Are you hiring a photographer to "take pictures” or are you really hoping for something more? I work with a lot of moms who have all kinds of wants when it comes to family portraits or pictures of their kids. Most of them hire me to just “take pictures”, which is fine. However, I'm compelled to let the creative whims fly when I get inspired during a session. That's why they come back!
How inspiration happens?... I'm not really sure. I think you have to be in that mindset to take advantage of it, or even be aware that it’s happening. I don’t know how it happens, but I absolutely know when it's happening. And I’ve learned (the hard way) to follow that feeling, even when ‘mom’ has told me what she is looking for. It’s the rare client who knows exactly what kind of an image she wants. So when inspiration strikes, I tend roll with it.
Of course, my sessions start with “moms” idea, and then I work from there. Most of the time, however, the inspiration comes from who's in front of the camera; children, pregnant lady or an entire family. It almost always happens. And mom is almost always pleased with the creative nuances of her original idea. Had we stayed on the ‘posed’ path, we would have wound up in Same-Ol Town. Been there, done that.
The other part of my creative process happens after the picture has been taken. As in the old Darkroom Days, processing an image is where much of the magic happens. I used to spend hours in the darkroom working one image until I had made it into the image that I was happy with. Today, in the “Digital Darkroom”, many of the same tools are available, as well as a few million new ones. Coincidentally, my mother-in-law just sent me an image that she had made with her new iPad… interesting! This woman is great at a lot of things. You GO, girl!
Anyhoo, last week, I had a session with Matt, from Chicago Matt and The Rosedale Allstars (check them out; Chicago Matt & The Rosedale Allstars). He’s a jazz musician, plays guitar… lots of guitars… really well. As soon as we started the session, I knew the image that I needed to get. He told me that he’d never had his picture taken like this and said he was game for anything. He didn’t seem nervous but it was apparent that he didn’t know what to do. So I put him where I needed him and said “Okay, game on. PLAY.” And he did. It was very cool. After roughly two milli-seconds, he was in his groove. I shot and shot and shot. After a bit, he sat down and we started talking about how he got started and stories of a life of playing guitar. I was still next to the camera and that’s when I got this shot. Not bad. It was just what I had been hoping for.
Back in the studio, I worked on this image. I’d never use this same process on a newborn portrait or a maternity image. I wanted hard, rough and interesting. Matt’s hint of a smile really brings this image home for me. He’s such a nice guy, I’d be betraying his character if I had used another image with no hint of that smile. The original image is pretty cool, but the inspiration I felt at the beginning of this process made me keep going until I was happy. I had a version of the original image that's not so contrasty and hard to show Matt, but I love this image.
I sent Matt about 15 different finished images to look at and pick from. He picked this one. Only this one.
I’ve got the greatest job in the world and I’m good at it. If you’d like to see how I make it easy for you to look good, give me a call. I’ll be happy to help.