I do not consider myself a model, but an artist or storyteller when I take pictures. Though I function as a model in a traditional sense, I am also the acting stylist and photographer for my shoots. Creative self portraiture has been a hobby since high school, but I didn’t pursue regularly until I began blogging.
I tried writing about several topics for today’s post, but I kept coming back to the idea of inspiration, partly because this shoot came out so well. I’ve decided to share a few of the ways I find inspiration for a photo shoot.
I am a secret board junkie on Pinterest. The primary board I use is dedicated to elements of an editorial photo shoot. It is sorted into eight sections. They include: props, photography angles, graphic design and presentation, styling ideas, outfits, visual elements, poses, and general thematic inspiration. My public boards capture moods and aesthetics, but I pin images that specifically inspire me to my secret board.
The trick is to not pin too much so you can reference it later. Sometimes I go back and delete a pin later or move it to a public board to keep a board clear. It is a very strict and purposeful process, but it prioritizes the best ideas. This way I can reference them whenever I like without wading through hundreds of other images.
My shoots ideas almost always start with the outfit. I wrote the other day about the four methods I use to style my outfits, and they play a vital role to how I approach a shoot. For this blog I always want an outfit or an image to align with at least three of five adjectives: organic, clean, explorative, whimsical, imaginative. Once the outfit is selected I consider it’s character, bouncing off ideas from its aesthetic and mood to direct where I want to go next.
I prefer to shoot in places where it’s at least 80% natural, the rest being man made, but still of natural/minimalist substance or texture. I select a place that will enhance the outfit (not too much blending in), that will add to its story. Most of the time the settings include plenty of green, blue, brown, and other neutral tones. While the coloring is predictable, there are plenty of variables for me to play with because of the organic nature of the setting.
Most importantly, I try not to approach the setting as a backdrop. To me a backdrop is something easy to set up in a studio, and is stationary. A setting is more like a story, and just like my surroundings have some influence on my life, I let them have some say over my photoshoot. Textures, lines, and spaces of light or shadow are all elements I respond to when taking photographs. I often take multiples of the same angle just so I can play with the potential of a shot. In this shoot the lighting and blue of the sky inspired me to take pictures in the opposite direction. (I’m a sucker for blue and pink combos.)
If I like a setting but find it more of a backdrop I will add a prop. A plain background can be great for that purpose—it’s a blank slate that will work well with conceptual work. But without proper planning I struggle to engage in my photos, and I find the images lacking interest.
Did you know that every shoot I try something new? Whether it is an angle, pose, or a lighting condition I am always looking for a way to expand my knowledge of photography. Playing with my camera has brought about a few gems, and I regularly develop new ideas inspired from a creative shot I’ve taken (even if it didn’t work out)!
Rather than always applying one of my presets I will tweak the settings to follow the mood of the piece. While I stick to certain key elements (desaturating and darkening greens and yellows, softening blacks) the extremity of all the edits various from shoot to shoot. I’m still working to make it cohesive, but I’ve found I can still have a unity while attributing the right mood to each shoot.
These are the main ways I find inspiration for a photoshoot, but I find the details vary each time. Part of my focus as an artist is to always look for a fresh perspective and approach. I don’t like repeating something unless it is to improve upon it.
Where do you find inspiration for your creativity? (Particularly in photography?) I’m interested to hear!
Thanks for reading,