Of all the things you do as a photographer, coming up with creative ideas is probably one of the most important. Unfortunately, it is also one of the toughest.
You can always buy the latest and greatest camera gear or download the newest Photoshop filters. You can learn the “rules” of photography, like composition and posing. You can even check out my humble YouTube channel if you want. There are TONS of things you can learn about photography. What you can’t learn is originality. That is why developing your creativity and artistry is so important. Artistic talent will out-perform high-end equipment any day of the week.
Inspiration is all around us. When you become better at recognizing it, you will tap into a huge resource of great ideas. It just takes practice.
A couple of months ago, a couple came to the studio for portraits of their baby daughter. During the planning stages, we had discussed that the baby’s grandmother was an artist and had actually painted a scene from the couple’s wedding. They brought the painting with them and we decided to incorporate it into a few of the portraits. The question was – how do you incorporate a painting into a studio session of a baby?
The painting was a scene from the couple’s wedding. It had wonderful colors and great architectural lines. I decided it would make a great backdrop for the picture of Dad with his daughter. The only issue was the fact that the painting was vertical and wouldn’t provide enough coverage for the background – without digitally stretching it. Luckily, as the portrait started to develop, I realized that we didn’t need it to extend to the right. Instead, I just cropped the image right through the middle of Dad’s face. In most cases, this would be a big no-no, but in this case it actually worked. It drew the attention away from Dad and focused it back on the baby. The painting and Dad are both secondary subjects – leaving the baby as the clear star of the shot.
Bringing It All Together
The thing I liked most about the final image was the powerful storytelling. At the very least, we had involved the grandmother’s artwork into the image – but there was more. It helped to tell a story. The cropping created a sense of Dad moving out of the scene. In my mind, he was moving away from the wedding and into the next phase of his life – fatherhood. The portrait also contains references to three important women in his life. His mother with the painting, his daughter on his shoulder and his wife by the wedding ring on his finger. It was truly a complete portrait.
If you just allow yourself to try creative things, you will be amazed at the results. I’ve created some images that I’m really proud of this year – but this one has to be one of my favorites.
So what do YOU think. How do you push yourself to be creative and recognize opportunities for artistic growth?