When you first approach a subject it can be helpful to take an inventory of all of the components available to you.
At White Sands, New Mexico, I made a short list of all the elements available.
It quickly became clear that I was most interested in the sand dunes.
So I listed all the possible components of sand dunes.
Wind blown sand
Hard pack revealed
Hard pack lines
I quickly had a list of all the essential elements I had to work with.
I could search for one image that had them all.
I could gather one of each to tell a story of the composition of the place.
I could focus on just one element and find many meaningful variations.
I could look for images that had combinations of two (or more) interacting with one another.
Or I could look for them all to build an extended photo essay.
At this point, with so many ideas to pursue, it’s hard to get blocked creatively.
By taking notes, I was sensitized to and more conscious of my subject. I quickly gained many insights into how to best approach the subject, where to go, and when to be there. When you take this approach, you make visual search more efficient and focussed, saving time and energy for depth of perception. Being focussed doesn’t mean you can’t also work intuitively at the same time. There are always many surprises along the way if you just stay open to new discoveries.In fact, being focussed may help you realize more quickly what’s truly new and what’s the same old story. It’s easy to get fixated on a few things and miss other essential elements and creative opportunities.
Making notes on site can really pay off. And this is just one kind of note you can make.
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Find out about my 2010 White Sands Workshop here.
I’m getting ready for my White Sands workshop this coming weekend. Reviewing my sketches and writings from previous trips, I got more ideas. After many trips to White Sands, I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do but now I’m sure there’s more. So I’ll write and sketch more on the way there, while I’m there, and afterward.
If every pictures tells a Story …
Writing can help clarify your story.
You can read 8 different types of statements on White Sands in my free PDF.
Find out more about my White Sands workshop here.
Stay tuned for live blog posts during the workshop!
Every picture tells a story. Every picture? Every picture!
Even abstract images tell stories. The stories they tell are not about their subjects. By definition they don’t have subjects. Or do they? They have themselves. So they tell stories about themselves. They tell stories about the things that make them – color, line, texture, shape, proportion, etc. How all of those things relate is a drama of form.
How many kinds of stories are there? There are scientific stories that tell us what things are and how they work. There are historical stories that tell us how things were, how they changed, and what they’ve become today – some even speculate about how things will be tomorrow. There are emotional stories that tell us how people respond emotionally to things. There may be more kinds of stories, but these are the big ones. When it comes to images, the stories they tell are usually only about a few kinds of things. The images themselves. The things images contain. The processes things go through. The feelings people have in response to things and processes. The concepts created through interpretation. Things – Nouns. Processes – Verbs. Feelings – Adjectives and Adverbs. Concepts – Abstract Ideas.
So if every picture tells a story, one way to determine the strength of an image is to ask, “How strong is the story?” Put another way, one way to improve your images is to tell stronger stories. A story doesn’t have to be big or dramatic to be strong; it just has to be told well. Tell stories strongly. Tell them with stronger form; tell them by more clearly delineating actions; tell them by disclosing emotional responses more passionately; tell them by inspiring us to find the bigger picture beyond each picture or group of pictures …
Read the rest in the current issue of AfterCapture magazine.
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You can read my writings from three separate voyages to Antarctica.
The first statement was written midway through the trip to help me focus.
The second statement was written at the end of the trip to clarify my practice.
The third statement was written as a daily journal for live blog posts.
Three different trips. Three different kinds of writing. One evolving process.
Writing has helped my creative process. How can writing help yours?
Find out about my exhibit here.
Stay tuned daily for more resources.
Get priority status in my Antarctica 2011 workshop.
You can create synergy between existing elements in your images and generate something new. How? Takes these steps.
Step one. Identify all the elements in your best images.
Step two. List all the possible combinations.
Step Three. Put what you’ve discovered into words.
Step four. Select the most promising combinations to pursue.
Step five. Generate a lot of variations on a single combination before committing to a final solution.
Step six. Execute.
