Getting Creative: Sometimes the Best Plan Is No Plan

by Kerry Drager

Graphic Design Pattern 1
Graphic Design Pattern 1
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Usually you’ll want to develop a strategy to make the most of your photography time. But occasionally, heading out with no specific photo goals in mind is another effective tactic for “uncluttering” your mind and unleashing your artistic vision. Without a schedule, you’ll be more receptive to photo opportunities that can pop up unexpectedly.

This unstructured approach can be used anywhere. It can be a short escape close to home, or it can be a longer trip. For example, you might follow an uncharted (but safe) road or trail, and see what it passes and where it goes. The idea is to let your photographic eye be your guide. You never know what you’ll find, and that’s the attraction of a no-plan tactic. So even if you don’t uncover any unanticipated gems, you’ll enjoy the hunt.

Pattern 2
Pattern 2
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Notes about the accompanying photos...

Recently, I drove to nearby Lodi, California, to see what I could find in the beautiful sunlight of late day. The clock tower at the small train station caught my eye (see the overall "Before" photo). Of particular interest were the tower's overhangs - their great design qualities (a pattern of lines, angles and shadows) and color contrast (warm tones set against a cool blue sky).

I then spent time pointing the camera upward - with a tripod, of course, in order to ensure top image quality. I shot a number of images by varying the compositions: i.e., via camera angle, format (horizontals and verticals), and lens focal length.


before - overall view
before - overall view
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Learn more...

Like these ideas? Then take a look at these how-to books co-authored Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager:




About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Kerry Drager
Photography Instructor: Kerry Drager
Kerry Drager is a professional photographer, teacher and writer who is also the co-author of two books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light. He has taught many photography courses (online and in person), seminars and field workshops.

Be sure to check out Kerry's website - www.kerrydrager.com.

Also, he is the author of Scenic Photography 101, the photographer of the photo-essay books The Golden Dream: California from Gold Rush to Statehood and California Desert , a contributor to the books BetterPhoto Basics and Daybreak 2000, and a co-photographer of Portrait of California. In addition, Kerry was profiled in the April 1994 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine and in Vik Orenstein's 2010 book The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business, and his website was showcased in the January 2003 issue of Shutterbug magazine. Plus, his work has appeared in magazines, Hallmark cards and Sierra Club calendars, and in advertising campaigns for American Express and Sinar Bron Imaging.

Also follow Kerry on Facebook, where he posts photos several times a week that include shooting tips and thoughts.

Kerry lives with his wife, Mary, on California's Central Coast, with their three Newfoundland dogs, four cats, and a mixed terrier.