Are you stuck in the house?

I am social distancing. Who would have thought it? Three months ago no one imagined a little virus could cause this much disruption, and it is going to get more challenging. It is very likely that many of you will be stuck in the house; either in self isolation (because you have the virus or someone near to you does) or social distancing (because you are vulnerable). One of my readers (thanks Ruth) suggested that I share a Photography Activity for people in this situation. Here is a variation on a new photography activity from my forthcoming eBook ‘Photography for Well-Being’, which may even be released earlier than expected because I am stuck in the house. The silver lining!


On a day when you feel a little blue, stuck in the house or stuck in your creativity prepare to be inspired with this activity. The idea for it came on such a day, the relentless rain of yet another wet winter’s day was pulling me down, I knew what I needed to do: get creative.

There is not much that you need preparation wise. Just save this activity for a day such as I describe. Maybe it is the weather, maybe life circumstances, maybe you just have to stay in or maybe you just feel creatively stuck in routine. Whatever the reason you feel stuck embrace the possibilities of this activity and change your mindset through a creative photography fun. All you need is your trusty camera, one favourite lens and an open mind. Follow the activity guidelines and note how you feel at the end.

The skills you will develop during this activity are rooted in seeing creative possibility. When you feel stuck sometimes all you need is permission to do something a little different, to get creative with your life. This activity is kind of a metaphor for that. You are going to follow a routine of shooting that encourages you to see what might be there, even though you cannot at first see that possibility.

I believe that creativity can be fired by marrying limitations with routines, so that is what you are going to do. The limitations include a limited time frame, only 20 photos, no deleting and staying in your home. The routines include the Four Stage Seeing Practice, a favourite music album and following ECRA (Experiment, Create, Review, Adjust). I will start by explaining ECRA.

Experiment: As you wander about your home, from room to room, use these three camera techniques to see new creative possibilities. They can be used individually or together.

1. Defocus: Use a lens that you can switch to manual focus and defocus the photo each time you see a possibility. Look for colours, lines and shapes to begin your experimentation.
2. Wide Aperture: Use a lens that has a wide aperture, anything beyond f2.8 will encourage creative seeing. Set your lens to its widest aperture, ISO Auto and your camera to aperture priority.
3. Intentional Camera Movement + 1 second Shutter Speed: Intentional camera movement works well when the movement is kept to a small one, this partners well with a 1 second shutter speed. Switch to ISO Auto.

Create: Walk about the house, when something catches your eye stop and rest with what it is. Using your chosen camera technique consider the best Point of View (PoV), remember you will only have 20 photos to create, so be certain that you have the most interesting framing and press the shutter.

Review: Look at the photo. Maybe it is perfect in its own way, but if not be kind to yourself and attentive to possible improvement. Maybe the photo did not quite come out the way you imagined. Consider what changes you could make to create one more photo of the same scene. These changes could be technical or compositional.

Adjust: Make the changes, but before your press the shutter remember that this is the last time you can create a photo of this particular scene. Yes, this is a limitation, a maximum of two photos of any one scene. Consider your PoV again, check the frame, check your technical choices. Press the shutter and move on.

Now that you understand the creative process you will be following, choose a music album to have playing whilst you wander about the house (and turn it up!).

The Activity

  1. Prepare your favourite camera and lens.
  2. Choose an inspirational, favourite album to play loud.
  3. Allocate the time it takes the whole album to play for the activity.
  4. Remember that you are only going to create 20 photos in this time.
  5. No deleting.
  6. Wander about your house not looking for a photo, but attentive to creative possibility. Look for colours, shapes and lines.
  7. Do not look for objects, look at what is there as if you were a camera and did not know the name of anything.
  8. Follow the ECRA instructions only creating a maximum of two photos of anyone scene.
  9. Take your time. Have fun. Be experimental. It does not matter how the photos turn out. There will be some that you love. Share one of those in the Photography for Well-Being Facebook group or here

Here are a couple of my favourite photos from my practice

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