13 Creative Workouts That'll Strengthen Your Cinematography

If you're in a creative rut, these little shooting exercises might help get you out of it.

There's nothing worse than feeling burned out. Maybe you show up to work a lot less energized as you used to. Maybe you don't talk to your co-workers much anymore. Maybe you blankly stare at your computer screen for 8 hours contemplating jumping on a plane...any plane, and flying off to some exotic land that is miles and miles away from technology and reports and your freaking boss who doesn't seem to take the hint that you just really don't freaking like puns and backrubs, Paul!

For filmmakers and cinematographers, it's the same. We get caught up in the day-to-day monotony of repetition and professional expectations and monetary restrictions that our creative fire tends to burn out every now and again. However, these 13 workouts from B&H might just help you reignite your passion for capturing beautiful and dynamic images.

Now, even though these exercises are geared toward photography, with a little adjustment, they work just as well with cinematography. Here's a quick rundown of the list:

  • Two Dozen: Capture 24 shots while standing in one single place.
  • Ten of One: Capture 10 unique shots of one small subject.
  • Four Corners: Capture 4 shots, but place your subject in each corner of the frame.
  • Artificial Restrictions: You don't have to go full Dogme 95, but give yourself some rules: restrict your lenses, color, location, subject, whatever and see what you come up with.
  • Shoot a "Roll of Film": Limit the number of images you can capture to 24 or 36...like with real film.
  • Twelve Abstracts: Shoot some abstract images of a common object, like a glass, a desk lamp, or a toothbrush.
  • Portable Subject: Choose a portable subject, like...pretty much anything you can carry, and take it to several different locations.
  • The Un-Selfie Selfie: Back in the good ol' days they'd call this the "self-portrait." 
  • The Mixing Bowl: Write a bunch of random restrictions, rules, or ideas down on a piece of paper, cut them out, throw them into a bowl, choose one, and work on that the rest of the day.
  • Nine Elements: Capture 9 images emphasizing the 9 elements of art: light, shadow, line, shape, form, texture, color, size, and depth.
  • Steps: Decide on a location, as well as a number. Go to that location and take that predetermined number of steps and stop. Shoot.
  • Two Trips: Go to a cool location without your camera and just observe. Then, come back later with your camera and shoot.

Maybe you're a person who thrives off of lawlessness and unrestrained creativity, and that's great. My weird brain admires that. However, I am someone who performs really, really well under some rules and restriction, because my brain would rather find solutions than create elements. Maybe you can relate!

What are some other interesting exercises you think would help get filmmakers' creativity going? Let us know down in the comments.     

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