CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

7 days and 7 creative ways to develop your style

Avid TikToker and professional photographer and videographer Kym Moseley shares his tips and tricks for creating unforgettable images.
A portrait of a man with his face dragged across the image in post processing, on a purple background.

Expanding your creativity is key to improving in photography. Learning to experiment with style and trying out new techniques can lead to bold and often surprising results. Kym Moseley is a keen advocate of playing with ideas, which he then shares with his many followers on TikTok.

Recently, Kym pushed his creativity to the limit by setting himself a photographic challenge every day for a week and documenting the challenge in a TikTok tutorial. Here, Kym shares the seven different techniques he used and reveals the creative thought process behind each of his striking final shots.

1. Add an abstract element

Some say the camera never lies, but editing apps can certainly bend the truth. "I find the surrealist work of Salvador Dalí truly inspirational and wanted to create something similar," says Kym of the mind-blowing image headlining this page. "I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do, so I decided to just take a self-portrait and keep it simple. The Canon Camera Connect app is so good for this, especially as you can autofocus on yourself while you're standing in front of the camera, taking all the guesswork out of the equation.

"For me, portraiture is all about the eyes," Kym continues. "They're what you focus on, literally, when taking the shot, but it's also the eyes that tell the story. I don't think there's anything worse than a fake smile in a portrait – I can always tell when the eyes aren't smiling. To come up with something completely different in this shot, I decided to remove the eyes from the picture altogether, eliminating all individuality and personality. I stretched a section of the face at the editing stage and the shot is transformed into a portrait of somebody that could be anybody. I think it really hits the mark as a surrealist artwork."

2. Change angles to shoot the bigger picture

Shot from the ground looking up, a bird flies between two towering skyscrapers against a bright blue sky.

"Shooting the buildings with an ultra-wide-angle lens and an aperture of f/4.5 gave a big enough depth of field to keep everything sharp, along with a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second," says Kym of this image entitled Look Up. "That's easily fast enough for wide-angle handheld shooting without a tripod." © Kym Moseley

"I mainly shoot portraits and people but it's good to challenge yourself with something different," says Kym. He wouldn't use an ultra-wide-angle lens like the RF 16mm F2.8 STM or the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM for portraiture, but feels they can give a dynamic perspective for cityscapes, such as the one above. "For this shot, I tried to think of something different to the usual images of buildings and had the idea of shooting directly upwards," he explains.

Kym uses the Canon EOS R6, and EF or EF-S lenses can be used with this camera with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

"I loved the way the skyscrapers appeared to lean inwards towards each other with the upward perspective, but felt it really needed something in the centre of the sky, like a bird or an aeroplane. This didn't happen, so I cut out a bird from the background of an old shot and pasted it in, right where I wanted it."

3. Get creative with self-portraits

A portrait of a man with Chinese characters shone onto his face by a projector.

While mirrorless cameras enable you to preview the effect of exposure and white balance settings in the electronic viewfinder, you can enjoy the same benefits with all of Canon's DSLRs that feature Live View, by composing shots on the rear screen instead. © Kym Moseley

"I love portrait shots that are dark, cinematic and old-looking, like a still in a movie," says Kym of the inspiration behind the striking results of his third technique. "I wanted most of the frame to be dark, with just part of it being lit in a dramatic way. To create the effect, I used an LED light stick to give a little illumination to the background. Then I plugged my phone into a projector and wrote the Chinese character for 'love' on it, literally projecting it onto my face.

"I practically always use manual exposure mode, so I can get the look I want, especially with dark images," Kym continues. "I swapped from a Canon EOS 6D Mark II to an EOS R6 a while ago and, as with all Canon mirrorless cameras, it really helps being able to see a live preview of exposure levels and white balance in the viewfinder. I played around with the colours of the LED light and the Chinese characters on my phone until I got the balance I wanted, with a bluish background and a reddish text."

For portraiture, Kym favours a tight depth of field for isolating the subject against a blurred background. A lens with a fast aperture rating enables this, making the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM and the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM ideal, cost-effective options.

4. Use shadows and light

The shadow of a hand holding out a rose to an awaiting second hand, also in shadow.

