THREE months ago, my former student gave me a challenge to shoot her prenup in an unusual way. She wanted me to choose between a Star Wars or apocalyptic theme. Without hesitation, I accepted the challenge knowing I still have three months to think about it. As the shooting day came close, the tension started to sink in and days before the shoot, it was nothing less than panic.
When aspiring photographers ask me on how I achieve my shots, I always tell them that it doesn’t just come out of my camera. It’s a combination of a lot of planning and vision. I cannot shoot something that I cannot imagine. I think about the shot before I actually start snapping the shutter.
Although the flow of ideas becomes more vivid as you start to get closer to the shot you’re trying to achieve, some of the best shots come from the original theme with ideas pitched in by the entire team. I love working with people who understand a concept and try to add to it. The success of a shot is the effort of all the staff involved.
There were many instances that my assistant dropped an idea that changed the entire atmosphere of the set and triggered ideas that added to the success of the shoot. One of the many roles that you have as a photographer is to keep everybody anchored to the peg because it can become chaotic with all the ideas coming in from everybody.
When I plan for a shoot, I normally look for inspiration from pictures in the internet. I try to look for photos that closely relate to the mood and peg that I imagined. This helps me to communicate my thoughts to the client and the rest of my staff. Normally the type of lighting, styling and posing is suggested in the photos. The set of photos is called mood board.
One photographer asked me where I get my visions and how I trained myself to create a vision. I normally surround myself with magazine subscriptions and I follow a lot of photographers that I find very inspiring base on my taste. I buy at least two fashion magazines per month and some few outdated sale magazines. I can do it because I love doing it, otherwise, find another genre.
Creativity cannot be forced but it can be nurtured to become better at it. I still go blank a lot of times in front of clients and I hate it. This is where planning comes in because you get to bring out some of your pre-planned sets. Unfortunately, you cannot only rely on your planned sets, you have to modify and develop on the fly.
On top of all the antics that I do, my best advice to train your brain to become more creative is to simply just shoot more. Whether it’s commissioned or just for portfolio. The more you shoot, the better you become. Don’t settle for anything less. Always give it your best for the sake of both you and your subject.
Keep on shooting, everyone!