creativity exercise: beautiful ugly

Picking up your camera, shooting, and challenging yourself is the best way to improve your photography.  The Creativity Exercises within the Clickin Moms forum are a great source for finding new ways to challenge yourself.  On the first Monday of every month the wonderful Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to shoot with the exercise in mind.  While the exercises are ongoing, at the end of each month we choose a few images as the ‘Editors’ Choice’ and share them here with you on the blog.  How fun is that?!  Today we are sharing June’s exercise with you below!

creativity exercise | beautiful ugly

“We are not interested in the unusual, but in the usual seen unusually.” – Beaumont Newhall

You know your camera inside and out.  You achieve perfect sharpness, perfect color, perfect exposure 100% of the time … and that makes you a brilliant technician.  All you need now is a beautiful subject, and you automatically have a beautiful, captivating photograph – right?  But what does it take to be an artist?  Part of it is developing the kind of eye that can recognize the potential for an ordinary object to become something extraordinary within the viewfinder.  Let’s take that creative visualization a bit further.  Let’s go beyond the mundane…

This month, your challenge is to photograph a subject or scene traditionally considered ugly, unappealing, undesirable, or even downright repulsive … and capture it in a way that draws us in.  It could be a dumpster, a dirty sink, a toilet, tangled cords, clutter, litter, something damaged, cracking, rusting, stained, ripped, frayed, broken, decaying … you get the idea.  I’m talking about the kind of stuff you typically AVOID including the in the frame because it would detract from your subject.  In this case, I want you to make it your subject.  How can you make it beautiful or interesting?  Is it about changing up your physical perspective?  Working with a different lens?  Using light creatively?  Emphasizing color, lines, or texture?  Converting it to black and white or otherwise processing it creatively?  Let’s see what you’ve got!

editors’ choice

creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices!


creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo


creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo


creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

Celeste Jones

creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo


creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo


creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

Jessica Nelson

creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

Megan Dill

creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise?  Visit the forum here where Sarah has challenged us with the theme “Permission to Copy“.  Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet?  Head on over here to sign up!  You can still participate in this Beautiful Ugly challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

Sign up for a risk-free membership!

creativity exercise: beautiful ugly photo

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49 Responses to “creativity exercise: beautiful ugly”

  1. Jul 05 2012 at 6:55 am #

    What incredible images! Some give me shivers, but all inspire me to look at the uglier bits of life with more creativity. Great challenge! Congrats to the featured photographers!!!

  2. Jul 05 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Beautiful! Some give me the willies, but I'm amazed how how lovely AND ugly they are at the same time. :)

  3. Jul 05 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Awesome!! Wonderful job, ladies!

  4. Jul 05 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Love these – what a fun challenge, beautifully done ladies!!

  5. Jul 05 2012 at 9:39 am #

    These are great! Wonderful job ladies!

  6. Margy
    Jul 05 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Congratulations! Highly impressive work.

  7. Jul 05 2012 at 11:01 am #

    What wonderful images! I feel challenged now to go seek out beauty in those things we typically call ugly!

  8. Jul 05 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Wow! Some of these images made me instinctively turn away but I couldn't help but take a second look. Great job! Very creative!

  9. Kristin
    Jul 05 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Wow these are some great shots!! I really enjoyed watching that thread – there were some awesome entries!

  10. Jul 05 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    What a great selection! For me, this was a great reminder of my belief that everything is inherently beautiful… it's just that sometimes we are blind to it. When we stop and look with our hearts, we can sometimes glimpse it. Spectacular!

  11. Amanda G
    Jul 05 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Those are some amazing photographs. So much beauty in life even if we don't see it at first.

  12. Julie
    Jul 05 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I love the mood of these photos and the texture in them. It makes me want to be really creative:)

  13. celeste jones
    Jul 05 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Great eye ladies!

  14. Chris
    Jul 05 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Great shots so creative!

  15. teresa
    Jul 05 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    fantastic images!

  16. Lisa Parnell
    Jul 05 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    What fun! I should do this.

  17. Jul 05 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    These are all so intriguing–great work!

  18. Jul 05 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Loved all of these. Good job everyone!

  19. Natalie
    Jul 05 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Very interesting! Some were hard to look at but I love looking at them in a different way.

  20. Davina Gruenstein
    Jul 06 2012 at 12:24 am #

    What a creative challenge! Some of the images made me gulp, for sure. But I am inspired to work harder to view unpleasant things differently.

  21. Tori L.
    Jul 06 2012 at 4:46 am #

    These are all so fantastic!! Loved them! great job everyone!

  22. Rachel Dale
    Jul 06 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Just beautiful! You gals did great :)

  23. Brandilynn2012
    Jul 06 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    Love the macro inspiration! I must get myself a macro lens!

  24. Emily
    Jul 06 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    The images are fantastic! I have to say that the mouse photo may give me nightmares though! ;)

  25. Angie
    Jul 06 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Great shots! I love and hate the mouse picture.

  26. Jamie Rubeis | Las V
    Jul 07 2012 at 6:43 am #

    These are all so amazing. I really like the hose and the pepper.

  27. Jul 07 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    awesome. great lesson in looking beyond what appeals to the eye.

  28. jerilynn
    Jul 08 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    what a great excercise!

  29. Jul 09 2012 at 12:18 am #

    Fantastic! I feel so inspired! Amazing work ladies!

  30. Laura S
    Jul 09 2012 at 5:32 am #

    These are awesome!

  31. Jul 09 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I think it's great to be challenged to see the world from a different perspective! Amazing work ladies!

  32. Angie
    Jul 11 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Love that the scavenger hunt has brought me over to the blog:) I've never participated in the creativity exercises-now I think I'll check it out.

  33. Jul 12 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Those were all so cool! Thanks for sharing :)

  34. Marsha
    Jul 13 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    amazing work ladies and a wonderfully creative challenge CM!

  35. Allison
    Jul 13 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Those images are amazing especially the macro ones!! I think this is a great way to stretch our photo skills and to start thinking outside of the box. Found a new project to shoot!!

  36. valerie
    Jul 14 2012 at 8:15 am #

    i loved looking through these!!! so gross and beautiful!!

  37. Krisanne
    Jul 14 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Fantastic challenge, and these images are amazing!

  38. Jul 14 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    WOW these are incredible. I love them all. It takes a special talent to see beauty in the ugly, and these are amazing.

  39. Jenna
    Jul 16 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Wow!! I love macro and I love when people can take beautiful pics of things that would otherwise go unnoticed. Awesome job by all of the photographers.

  40. Jessica W
    Jul 17 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Wow! I found the dead mouse most gorgeous. Who would have thought!

  41. lisaanacker
    Jul 18 2012 at 2:48 am #

    So many great photos! Nice job everyone!

  42. Amanda Harper
    Jul 18 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Oh my goodness! Those are some really amazing shots! Funny the rat one was my favorite, i mean ewwww! But it was really an amazing shot.

  43. kayla
    Jul 18 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Wow, fantastic and interesting images!

  44. Jul 18 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Beautiful images ladies!!! This was an amazing exercise to participate in, and it’s something I’ve still been thinking about nearly a month later. It really makes you think outside the box and appreciate that there is beauty all around us!


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