- By rglohre
Here’s a great post from Chase Jarvis – Seattle based Commercial Photographer and DP.
Chase talks about habits that help spur your creativity and create great work. I’m going to build on the shoulders of a giant and line my 7 out, print them and put them over my desk for a kick in the pants reminder when I need it.
Some are similar, some are different…I hope you take something away from his post or mine…
1. Shoot. Everything and anything. Using your camera of choice or even better your cell phone. I know when I’m constrained, limited let’s say, to one lens or one piece of equipment that I focus less on the tools and more on the vision. This is true of photo, video or even quick sketches of a concept. Take away all of the crazy gear options and it boils down to just you and an idea.
2. Read. Read everything you can. Be it books on technique, vision or business. The more you read, the more you learn, the more you learn, the more you have in your noodle, the less you have to think through things on the fly.
In relation to taking photos: Reactivity and pure emotion are triggered when you don’t have to think through the technical…what f-stop, what type of lens…since you’ve done your research, committed it to memory and practiced it, you should have to “experiment” less on site and just click. Read technical books and even other photographers blogs (Chase Jarvis & David Hobby are great resources for “how to”)
In relation to the business end: Having researched the industry on best business practices, terminology, licensing, copyright, etc., you’ll be well prepared to speak to clients and customers in a professional and educated manner. Not knowing enough about the industry and how all of the dynamics come into play will definitely handicap you. You’ll spend time playing catch up with your competition and likely loose out on business because you don’t know the ins and outs of yours. Visit these sites for great info: ASMP, Leslie Burns, APhotoEditor
In relation to the creative end: Reading makes you think, thinking is good for getting the juices flowing. I don’t care whether you read Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick or Calvin & Hobbes. Reading helps your brain visualize. Most novels don’t come with pretty pictures or neatly drawn cartoons. They make you create the scene in your head. That’s likely to be exactly what your clients will want from you. Take their creative ideas, turn them into visions! It’s like lifting weights for the creative side of your brain.
3. Solicit ideas from others. If you’re feeling stale and in a rut creatively. Get others to share ideas and input. Don’t let it go there…run with the ideas. All too often us creatives get chained in by our own vision for a shoot. Get outside of your box…rummage around in someone else’s box and see what turns up. Worst case, you don’t like what you’ve created…best case (and usually the case) you’ve grown creatively.
4. Simplify. Go out and create photos with less equipment than you would normally use. From above #1…if you take away a lot of the technology and “junk” that we often feel necessary, you’ll find that you have to focus on the subject rather than what power your strobes are at, what modifier will create the perfect light, where the reflector cards should be. Looking at a scene more “organically” will force you to use what is there naturally and will help you create better photos. Every once in a while I’ll get frustrated with a light or a transmitter…at that point I say – DITCH IT! and try to shoot something naturally. Some of my best work has been created that way. It’s not only liberating, it’s damn nice not to have to lug a carload of gear!
5. Take a trip. Get out of your office, your studio, your house. Get out and put yourself in the world. People often complain that “I don’t have anything to shoot.” BS. Go to the grocery, a local restaurant, a bike shop, a gym, a car dealership…find something that’s right in front of you. A shot of a city street can be made very dramatic by your position, angle, lens choice or use of motion.
6. Make a friend. Often times we as creatives feel much more comfortable on our own, hidden away doing our own thing. Get out of that mindset and meet people. I’ve been putting myself out there a lot more lately with respect to making contacts, creating relationships etc.
One good example: I had been avoiding joining the ASMP for a long time. Not because I didn’t believe in what they were about and what they were doing, but because I am comfortable in company of people I know. That is not always a good thing. After joining recently, I attended a Pricing Aerobics event at the ASMP-OVC given by fellow Cincinnati Photographer Todd Joyce. Having done a lot of research on pricing, licensing and contracts I wasn’t expecting much. That said, I was WRONG. (As my wife smiles since those three words are now immortalized for her review)
I learned from other creatives how they approach contracts/estimates/verbage for local vs. national vs. editorial. I came out with a few new ideas that I’ll be adapting to how my studio operates and how we write estimates and contracts. Those changes will not only benefit me, but my clients as well. I would not have had those ideas if I had stayed in my shell.
7. Take a break. That’s all, just take a break. Enjoy your family, your hobbies, your pet…whatever. Just stop and enjoy life. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE working for myself. While working for myself I often feel like I’m ALWAYS working. I have to kick myself sometimes and be reminded that the reason I do work for myself is so that I can enjoy my family, my life. Don’t be afraid to set it all aside. It will be there tomorrow…next week…whatever. As my own boss, it’s hard to allow myself a vacation. You need it though. You don’t want to be burned out…trust me it does not take long if you never take a break. As Chase says in his “Quiet” portion…it’s often those times that give us some space to allow the creative juices to flow in at a moment you least expect.