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Learning Photography (and Creative Devices)

This week I put my skills with a camera to the test, specifically regarding creative devices in photography. Luckily this ‘test’ was take home and I could try over and over until I was satisfied with my outcome.

Like most people I have experience with a camera, but I’ve spent little time actually crafting the composition before pressing click. After hundreds of attempts I finally produced five photographs I believed to be strong.

Let us take a peak, shall we?

Woman of Stone
A carefully crafted statue of a standing, nude woman overlooks individuals as they travel to and from the Visual Arts building located at the University of Wyoming.

This photo has a shallow depth of field. The woman’s elbow, which is located in the foreground of the photo, is in focus, while her face, neck and hand are blurred in the background. The elbow is heavily emphasized, yet the environmental context is still maintained. The background is clearly out of focus, but her other features are still recognizable. 

An experimental view point is generated by making her elbow the main subject. It places the viewer in a nontraditional perspective, and therefore changes the overall feel of the photograph.

Want to Dance?
A neon-lit sign hangs behind the bar at The Black Box in Denver, CO. encouraging its viewers that the experience of music and sharing dance moves goes beyond familiar faces.

The neon sign naturally contrasts against the background of this photo. The black and red have opposite characteristics, so when placed together the colors compliment and emphasize each other’s qualities. Therefore color is also improved, specifically the saturation. The contrast affects the vibrancy of the letters, and the viewers are left with a clean and sharp message.

It’s All in The Details
A succulent covered in tiny bumps and colorful lines grows in the William’s Conservatory at the University of Wyoming. 

Compositional cropping is the dominant creative device in this photo. The details of the plant, the main subject of this photo, are able to receive the viewer’s full attention because of the absence of the subject’s surroundings. 

Pattern is also employed as a creative device. Viewers are moved throughout the image going from one feature to the next, due to the repetition of the bumps and lines outlining the leaves of the plant.

Hands Drawing Hands
Art major, Gunner McLulan, works late into the night practicing sketching hands for an assignment in his Senior Drawing class. 

A pattern is created in this photograph through the repetition of the visual representation of a forearm and hand. Viewers are moved throughout the photo by transitioning one hand to the next. 

The two hands in the background are blurred as the closest hand is in focus, which creates a shallow depth of field. Similar to the other photo that employed depth the background is still recognizable. Viewers are directed to look at a drawn hand first making the “unfamiliar” and more interesting visual representation stand out.

Wall of Warm Tones
Concert attendees move quickly to catch The Floozies at The Mission Ballroom, a new venue in Denver, CO, located in Rhino District.

Leading lines is the dominant creative device in this photo. The painted lines located on the wall draw attention to the viewer and lead them to the subject, the active concert goers. 

The wall is decorated in bright colors that take up two-thirds of the frame, employing both color and the rule of thirds in this photo as well. The bright colored lines are powerful and static, which create a contrast between the dark background and moving subjects.


I was surprised how difficult it was to photograph candids of people while I was shooting for this assignment. Almost all the main subjects in my top five photos are of objects, because I found it difficult to efficiently compose moving people and parts. I can’t wait to learn tips and tricks to improve this aspect of my skills in photography.

For next time I plan on shooting the same subjects at different times of the day to create different compositions. Lighting is everything, and therefore it is something I wish to explore!


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