This is an extreme distillation of my article Combination, now in the current issue of AfterCapture magazine.
Read more in my Creativity ebooks.
Learn more in my workshops.
Here’s an excerpt from my article in the current issue of After Capture magazine.
“Once you’ve identified the core concerns, strengths, and weaknesses a body of work your path becomes clearer. Stick to your strong points; repeat them. Eliminate or minimize weaknesses. Introduce small variations of less essential items to add life, complexity, and nuances to the work. Enrich text with subtext. Make a list of possible variations upon the elements that you’ve identified. Consider, different points of view and different combinations of elements. Keep adding to your list as time goes on. It’s likely you’ll generate many more ideas than you can accomplish in a short time. With these options in mind you’ll never run out of ideas to pursue. Pursue only the very best ideas; let the lesser ideas pass you by. How do you evaluate new ideas? Ask yourself some questions. How much repetition leads to saturation (adding more information without adding anything new)? How much variation can you support without losing track of the essential idea and starting a new one? Does including a variation reinforce or distract from the entire body of work and its theme? If it reinforces it, include it. If it distracts from it, set it aside for another use. Quite often these images can start new bodies of work. They can even serve as bridges between related bodies of work. Engaging this process consciously increases the likelihood that you will produce the more significant results both now and in the future. You’ll know what to move forward on and when to move forward. You’ll know what to defer and when to defer it so you don’t get sidetracked …”
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Learn these and other core concepts in my workshops.
“Every picture tells a story. Every body of work tells a bigger story. In grouping and sequencing a collection of images larger ideas come to light. The missing pieces also become apparent. Often, transitional material is needed to develop an idea more fully or to move from one idea to another convincingly. Identifying and finding material that can bridge the gaps can makes bodies of work stronger. It can even lead to new ideas to be developed at a later date. The seeds of future work are often contained in present work.”
Find the rest of this article in the current issue of AfterCapture.
Find more free insights on editing in my downloads.
Proximity and sequencing matter. The first sequence suggests an approaching storm, while the second suggests clearing skies.
How you present your work may be almost as important as what work you present. It’s the art of arranging. And it is an art, which involves specific techniques that can be learned. What are some of the guiding principles involved? Here are a few.
Sequence matters. Start strong. Finish strong. Make getting there interesting. Whether it’s a symphony, a novel, or an exhibit. It’s good advice for arranging any creative product.
To sequence a project, you can use the metaphor of building a fence. The strongest pieces can be thought of as posts. The less strong pieces can be thought of as rails. You want to start and end with very strongest pieces to create a strong structure. You want to periodically reinforce runs of less strong units with one or more stronger units. You don’t want long runs of rails without posts or the structure may fail. A fence made only of posts becomes something else entirely, a wall with no variation or grace. The number of strong pieces you include determines how long a fence will be, though the number of other images you include may modify length somewhat …
What tips do you have for sequencing? How have you used this potential for your work? Comment here!
Check out the rest of this article in my column Illuminating Creativity in this month’s AfterCapture magazine.
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Find 6 related PDFs here.
Learn these and other techniques in my Fine Digital Print Expert workshop here.
It’s a privilege to be invited to guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog. Vincent Versace and Joe McNally contributed excellent first and second guest Wednesday installments. Mine’s the third.
I’m hoping guest blogging becomes an industry trend. I’ve already got several invites out to select colleagues who will join me here on my blog and I’ll join them on theirs! So be on the look out for more guest blogging!
The title of my guest post is Making the Visual Verbal. Do you think pictures should be seen and not heard? If so, you’re half right and half wrong. Commentary is no substitute for an image. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. But, there are times and places for commenting on images. In fact, often words and pictures can complement each other synergistically to create a total effect greater than the sum of the parts. And, there are many different ways of making useful comments. Find out how and when in this essay.
Read the full post on Scott Kelby’s blog Photoshop Insider.
Download my related PDF on making Artists Statements here.
Read many of my Artist Statements here.
Hear me talk about my work here.
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