Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: September 2017

8 - Photography and Creativity

from Part II - Creativity in the Traditional Arts

This chapter reviews some aspects of creativity that are common to many artistic domains and particularly aspects that are distinctive about photography (e.g., the violence/entrapment metaphor, the role of timing and light, the issue of whether photography is merely a reproduction of reality with minimal creativity). Although photographers typically do not concern themselves with definitions of creativity, many have offered suggestions on how to judge photographic creativity which aids the measurement process. In this chapter we cover creativity in photography based on three different perspectives: (1) creative photographs, (2) expertise in creative photography, and (3) creative personality as studied through photographic autoportraits and photo essays. Consistent with the expansion of the literature, the rapid growth of digital technology suggests that this domain of creativity is entering its golden age.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity across Domains
  • Online ISBN: 9781316274385
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Adams, A. (2007). Introduction. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” In Jaeger, A.-C. (Ed.) Image makers, image takers: Interviews with today’s leading curators, editors, and photographers (pp. 612). New York, NY: Thames & Hudson.
Aschermann, E., Dannenberg, U., & Schulz, A.-P. (1998). Photographs as Retrieval Cues for Children. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 12, 5566.
Axelsson, Ö. (2007). Towards a psychology of photography: Dimensions underlying aesthetic appeal of photographs. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105, 411434.
Back, M. D., Stopfer, J. M., Vazire, S., Gaddis, S., Schmukle, S. C., Egloff, B., & Gosling, S. D. (2010). Facebook profiles reflect actual personality, not self-idealization. Psychological Science, 21(3), 372374.
Bayles, D. & Orland, T. (2001). Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. Santa Barbara, CA: Image Continuum Press.
Beilin, H. (1991). Developmental aesthetics and the psychology of photography. In Downs, R. M., Liben, L. S. & Palermo, D. S. (Eds.), Visions of aesthetics, the environment and development. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum Assoc. Publishers.
Berger, J. (1980). Uses of photography. In Berger, J. (Ed.), About looking. New York: Pantheon.
Berger, J. (2013). Appearances. In Berger, J. (Ed.), Understanding a photograph (1982). New York: Aperture.
Bernat, E., Patrick, C. J., Benning, S. D., & Tellegen, A. (2006). Effects of picture content and intensity on affective physiological response. Psychophysiology, 43, 93103.
Brogowski, L. (1989). Idioms: A silent face of photography. Leonardo, 22(2), 159163.
Bruner, J. S. (1962). The conditions of creativity. In Gruber, H. E., Terrell, G., & Wertheimer, M. (Eds.), Contemporary approaches to creative thinking: A symposium held at the University of Colorado. The Atherton Press behavioral science series. New York, NY: Atherton Press.
Burke, P. A., & Dollinger, S. J. (2005). “A picture’s worth a thousand words”: Language use in the autophotographic essay. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 536548.
Carroll, H. (2014). Read this if you want to take great photographs. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
Cartier-Bresson, H. (1999). The mind’s eye writings on photography and photographers. Millerton, N.Y: Aperture.
Casey, P. F., & Dollinger, S. J. (2007). College students’ alcohol-related problems: An autophotographic approach. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 51(2), 825.
Chatterjee, A. (2013). The aesthetic brain: How we evolved to desire beauty and enjoy art 1st edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Christofides, E., Muise, A., Desmarais, S. (2009). Information disclosure and control on Facebook: Are they two sides of the same coin or two different processes? Cyberpsychol Behavior 12(3):341345.
Cleveland, P. (2005). How much visual power can a magazine take? Design Studies, 26, 271317.
Combs, J. M., & Ziller, R. C. (1977). Photographic self-concept of counselees. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 452455.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Implications of a systems perspective for the study of creativity. In Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.), Handbook of creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Cyr, D. J. (1968). Photography: An interactive process. Art Education, 21(7), 4043.
Dollinger, S. J. (1996). Autophotographic identities of young adults: With special reference to alcohol, athletics, achievement, religion and work. Journal of Personality Assessment, 67, 384398.
