Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Life is a Beach

One of the pleasures about being a photographer is that our creative life is not client dependent. For example, my shooting schedule does not vary that greatly between the times when the studio is busy with clients and those times in between. I am constantly shooting and exploring my visual world.

So where does the inspiration come from? Last week I was stuck in traffic on Chicago’s infamous Eden’s freeway when I heard somebody on the radio say the phrase: “Fragile Beauty.” Those words struck a chord, which I will explore photographically. Later that day, Nancy Morey from Cramer-Krasselt asked me, “What have you been thinking about?” We talked for a while about the relationship between abstraction and universality. Both these encounters will somehow work their way into my pictures.

For me inspiration can also come from an inspiring model. I will meet somebody at a casting and will find their look, and more importantly, their personality, captivating. I will then develop shooting scripts around what intrigues me about them. The script ideas often come from my day-to-day life. I then set the scene and let the talent act it out. It is during this acting that I seek to catch the spark of life.

To catch this spark I often expand the emotional gestalt of a shoot by having the talent playing the scene from several points of view. If I am after a romantic couple I will also have the couple act as if the are angry, mad, contemplative or bored. By swinging back and forth through different emotions the talent will often reach a truer sense of their feelings. This exercise also builds trust between the models. Most of our emotions are not pure, they have many shades, many sides, and they are complicated. Powerful photography has that sense of the complicated nature of our emotional lives.

Trust is a key feeling in selling. Building trust on the set I believe is key to building trust in a photograph. By giving our talent as real of a world as possible to act in, they more easily enter into their roles. One of the neat things about shooting digitally for example, is that the talent and the clients can see the scenes take shape on a large monitor. Once they see how great it looks, their trust factor and their confidence goes way up which helps to enhance the success of a shoot. Like baseball, you have to round all your bases in order to reach home.

On many days in our rush to meet life’s demands we don’t hear those voices of inspiration very well. It is kind of like being offered a gift but we are too preoccupied to accept it. I try to live with my arms open.

Twyla Tharp in her new and wonderful book, “The Creative Habit,” talks about the relationship between physical acts and creative ones. She says if the brain is stuck move the body. I say, if the picture is stuck, move the camera, move the lights, and move the models.


Zave Smith

No comments: