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Friday, March 20, 2015

The Creative Process

I've had many people ask me how I get my ideas, or how I get creative. So, since I just posted about print competition, I thought it might be fun to discuss how I do my conceptual images. The origination of an idea starts in a different place for each image. Sometimes, I draw inspiration from film or literature. Many times I am drawn to art history, or there is just a technique I want to try. In today's case, the inspiration began with a haircut. One of my good friends left her daughter in the care of a close family member, and came home to find out something had gone horribly wrong, and hair was lost. If you have had a child in the toddler years, chances are you've gone through something similar. When she posted on Facebook about it, I thought it would be really fun to document an event that could be taken as a negative experience, and transform it into a great portrait.

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After arranging a shooting time, I was thinking about mood, and style, and what I wanted the image to say. I decided I wanted something dark, not really pretty, very moody, timeless, and possibly even a bit disturbing (since that is how I felt when my own daughter cut her hair.) So last night I had 30 minutes between running kids to dance and karate to browse our local thrift shop, and I found a dark, old little dress (which I had to cut off the obnoxious and huge pink gingham collar) and some trim that would easily cover my hack job. I wanted everything to be done in harmonious color, so I stuck with the brown palette. Then I found an old copper pot and I got thinking it would amp up the emotion if I had something dead in the pot to add to the disturbing feel. Since dead things are a bit hard to find, not to mention icky, I grabbed an old sunflower that I found on my walk later in the evening. Then I changed venues from Memory Grove (where everything is beautiful and blooming right now) to Wheeler Farm (where I knew I could find a dark brown wall that would match the colors in the dress.) This whole thought process and execution took place between about 4:00-8:00 pm yesterday night.

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Today on the shoot, it was just a matter of putting everything together. Our little model wasn't very happy, but since that was the emotion I was going for, it was actually perfect. She hated the dress, and it took much coaxing and painting of stories to get her to wear it. Then I set up my strobe and soft-box to add a direction of light, and I noticed that the sun was bouncing off the white front of the box onto her in a perfect lighting ratio, so I just used it as a reflector and kept the power off.

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After that, it was just a matter of finding an expression (which, as I said earlier, was lots easier than asking for smiles.) and choosing my favorite image. I liked the hands in the image on the right better, and the expression on the left, so I did some Photoshop magic to make the final composite.

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Then it was tweaking the mood and lighting to suit the emotion I had in mind at the start, and voila! A portrait that I'm really pleased with. I loved creating something a little off my normal track, and pushing myself a little.

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Thanks so much, K for giving me full artistic license and trusting me to do it right! :-)

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