Dollinger, S. J. (2001). Religious identity: An autophotographic study. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 11, 7192.
Dollinger, S. J. (2003). Need for uniqueness, need for cognition, and creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 37, 99116.
Dollinger, S. J. (2006). Autophotographic individuality predicts creativity: A seven-year follow-up. Journal of Creative Behavior, 40, 111124.
Dollinger, S. J. (2007). Creativity and conservatism. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 10251035.
Dollinger, S. J. (2011). “Standardized minds” or individuality? Admissions tests and creativity revisited. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5, 329341.
Dollinger, S. J. (2016). “You are as you read”: Do students’ reading interests contribute to their individuality? Reading Psychology, 37, 126.
Dollinger, S. J. (2017). Much more than selfies: Autophotography, individuality, and creativity. In Feist, G. J., Reiter-Palmon, R., and Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of creativity and personality research (pp. 323354). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dollinger, S. J., Burke, P. A., & Gump, N. (2007). Creativity and values. Creativity Research Journal, 19, 91103.
Dollinger, S. J., & Clancy, S. M. (1993). Identity, self, and personality. II: Glimpses through the autophotographic eye. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 10641071.
Dollinger, S. J., & Dollinger, S. M. C. (1997). Individuality and identity exploration: An autophotographic study. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 337354.
Dollinger, S. J., & Dollinger, S. M. C. (2003). Individuality in young and middle adulthood: An autophotographic study. Journal of Adult Development, 10, 227236.
Dollinger, S. J., Preston, L. A., O’Brien, S. P., & DiLalla, D. L. (1996). Individuality and relatedness of the self: An autophotographic study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 12681278.
Dollinger, S. J., Robinson, N. M., & Ross, V. J. (1999). Photographic individuality, breadth of perspective, and creativity. Journal of Personality, 67, 623644.
Dollinger, S. J., Ross, V. J., & Preston, L. A. (2002). Intellect and individuality. Creativity Research Journal, 14, 213226.
Dollinger, S. J., Urban, K.K., & James, T. A. (2004). Creativity and openness: Further validation of two creative product measures. Creativity Research Journal, 16, 3547.
Domino, G., & Giuliani, I. (2007). Creativity in three samples of photographers: A validation of the Adjective Check List Creativity scale. Creativity Research Journal, 10, 193200.
Ekman, P. (1965). Differential communication of affect by head and body cues. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2, 726735.
Endsley, M. R. (2006). Expertise and situation awareness. In Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R. R. (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fayena-Tawil, F., Kozbelt, A., & Sitaras, L. (2011). Think global, act local: A protocol analysis comparison of artists’ and nonartists’ cognitions, metacognitions, and evaluations while drawing. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5, 135145.
Feltovich, P. J., Prietula, M. J., Ericsson, K. A. (2006). Studies of expertise from psychological perspectives. In Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R.R. (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp. 4167). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fleenor, J. W., & Taylor, S. (2004). The assessment of creativity. In Hersen, M. (Ed.), Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment (pp. 7584). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Focal Power (2009). The Photo Quotes Archive. Retrieved on August 10, 2009, from
Gampat, C. (2014, December 23). How to pick one photo out of several thousand: An inside look at how we judge photo contests. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from
Garry, M., & Wade, K. A. (2005). Actually, a picture is worth less than 45 words: Narratives produce more false memories than photographs do. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12(2), 359366.
Getzels, J. W., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1976). The creative vision: A longitudinal study of problem finding in art. New York: Wiley.
Ginicola, M. M., Smith, C., & Trzaska, J. (2012). Counseling through images: Using photography to guide the counseling process and achieve treatment goals. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 7, 310329.
Glăveanu, V. P. (2010). Principles for a cultural psychology of creativity. Culture Psychology, 16(2), 147163.
Gosling, S.D., Augustine, A.A., Vazire, S., Holtzman, N., and Gaddis, S. (2011). Manifestations of personality in Online Social Networks: Self-reported Facebook-related behaviors and observable profile information. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, & Social Networking, 14(9), 483488.
Halsman, P. (1961). Halsman of the creation of photographic ideas. New York: Ziff-Davis.
