Andy Hawthorne

Project manager, writer and photographer

Photography as a Creative Outlet

I’ve been taking photographs since I was a teenager. I still use it as a way to boost my creativity.

Poole, Dorset

For the photo above, I walked along for quite a while before taking the photo. There were certain elements I wanted in place. So I had to move to make that happen.

The location is Poole, Dorset. In the far background you can see Old Harry’s rocks. But my subject was the sunlight on the sea. That’s what caught my eye.

With a wide-angle lens and a limited point of view I needed to get something in the foreground. Otherwise, the picture would be dominated by the vastness of the sea.

By sticking the guard rail and rocks in the foreground I managed two things:

  • The photo got some depth
  • The angle of the guard rail sort of leads you eye into the photo

That didn’t happen by chance. I knew the picture needed it so I moved around until it had it. That’s being creative.

Just another hobby…

Everyone has their thing - or most of us do. Some people play sports, build cars, paint pictures and some of us take photographs.

There’s a lot of things about photography that make creativity easy. The process of taking a photograph is creative for a start. Or, it should be.

The age of the smartphone means we’ve all become photographers. But the point-and-shoot stuff is not ideal for all photography.

What happens when you don’t get the photograph you thought you saw? Most people may not see the photo.

There’s a moment, out comes the phone, open the camera app and press the button. Job done.

Making photographs

Ansel Adams claimed that you make photographs, you don’t take them.

Once you stop and think about it for a moment, you’ll see what he means.

Making a simple decision like changing your viewpoint could end up with a better photo.

Deciding to alter the aperture or shutter speed sets a new precedent. But why bother?

The answer is in how creative you want to be. As Ansel Adams said: you make a great photograph. Art is subjective so my photo above may not appeal to you. But I took steps to get the photo I saw rather than pointing and shooting.

Getting creative

That’s where the creativity kicks in.

Thinking about depth of field, ISO etc. happen because you are making a photograph.

The photograph has a purpose. You’ve seen a subject in a certain way. And you want to capture it like that. Exactly like that - and not how your camera might otherwise render it.

Altering exposure settings is not only the remit of camera club nerds.

We make the photo we saw by controlling aperture, shutter speed etc.

Photography as a creative outlet


I’m lucky enough to own a DSLR camera. But I’d still take photographs with whatever camera I could lay my hands on. Because taking (making) photos is how I use the other part of my brain.

It’s that simple.