Inspiration can be a tricky thing. Sometimes there’s too much of it and it does more to overload our brains and our thoughts than to actually guide them. Other times, its absence can leave us wondering if there was ever a creative bone in our body.
And often, when it comes to location shoots, these two extremes are more likely to rear their heads than a consistent, slow burn of creative drive. Add to the fact that you have a model and crew looking to you, the photographer, as the catalyst of all momentum for the shoot, and the pressure can become stifling.
One of the things we strive to stay focused on is being inspired by possibility. This is especially true in situations like our recent shoot in central Washington. Our schedule didn’t allow for us to head out and scout specific spots ahead of time — at least not any further than checking out satellite imagery. We just knew in our hearts that amazing images were waiting for us in that landscape when paired with the right styling and model. When we arrived (after several wrong turns thanks to less-than-reliable cell service) and took in the amazing natural wonders in front of us, that first scenario of too much inspiration immediately hit. Majestic cliff walls. Golden fields of grass. Massive rock formations. Waterfalls in the middle of the desert!
This is where our working style as a duo plays a major role. We have a “no explanation” creative policy. If one of us is moved to shoot, the last thing they need to do is stop their momentum and explain the plan or elaborate on what they’re envisioning. Just go. Just shoot. And often, when one of us sees the other working and being moved by something around them, that energy becomes contagious and we team up, grabbing different angles and keeping our direction in sync so images stay consistent. The possibilities start to reveal themselves. But it also gives us breathing room.
But what’s so important about breathing room? People confuse it with break time, but in reality, breathing room allows us to keep momentum flowing. It’s an antidote to dead time, the ultimate mood killer when a team of creatives is eagerly awaiting the next shot and the next look. It’s an antidote to blindly pressing the shutter hoping that lightning will strike and all of a sudden the feeling of floundering while trying to make magic. It allows us to look around with an almost childlike sense of wonder and plan out what we want to do next –– to climb up a steep cliff to get a better take on the view, to try a different lens, to change up the styling. It creates stronger results, images that are more in line with a client’s vision or our own.
Most importantly, it keeps creating, the making of photographs fun. It reminds us we are always looking, always seeing, and while we may not have all the answers all the time, we know we can trust ourselves to let the inspiration that comes with a world of possibility drive us to do our best.