Hattersley, R. (1962). A handy kit for do-it-yourself critics. In Traub, C. H., Heller, S., and Bell, A. B. (Eds.), The education of a photographer (pp. 194198). New York, NY: Allsworth Press.
Hawkins (undated). Elements of a merit image. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from
Henry, W. P., & Solano, C. H. (1983). Photographic style and personality: Developing a coding system for photographs. Journal of Psychology, 115, 7987.
Hekkert, P., & Van Wieringen, P. C. W. (1996). Beauty in the eye of expert and nonexpert beholders: A study in the appraisal of art. American Journal of Psychology, 109, 389407.
Herpertz, S. C., Kunert, H. J. Schwenger, U. B., & Sass, H. (1999). Affective responsiveness in borderline personality disorder: A psychophysiological approach. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 15501556.
Hurn, D., & Jay, B. (2008). On being a photographer: a practical guide. Anacortes, WA: LensWork Publishing.
Ivcevic, Z., & Ambady, N. (2013). Face to (face)book: The two faces of social behavior? Journal of Personality, 81(3), 290301.
Jaeger, AC. (2007). Image makers, image takers: Interviews with today’s leading curators, editors and photographers. New York: NY: Thames & Hudson.
Karl, K., Peluchette, J., & Schlaegel, C. (2010). Who’s posting Facebook faux pas? A cross-cultural examination of personality differences. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18(2), 174186.
Kaslow, F. W., & Friedman, J. (1977). Utilization of family photos and movies in family therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 3, 1925.
Kozbelt, A. (2006). Dynamic evaluation of Matisse’s 1935 “Large Reclining Nude.” Empirical Studies of the Arts, 24, 119137.
Kozbelt, A. (2008). Longitudinal hit ratios of classical composers: Reconciling Darwinian and expertise acquisition perspectives on lifespan creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2, 221235.
Kozbelt, A., & Serafin, J. (2009). Dynamic evaluation of high- and low-creativity drawings by artist and non-artist raters. Creativity Research Journal, 21, 349360.
Kulich, R. J., & Goldberg, R.W. (1978). Differences in the production of photographs: A potential assessment technique. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47(1), 223229.
Lavretiev, A. (1994). Inventions from photography: Light, shadow and optical transformations. Leonardo, 27(5), 383386.
Mahaffey, A. L., Bryan, A., & Hutchison, K. E. (2005). Using startle eye blink to measure the affective component of anti-gay bias. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27, 3745.
Marcus, B., Machilek, F., Schütz, A. (2006). Personality in cyberspace: Personal web sites as media for personality expressions and impressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(6), 10141031.
Martindale, C. (1994). How can we measure a society’s creativity? In Boden, M. A. (Ed.), Dimensions of creativity (pp. 159198). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Mayer, R. E. (1999). Fifty years of creativity research. In Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.), Handbook of creativity (pp. 449460). Cambridge: Cambridge University.
McManus, I. C., Zhou, F. A., I’Anson, S., Waterfield, L., Stover, K., & Cook, R. (2011). The psychometrics of photographing cropping: The influence of colour, meaning, and expertise. Perception, 40, 332357.
Milgram, S. (1977). The image freezing machine. In Milgram, S. (Ed.), The individual in a social world: Essays and experiments (pp. 339350). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Navab, A. D. (2001). Re-picturing of photography: A language in the making. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 35(1), 6984.
Nuhn (2011, April 25). Five factors that judges consider in reviewing photo contest entries. National Wildlife. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from
Pennebaker, J. W., Francis, M. E., & Booth, R. J. (2001). Linguistic inquiry and word count (LIWC): LIWC2001 [Computer software and manual]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Perlson, H. (2015, April 10). “Spying” artist wins privacy case. Artnet News. Retrieved on July 13, 2015, from
PhotoWings (undated). Interview: Sandra Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on August 23, 2015, from
Quinn, S. (2015, Jan 27). Eyetracking photojournalism: New research explores what makes a photograph memorable, shareable, and worth publishing. NPPA The Voice of Visual Journalists. Retrieved on August 23, 2015, from
Read, S. (2013). Exhibiting photography: A practical guide to displaying your work, second edition., Burlington, MA: Focal Press.
