Let me start this with the following qualifier; Photography is like a shark moving in the water, it has to move forward to stay alive. I am always learning, many of my projects are based on things I have never done not on repeating themes. I get inspired by other shooters, models, movies and music. One thing I know for certain, stop learning and you’re dead.
I shoot with an eye that is similar to looking in a cardboard tube, I try to focus on one piece of the scene. Thats the part I place in the hot spot of the frame. That in itself in another blog but I wanted to share my thoughts on challenging yourself. I believe that like golf photography is something that take endless effort and commitment.
Years ago I remember reading that if you ever find yourself with nothing to shoot just look down. Focus on something small and ordinary and make it extraordinary. That little saying has help me with other creative challenges as well.
Back in my advertising day I was up against a newspaper deadline, I think it was about two hours away. I had to come up with a piece for my best client and had no idea where I was going with it. As luck would have it in walked a good friend who was in need of some advice for his business and had been trying to see me for a week. He had an hour before he had to leave town again. I looked at him and at my screen and said okay lets go for a walk. He didn’t quite get it but I explained that as we walked I could try and help him and at the same time clear my head. As we walked and talked through the park just across the street he asked me question after question. The park had a small pond that we circled and I continue to look down at my feet. Then he asked me what I was looking for. So I told him about looking down and finding the answers. He asked what was the question? I explained my deadline. He thanked me for my time and asked me what I was going to write for the ad, checking to see if I had solved my own challenge. I said I’m going to base my ad on a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond! He laughed as he knew that I was positioning my client who was a local independent tire dealer against the larger chains in town. The ad turned into one of the best ads for the client. Five years later I was reminded of it by two gentlemen I had just met, when someone told them that I did the advertising for the company they both said “Small fish swim faster and eat less” which was the tag line for the ad. One declared that he still had the ad on his fridge! I was a bit shocked as I was hosting a party for a major restaurant chain I was working for and instead of talking about the food they wanted to talk about this ad I had made years before. Again I realized that looking down was the key!
I often feel I need to regroup or refocus, I drive for hours and find nothing that jumps out at me. Then back in my own drive way I see a rock or a stick that turns into a great shot. I was heading to Bridal Falls last winter with my brand new tripod that my family had all bought me. It was the first time I would be shooting with it. I had visions of capturing the amazing falls with a long exposure creating a spectacular shot. I got to the falls parking lot and posted on FaceBook that I was about to head up and shoot. My friend Geoff had shot back that I should be careful as ice would be very bad on the way up. He had also said that he hoped I had a buddy with me, which I didn’t! I changed my plans as Geoff was right, it was kinda foolish to head up there during the cold snap we were in without a partner. Again I looked down and saw the small stream running along side the parking lot. The water in the stream had splashed up on the banks and created a layer of ice that had grown for weeks. The ice formations developed about six inches above the water level. I spent the next hour slowly walking about 50 feet in total capturing my “River Ice” series http://wp.me/P1y6rI-mO Just Look Down!