of income, and for personal enjoyment. As a new year unfolds, our plan is probably not to do the same thing we did last year. We're providing ideas to inspire creativity and a bit of fun too!

Find A Boring Subject And Turn It Into Art

Boring? Really? Yes. Challenge the ordinary with your creative eye.

There are days when the weather or our subjects just don't cooperate. Or, we're having a dry spell due to current events. When we don't have anything to photograph? That's just not reality. There's always something to shoot.

Challenge your creativity and find the most boring, yet intriguing subject that's nearby. Who can forget Andy Warhol and his Tomato Soup can? Your next creative inspiration may be lurking in your kid's playroom, the kitchen, tonight's dessert, or inside your car.

Take a walk on the wild (ahem, boring) side and turn it into an art piece.

elevate your photography sheen watkins
Abstract with paper, glass and a paper clip by Sheen Watkins

Create A DIY Project At Home

The image above is one of my favorite creative moments in 2020. To capture this image, I used holiday tissue paper, a few pieces of copy paper (plain white), a paperclip, and a small flashlight with a glass table. The outcome? Abstract art.


  • Place a flashlight underneath the glass top.
  • Place one piece of colored tissue paper on top of the light underneath the glass table. This changes the color of the light. Working with tissue paper with multiple shades or overlapping colors works too.
  • Cover the glass top with a piece of copy paper to diffuse the light passing through
  • With copy paper and a paper clip, create folds, curves, and bends.
  • Place your paper designs on top of the table and let your light shine through.

Take A Selfie, Share Your Story & Your Plans

As photographers, we're comfortable behind the lens. In front of the lens? Well, that's a bit different. Part of moving forward in our work comes along with revisiting where we've been and where we are today.

Additionally, in the world of social media, the web, and locally, we are competing for awareness and business. Followers, current and future customers connect with a photograph through the work, the work's title, description, and even thoughts behind an image.

Followers and customers also connect with the photographer through understanding the motivations behind your art. Take a selfie, write a bio, share it on your page and social media.

Get Creative With An Old Friend (Lens)

We find comfort zones in our lenses. Some serve as workhorses, or the next in line for a shoot if you need to go longer or shorter. These lenses are our friends, they see us through many shoots.

elevate your photography
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

This year, let's try something new with current or old lenses. The thin tissue paper mentioned above? Try placing it in front of your lens. Saran wrap (plastic wrap works too). If you have a really old lens that you're ok with tampering a bit, smear vaseline on the outers edges of the lens for a filmy, romantic view.

Or, turn off autofocus, rotate the lens barrel and make the lights work for you as in the image above.

Elevate Our Photography Personally: Build A Photo Story of Your Current Mindset

As photographers, we tend to shoot in our genres. This past year and today continue to challenge our fortitude. Our work locations, communications, and family dynamics changed. We hug others less. We hug our fur kids more.

white textile on brown wooden table
Photo by Anshu A

Tell your story through your images. This story doesn't require sharing although you may choose to do so. Make it personal. How do you feel? What makes you happy? Sad? Scared? Think of this as a self-portrait, without the selfie. But if a selfie is part of your story, that works. You're the artist and the author.

Last year we all made resolutions, but did we keep them? The difference between making a resolution and keeping a resolution is a very thin line. Keeping it simple and keeping your intentions top of mind makes all the difference. We hope you're on your way to a fantastic year and that you'll share your photography projects with us.

For more ideas check out Dahlia Ambrose's Light Stalking article: Here Is An Analysis Of Flickr’s Top 25 Photos In 2020.

Further Reading:

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

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