Use your senses, watch movies and more tricks to nurture your creative side.

By Karen Hutton, International Landscape and Travel Photographer, Fujifilm Artisan

By the most common definition creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like; and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.

This doesn't sound too complex. But how exactly do you do that? Since we are all different, there are probably a million different ways to get more creative. And I am sure you already have some established creativity hacks of your own. 

Today, I'd like to share my personal approaches that have been helping me to nurture my creative side... Hope, you'll find them useful.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(2)Image © Karen Hutton


Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Just be in the moment, be present. But I bet YOU weren’t taught that growing up! When you’re present, you’re not thinking about future possibilities, nor past mistakes.

The photographer’s “stuck in your head” litany might go something like: spending too much time and attention on gear, settings and other technical stuff; worrying if they’re good enough; fussing over whether they’ve got the best shot, trying to impress in social media, wondering if (when) they ever get their big break, etc.

How do you become more grounded, focused and present? 

Some people pray. Others meditate, practice yoga, have breathing techniques, etc. The bottom line: find a way that gets your heart, soul, and gut leading the way instead of your logical head! Technique is supposed to be in service of expression. Not the other way around.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(3)


Rather than always using your visual senses, try using the others. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the air around you, smell the air, taste something new, physically touch things around you and notice your visceral response to them, sense the energy surrounding you.

Allow your other senses to contribute to your vision in unusual and delightful ways; and let them affect how you compose the very next image you create.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(4)Image © Karen Hutton


Watching films can inspire you to “See Different” in a variety of ways. For instance…

Look for how color grading contributes to mood or feeling. Notice how framing makes you focus your attention where filmmaker wants you to and how doing that moves the story forward. 

Pay attention to how different depths of field make you feel - emotionally. Look for use of wide, medium, or macro/telephoto lenses - and what it triggers in you as the viewer. 

Notice how the music contributes to both feeling and story. Maybe try listening to some music the next time you photograph - and see how it contributes to the choices you make.

To get the pot stirring, here are some movie examples to get you going: Midnight in Paris, The Hobbit, Avatar, Hugo, Amelie, An American in Paris.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(5)Movie art: "An American in Paris"


The masters of painting throughout the ages figured out a thing or two about how to use color, tones, light and composition to convey their vision. Why not get inspiration from them?

In no particular order, the works of Anthony van Dyck, Rubens, Brueghel, Leonardo da Vinci, Ma Yuan, Tōhaku, Hokusai, Turner, Cole have become classics for a reason. It might be time to find out why.

Check out Learning Landscape Photography from the Masters of Painting by Patrick Smith. It will take you on a masters-through-the-ages journey that will surely inspire you, even if you’re not a landscape photographer! 

You may find yourself getting new ideas for post-processing, composition, ways of telling a story, using light that you hadn’t considered before. Find inspiration and new ideas from what-came-before. You don’t have to completely re-invent the wheel to find your own way of using it.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(6)Image © Karen Hutton


All of these suggestions lead you outside of photography. They encourage you to experience something new and synthesize it into your art using your own unique voice. That’s “Cross Training” - a practice that makes you stronger than simply repeating the same thing in the same way over and over again.

Habit kills creativity. I’m not saying that healthy habits like brushing your teeth and taking care of your gear are bad… I AM saying that performing even good habits unconsciously puts part of your creative self to sleep.

5 new ways to tap into your Inner creativity | Skylum Blog(7)Image © Karen Hutton

True creativity involves saying “YES!” to the constant challenge of waking up, listening and becoming connected. To the voice of your heart, soul - your inner creativity - and then acting upon it. Break every unconscious pattern you find yourself falling into! That’ll keep you busy for awhile.

Vision isn't just about using your eyes. It's about letting life breathe itself into you, then listening to what your heart, soul & the light within have to say about it.  

That’s the story that only you can tell. And you must.

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