Friday, November 21, 2008
Unleash Your Photographic Creativity
Plan to be Spontaneous
I like this photograph. It works, for me, on several different levels. I have used it in photography workshops to talk about "The Rule of Thirds", and the use of colour, and backgrounds, and posing techniques, and the use of "space" in an image and humour in photography. It's a shot of Limerick-born actress and comedienne Frances Healy taken in her home City, and I like to think that it shows something of where she started and where she is now.
But that's not really why I like it. I like it because I had no idea that I was going to take it 15 seconds before I pressed the shutter. And, had someone suggested the idea to me, and I'd thought about it for a while, I would have probably not done it. It's not really my type of shot. Generally, I prefer my portrait shots to have the subject big in the frame, and with a balanced, symmetrical feel to the composition. Given the time to consider a shot of a woman in an expensive dress and a fabulous hair-do, I doubt I would have come up with graffiti as a suitable back-drop. Plus, I definitely wouldn't have thought about asking her to pull a funny face.
I was on a shoot - of Frances, in Limerick City - for a popular lifestyle magazine, with an entourage of 4 other people (art director, make-up artist, clothes stylist and set dresser) and we were walking from one carefully scouted location to the next one, when we took a detour along an alley way and I saw the graffiti-covered wall.
"Oh, I like that wall", I muttered to the art director, and kept on walking. Frances stood against the wall saying "quick shot then" and I lined up the camera (making sure I put the wall in the first two-thirds of the frame - but not thinking about why I was doing that) and said "lets do something different to the others; pull a funny face." There it was; done. No make up artist to tidy the make up, no clothes stylist to "joosh" the dress, no set dresser to add extra graffiti or paint out some of it, no tripod to steady the camera. And, especially, no time to think about it, realize that it was not my "usual" way of doing things and change my mind back to how it should be done.
Coming out of my comfort zone and being spontaneous is probably the most difficult thing for me to do. It's much safer to stay where I usually stay - doing what I usually do.
But I'm now beginning to wonder just how many times I have thought long and hard about a situation - or a prospective situation - and formulated a careful plan. Have they always worked? And, how many times have I said at the end of all that configuring: "No, that would never work", and ditched the carefully considered idea, lock stock and barrel.
I wonder though, just how many good results have come from actions I have taken spontaneously. Or how many good photographs I have taken by doing the opposite of what I would usually do?
More than I realize, probably.