Is there a formula to becoming creative in photography? In one word, no. While I was working on my year long project about Vancouver (www.instagram.com/instayunman/), I found that even if I did certain things regularly I was not guaranteed to get amazing pictures. Sorry everyone!
However, having said that, I do believe that there is a process that you can pay attention to that increases your chances of taking a cool photo. What I hope to do in this and many of my upcoming posts is to illuminate what the process might be, and what tasks might be involved to assist in that process. Also, as I start to read more books about creativity, I will highlight some of the ideas and test it out photographically. In other words, I will experiment with this new knowledge, and post the results (in pictures) online. If you have any ideas or comments, I would love to hear from you. Together, I hope we can become more creative and better photographers!
So what have I learned from my year long project so far (check out my Instagram account: @instayunman)? One of the things would be I think knowing what is the process in creating a good photo? In my experience, I think you could describe the process in 3 stages. Firstly, there is the Idea Creation stage. This is the stage where you try to determine what your subject will be in your shoot. Secondly, there is the Shooting stage. At this stage, you try to take the shot you had intended to take. There is a good chance that at this point what you imagined the shot to be does not turn out the way you had intended it to be. In other words, you aren’t able to get the shot you had imagined it to be in the brainstorming or idea creation stage. The last stage I’ll call the Output stage. At this point, you will be processing the photo, evaluating how the photo looks once it has been processed, and determining what modifications you might have to make as the photo does not look like the way you wanted it to be on either your phone or tablet or online.
For this post, let’s talk about what I think sets the foundation for your whole shoot. I think that stage as you might suspect is the Idea Creation stage. Knowing what you’re going to shoot, how you’re going to shoot your subject, and under what kind of lighting/conditions allows you to be prepared. The time you spend in getting prepared might mean that you could miss out on other shoot ideas or subjects, but as the saying goes “if you are a Jack of all trades, you become a master of none.” Of all the things that a photographer needs to do to become prepared for a shoot, the most important thing will be to know what your subject will be. For the photo above, I decided to goto Gastown. The focus of my subject was either the steam clock, or the flatiron building a few blocks away. For people who are not familiar with Vancouver, Gastown is the oldest part of Vancouver. The streets and buildings are often full of character and lit up with interesting light. I decided to stay with the steam clock as the light was beginning to dim, and I wanted to catch the clock at dusk, twilight and night time. I could have walked to the flatiron building or walked along the streets and captured some street photography, but I decided on the steam clock for the reasons mentioned above. If I had done so, I think I would have missed taking this shot of the steam clock, and would have been really disappointed that I missed this shot. Sometimes doing less means more, don’t you think?