To me, being a creative means being able to create something. Not just anything but something that has been inspired. Sure, I can create anything without inspiration but it just doesn’t seem to have that “umph”. You can probably ask any creative what inspires them and you could get any number of answers. I can only speak for myself as to what inspires me. For some people, it could be a specific person, like a muse. Some people might be inspired by an emotion or an aroma, music even. For me, it all depends.
Whenever I have a portrait session, I recommend having a pre-session consultation. Why? Because it allows my potential client and me to meet. During this meeting, we can assess whether or not we are a good fit, along with discussing what they are looking for in their portraits, as well as what I can provide. I have learned over the years that if my potential client and I don’t jive, then I probably won’t get inspired during the session. Yeah, that sucks but that’s truly the way it is. When I think about it, I believe I am inspired by my feelings in relation to the person or people I am going to photograph, as well as my surroundings.
These feelings aren’t deep emotions, per se. It’s just that I get different vibes from people that make me feel a certain way, which makes me want to photograph them a certain way. One of my most favorite images was produced because of the way these little girls made me feel. I remember packing up my gear to go to their house and grabbed some cheesecloth that I normally use to wrap newborns in. It was a last minute decision but an image flashed in my head that I just had to capture. The funny thing about this was that I had never met the little girls before, I had only seen pictures of them. The images of them conjured up feelings that made me want to portray them in a certain way. Below is the image:
I wanted something organic and simple. The natural tones of the cloth were exactly what I needed. Plus I told their mother that I wanted to show their natural hair and afro puffs on little girls are adorable! Locations and inanimate objects can also inspire me. Just like this serving table/tray that was at my clients home. While I was photographing my client’s newborn baby I saw the serving table/tray in the corner. I immediately told her that I wanted to photograph her daughter on it. So, we moved it from one side of the room onto the setup I had and this is what I created. I just loved the pink and brown theme. By the way, she didn’t fall asleep during the entire session and she kept looking at my strobe. She was fascinated by it.
Another image that was inspired by an inanimate object was the one below. While I was at my client’s for a maternity session, I saw this totally unique table and told them, “I’m going to put your baby on that!” This might be an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie!
This totally looks like a stack of books but it isn’t. This is a table! I just removed the drawer knobs in Photoshop. And in case you’re wondering, his mother is just off camera making sure that he doesn’t roll off. And lastly, the image itself inspired me. The moon and the stars were added in Photoshop. I wasn’t envisioning this when I captured the image but this is what I saw when I opened it up on my computer. I think I must have been in a playful mood and this is how the image made me feel.
Now that I think about it, my inspiration comes in two parts. The first part is during the capture. How does my client or environment make me feel? What do I want to portray? The second part is during the editing phase. What is the image I created trying to tell me? How should I process it? Should it be black and white or color? Should I add elements via Photoshop? What will complete my vision of this image? If I were to put it in a nutshell, I supposed my main inspiration trigger is how something makes me feel. I want the views of my image to feel what I feel or at the very least, feel something. I want to tell stories with my images or at least give you enough material where you can make up your own. As my favorite quote goes, “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” ~ David Alan Harvey I try to live by that every time I pick up my camera.