Risch, C. (2014, February 7). MoMA’s new chief photo Curator turns to studio photography for first show. Retrieved on August 23, 2015, from
Rodden, K. & Wood, K. R. (2003). How do people manage their digital photographs? In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, (pp. 409416), New York, NY: ACM.
Sawyer, R. K. (2006). Explaining creativity. The science of human innovation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schacter, D. L., Koutstaal, W., Johnson, M. K., Gross, M. S., & Angell, K. E. (1997). False recollection induced by photographs: A comparison of older and younger adults. Psychology and Aging, 12, 203215.
Serafin, J. (2013). Expertise in artistic photography. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 74(6-B)(E), 2013. Accession number: 2013–99241–028.
Shore, S. (2007). The nature of photographs (2nd edn.). London: Phaidon Press Limited.
Simonton, D. K. (1997). Creative productivity: A predictive and explanatory model of career landmarks and trajectories. Psychological Review, 104, 6689.
Simonton, D. K. (2011). Creativity and discovery as blind variation and selective retention: Multiple-variant definitions and blind-sighted integration. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(3), 222228.
Simonton, D. K. (2012). Quantifying creativity: Can measures span the spectrum? Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(1), 100104.
Solso, R. L. (2001). Brain activities in a skilled versus a novice artist: An fMRI study. Leonardo, 34, 3134.
Sontag, S. (1977). On photography. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
Szarkowski, J. (1973). Looking at photographs: 100 pictures from the Museum of Modern Art. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.
The Coming World of Photography (1944). Popular photography. Retrieved on July 10, 2015, from
Thein, M. (2012a). What makes an outstanding image? Retrieved on July 10, 2015, from
Thein, M. (2012b). The process of editing. Retrieved on July 10, 2015, from
Tinio, P. P. L., & Leder, H. (2013). The means to art’s end: Styles, creative devices, and the challenge of art. In Bristol, A. S., Kaufman, J. C., & Vartanian, O. (Eds.), The neuroscience of creativity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Tinio, P. P. L., Leder, H., & Strasser, M., (2011). Image quality and the aesthetic judgment of photographs: Contrast, sharpness, and grain teased apart and put together. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(2), 165176.
Tinio, P. P. L., & Leder, H. (2009). Natural scenes are indeed preferred, but image quality might have the last word. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3, 5256.
Vidulich, R. N., & Krevanick, F. W. (1966). Racial attitudes and emotional response to visual representations of the Negro. Journal of Social Psychology, 68, 8593.
Walker, J. L. (1991). Photograph as lifeline – Facing mortality. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 45, 124128.
Wallas, G. (1926). Art of thought. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Wignall (2009, October 12). National Geographic’s Jim Richardson: How I judge photo contests. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from
Yu, C. (2004). Aesthetics of photography: Combining the viewer’s and the artist’s standpoints. Art Criticism, 19(1), 6374.
Zago, M., McIntyre, J., Senot, P., & Lacquaniti, F. (2009). Visuo-motor coordination and internal models for object interception. Experimental Brain Research, 192(4), 571604.
Zehr (2009). Creating the “other” in research, photography, justice. Retrieved on July 10, 2015, from
Zebrowitz, L. A., Hall, J. A., Murphy, N. A., & Rhodes, G. (2002). Looking smart and looking good: Facial cues to intelligence and their origins. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 238249.
Ziller, R. C. (1977). A phenomenological utilization of photographs. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 7, 172182.
Ziller, R. C., & Lewis, D. C. (1981). Orientations: Self, social, and environmental percepts through auto-photography. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 7, 338343.
Ziller, R. C., & Rorer, B. A. (1985). Shyness-environment interaction: A view from the shy side through auto-photography. Journal of Personality, 53, 626639.
Ziller, R. C. (1990/2000). Photographing the self. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Zillmann, D., Gibson, R., & Sargent, S. L. (1999). Effects of photographs in news-magazine reports on issue perception. Media Psychology, 1, 207228.