Kym feels that bold, simple shapes in silhouette can sometimes say more than light and colour. "This shot of two hands and a flower is all about human interaction," he says. © Kym Moseley

"Bright, sunny shots are everywhere, but I love to play around with shadows and silhouettes," says Kym. For his image of two hands and a flower silhouetted against a grey wall, he wanted to keep things plain, simple and dramatic. "A lot of my inspiration comes from pictures I've seen in movies or on TV, or on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. This one is based on somebody placing a flower into somebody else's hand. I think it makes for a really strong image with an emotional pull."

Kym continues: "I shot the image indoors, pointing the camera towards my window and using about one stop of overexposure, to get rid of any detail in the bright background. I took two separate shots, first of one hand and then the other. They're actually my own hands, so I used the Canon Camera Connect app to control all the settings and preview the shots remotely on my phone. Finally, I merged the two photos together in an editing app to form a composite image."

5. Experiment with composition

A skateboarder pushing off in a darkened multi-storey carpark.

People often think that you need a fast shutter speed for freezing action, but Kym went the opposite way and used a slow shutter speed of 1/30th of a second to add motion blur in this shot, creating a sense of movement. © Kym Moseley

"I love that so many Canon cameras have a vari-angle screen. You can use this to compose shots from unusual angles, holding the camera high up or really low down," says Kym. For his image of a skateboarder in a darkened carpark, the camera was at ground level, which he felt gave an interesting perspective. "I was able to make the skateboarder's body look big and small in exactly the places I wanted, so his foot that's closest to the lens looks huge and the rest of his body is receding away into the distance," he explains. "If I'd taken the shot from a regular eye height, it would have lost all of its impact.

"The super-fast 20 frames per second drive rate of my Canon EOS R6 is another big help for this type of shot," Kym continues. "I fired a burst of quick-fire images so that I could be sure of capturing the definitive moment. Whatever camera you use, it pays to use its fastest frame rate for this kind of image."

6. Taming the wild

A pigeon flying off from an outstretched hand holding seed.

Kym used single-point autofocus for this image, but could also have used the amazing deep-learning AI bird-detection autofocus mode of his Canon EOS R6, also featured in the EOS R5 and EOS R3 cameras. This intelligently locks onto a bird and tracks its movement, detecting the body and homing in on the head and even the eyes as and when they come into shot. "I love the way that the EOS R6 is so incredibly intuitive and easy to use," says Kym. © Kym Moseley

You don't have to go on safari to achieve striking wildlife images, great shots can be taken in your own back garden – or, in Kym's case, his local park. Says the TikToker of his photograph of a pigeon flying away after feeding: "I've always been inspired by shots of pigeons taking flight and photos of people holding an exotic bird in their hand. I decided to combine the two with this image.

"There's a café in the park that sells packets of bird seed for feeding the ducks, but it also works well for getting pigeons to come to you. I simply held the camera in one hand and coaxed the pigeon onto the other. I used a fast 1/1600th of a second shutter speed to freeze motion as the pigeon flew away."

7. Double-take

A black and white double exposure image of a young man with close-cropped hair.

Kym says this double-exposure image wouldn't have been possible without the Canon EOS R6's facility for showing a 'ghost image' of the first shot, on which he could overlay the preview of the second shot to line up the eyes. "It's just a fabulous camera," he says. The feature is also available in a number of other Canon cameras, including the EOS 90D, the EOS 6D Mark II and the EOS RP. © Kym Moseley

"This is another shot that's partly inspired by somebody else's work," says Kym of his memorable final photograph. "Double exposures always grab the attention and I wanted to create an image where the left and right eye were exactly overlaid in the two separate shots," he explains. "There was a bit of trial and error involved because I found that the pupils of the eye had to be placed very precisely.

"The multiple exposure mode in my Canon EOS R6 was a massive help," Kym continues. "After you take the first shot, it's displayed in the viewfinder or on the rear screen as a kind of ghost image, so you can use it for accurate placement when composing the second shot."

Whether you give yourself a week-long challenge like Kym, and try one of these different techniques every day, or just give a few of them a go over time, there's great joy and satisfaction to be had from pushing your boundaries as a photographer. Don't forget to share your results with the hashtag #FreeYourStory, tagging @canonemea.



Written by Matthew Richards

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