Staying CREATIVE … easier said than done, right? Wrong. I will actually challenge you and say that it doesn’t need to be so hard. That is not to say that you won’t hit a block at some point, because that is the nature of creativity – it ebbs and flows, kind of like the ocean. Similar to the ocean, creativity is constant and you need to be receptive for when it hits you, so be prepared.
When jobs come, especially nowadays, most photographers are grateful to have the work and gladly take on projects, whether they are creatively challenging or not. However, that does not mean you can’t create a “creative opportunity.” There are simply ways to handle shoots that may lack that “fire in the belly” feeling, and that’s where your challenge begins.
Here are some of my suggestions about how to move forward. Ultimately, the goals of the shoot are to finish with a creative product that both you AND your client are happy with, resulting in the achievement of the initial vision.
When an assignment comes across our desk and a discussion ensues with the creative director, art director, producer or designer, now is the time for you to plant the seeds for the shoot.
Get the boards and the layouts, review and make sure that you have the plan to not only achieve what is needed and requested, but explore how to do something more. Often, the creative team will want to do more and to look for options. When I speak about options and variations, keep it all in perspective because it needs to be effectively and efficiently handled. Shoot the board and shoot more – think outside of the box – challenge yourself and your team to keep pushing.
Here is a concrete example: a shoot comes in for a paper clip with a new design. Your challenge is to shoot the paper clip for an in-store display, and possible on-line usage. It may not initially seem “so interesting,” but by trying different lighting, using multiple lenses, thinking about multiple surfaces, hanging it from some fish line … you may just see that paper clip in a new way. This process will set you up to capture something wonderfully creative and deliver shots that exceed the client’s expectations!
Really? No. The client has a certain agenda or need and they are allowed to have that need – after all, THEY are the client. The sooner you understand this, the better. You are hired to execute what they want and need. Yes, you were hired for your “creativity and style” and yes they love your work, but at the end of the day, they still want what they want.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to bring something to the table – just keep it all in perspective. Shoot the must haves and then capture other shots, other angles and other ideas. You will find that you can share your vision in an easier way if you cover what the client wants first.
A project will become mundane only if you let it. Think about how lucky you are. You have an opportunity to go out and create something each and every day. I literally carry my camera with me every day, and I don’t mean my “BIG” camera, as I refer to my special SLR. I mean a small, quickie camera. I always have something on me because if I am inspired or I see something, I want to have something with me other than my iPhone to grab that picture or that thought.
My point is, you need to be receptive to “see” creative opportunities. Your creativity can sometimes be closely linked to how you see the world. Are you looking at a world filled with opportunities, or simply going through the motions? If you are just doing what you are doing to “get by” or to “make ends meet,” then my guess is that you need an adjustment in your perspective and your creativity may be a bit burned out. Take a break and then re-focus on why you started shooting and became involved in a creative industry. It is about enjoyment of life … live it, fully. Welcome how creativity comes to you, and remember it ebbs and flows, all the time.
Katherine Hennessy is a representative and consultant with a proven track record based upon a strong creative background, practical and street-smarts education, and high ethics, paired with agency experience, relationships throughout the photographic industry, and pure gut instinct. kate & company
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