Thursday, December 8, 2011

Inspirations. Visions. Mutations.

Statuesquest. Brittany. First frame of the set. This was actually a test shot. A "mistake" if you will.
D3/50mm f/1.8D, 1/200, f5, ISO200.

I was going to break this up into two posts but I think it's really one and the same and explains a lot of things. First of all don't take this the wrong way. There's no right or wrong, it's just "different". I'm about to explain to you the method to my inspirational madness.

The thing is, I don't read blogs, I don't surf YouTube, I don't spend all day on Facebook, I don't partake in forums (anymore), I don't chat online, I don't really read magazines (outside of the 1-2 I had subscriptions to).

I've said this before on my blog but I basically live in a cave. I'm "self-contained". Why? Because I'm easily overwhelmed by visuals. If I surf the web, or read magazines or play on FB etc. I'm bound to get inundated by images and those images usually have me asking, "Why didn't I think of that?" or "I wish I shot that" or "Gosh, that's awesome... my images aren't nearly as good".

Call it self-defense. I keep the outside world, mostly outside.

Where and how am I inspired? Interestingly enough, mostly "historically" and internally. "Historically" because occasionally some images will make their way through the "filters" (in this day and age how can you live without seeing billboards, commercials, etc.) and they will make a mental impact. Usually these images get filed away in my head only to surface much later in time. So by the time I think about it and process it, it's probably already very old "stuff". The best way to describe those images is that they're no longer "current"... they're just remnants of old public images that now float around in my head.

Secondly, I'm internally driven. I have ideas. Not many. But a few precious ones. They're near and dear to my heart. They are reflections of my identity and they are who I am. They can be shared but they can't be stolen because they can't be replicated. I believe you can't really "copy" a style because a style is inherently part of someone. It's why unlike other photographers, I have no fear of teaching my "so-called" style. I'm constantly evolving and changing. By the time I teach it, I'm on to something different. I don't claim to have a "style" per se anyway.

Simply put, you can't have my visions, you must have your own. It must be this way because we are different people.

What do I do to inspire myself from within?

Now keep in mind this only applies to unpaid testing where you can try new things. One thing I do is make "mistakes". Sometimes on purpose, most of the time accidental. One great thing about my shooting style is that it's completely dynamic and improvisational. It's usually not planned. I have no preconceptions of what I am going to do. Preconceptions aka. expectations can hold me back and limit what I want to do in the moment. I don't want that and so I don't have preconceptions.

When I'm shooting, I move quickly and swiftly and I don't think a whole lot. I simply go with it. I'm sure there are a billion mental calculations that are all happening at the same time but like any great jazz musician or athlete, I shoot in the moment.

And I shoot a lot of frames. Enough where I make "mistakes". Lots of them.

And like life needing mutation to evolve, I need these mistakes to grow. I need to see new versions of the old visions. Versions that I couldn't come up with cerebrally or analytically. New renditions of stuff that I've perhaps shot thousands of times and seen millions of times. I can't make this stuff up. It just happens. So my growth is organic and analogous to mutation in evolution.

What's a mistake? Maybe a misfire in a strobe? Maybe a mis-crop? Maybe a mis-angle? Maybe a mis-timed shutter? Maybe a mis-set camera? It could be anything and it could be everything. But these mistakes give me new things to look at. New ideas. New versions of the old stuff. My "mistakes" basically giving me new inspiration but inspiration that's organic and non-threatening, unlike external inspiration. External inspiration sometimes makes me question my talents. That's damaging for me. Internal inspiration is safe. For me it's fit for consumption. This way, I can preserve my fragile ego and keep developing my style.

Does it work for me? Yup. Will it work for you? Dunno. It's my cup of tea. It's how I do things because it's specific to my photography-DNA.

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