It’s a common belief that creativity is a skill you either have or you don’t. In reality, all creativity is a process through which you perceive things and situations differently than others around you. Finding an alternative point of view takes hard work, but gets easier over time. Sometimes we get lost in our thoughts or just don’t know how to come up with new ideas. So, in this article, I’ve outlined a straightforward process for you to come up with unique concepts for your shoots and turn them into great images.
I’ve heard countless big names in the industry explain that being a photographer is about finding solutions and thinking fast. In summary, a photographer needs to be creative. Some people can come up with original concepts easily, others have to work harder. But it’s like everything in life. Each of us is designed to be better at something. But gifted or not, everyone still has work to do to perfect their craft. When it comes to creativity, if you know the process you need to go through to make it easier and more powerful, then over time it can become second nature. So how do we come up with crazy ideas for epic shoots?
Turn off your screen
It almost makes me laugh typing this while typing on my laptop. But yes, turn off your screen. You probably won’t find the next great idea by watching HBO, browsing your Facebook newsfeed, or playing Candy Crush on your iPad.
While televisions, computers, phones, and other electronic devices have their place in our lives, they tend to fill our minds with empty thoughts. Instead of staring blankly at a screen, take a few minutes and meditate. Learn to clear your mind, center yourself, become aware of your surroundings and your feelings. If meditating is hard for you at first, try going for a 20-minute walk and focusing on nothing but your breathing. You could also try an app to learn meditation.
If you are used to being busy all the time and running from meeting to meeting, this will be very difficult at first. But believe me, if you can take just 20 minutes, once or twice a day, to clear your head, you’ll be much more efficient and your ideas will be crystal clear. When your mind is busy, it’s hard to be creative because you can’t really think coherently.
Open your mind and your heart
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to start doing yoga here – although it would be a great idea. Once your mind is blank, stress will be relieved and concepts will come to mind much more easily. But you must learn to see them.
Again, the inspiration for a truly creative shoot doesn’t come from a picture that another photographer has already taken. Even if you take just one element of it, you will subconsciously tend to copy more than just that.
Good ideas come from your head, from your feelings, from your emotions, from your heart. Right now some of you are probably wondering if I smoked something I shouldn’t have… Trust me I didn’t. That’s all true. It is difficult to understand only at the beginning, and even more so to put it into practice.
Just thinking about your feelings and emotions is often not enough, it doesn’t go deep enough. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and start writing how you feel. Write a short story with what you have in mind, draw your feelings… Just move the pen and see what comes to mind.
Find an idea and nurture it
Your note isn’t empty anymore, is it? Well, then your idea is there. It may seem like nothing now, but re-read what you just wrote in a few minutes, tomorrow, or in a few days and try to imagine how you might put that in front of your lens. How could you put it?
You could maybe try working with a makeup artist and come up with some out of this world makeup, or even try to do it yourself.
You could create a scenery that shows what’s on your mind, how you’re feeling, or something that’s going through your mind.
Don’t forget that people don’t need to understand what you are expressing through your images. You can make it as obvious or as abstract as you like. The idea, emotion, feeling or story you want to communicate is the initial idea, but from there it can grow into something else entirely.
How can I be sure that my idea is good?
But not so fast! Before you go into production, you have to think a little more. It’s very easy to confuse a good idea with common sense.
A good idea should be a challenge, something you’ve never done before, even something you’ve never seen before. It has to be some kind of experiment where you have to take risks. Not the kind of risk you might find yourself hanging from a helicopter. No, just go out there and create something you’re not comfortable with. Maybe you lack the technical knowledge, maybe you need to assemble a large team that you can’t handle, or maybe you just need to shoot in the studio, something you’ve never tried before.
The good sense, on the other hand, would be to make something that can be understood, even easily observed and brought to life. Common sense drives you to stay within your comfort zone and simply create a project that you know you can accomplish.
If you just have to watch for your idea to come to life, chances are it’s not a good one. You have to sweat to get it! Put your hands and brain to work, leave your eyes for later when the design will be crucial.
Draw, analyze, refine
Now that you have your idea in mind and are sure it’s good, let’s refine it further. After all, why stop with a good idea when we could make it great?
Take another sheet of paper and now draw your picture, draw what you have in mind. Think of it as the first draft of your picture, not a drawing. It doesn’t need to be polished and refined, it’s just for you to better envision what you need to face. Analyze your sketch, find three positive and three negative aspects.
Keep the three positives, but think about the negatives. Why are they a problem or not working? Is it a lighting problem? Is it a composition thing? Would they ask you to do something that is absolutely not possible? Try to find a solution or alternative for them. Then redraw.
Do the same with your second draft: three positives, three negatives and analyze. Create another draft.
Never be satisfied, always keep going
Usually three drafts are enough. But never feel satisfied or satisfied, always try to push it further. It’s easy to produce something anyone can do, to copy someone else’s pictures, or to do the same thing day after day. However, it takes courage, effort and re-evaluation to create unique images.
The process I have outlined for you is a starting point. So don’t be afraid to do better because it certainly won’t please everyone. Try it a few times, see what works, what doesn’t, and change it. If you had to remember just one of those 1,300 words, looking for ideas is in your heart and in your head, not on a screen. Large ones come from within and very rarely from a simple “cmd+c, cmd+v”.