And we’re back. After a month of frustrations, I’m back in a place to expound. So tonight, I’m going to start with a Doonesbury strip that I keep going back to whenever I feel especially jaded.
The set up is this: It’s 1978 and Boopsie visited Graceland a year after Elvis’s death. After the tour, after seeing the souvenir stands, she went to buy an arrangement of flowers for his grave.
Boopsie is looking for meaning and depth and emotion and the story while the florist has heard this so often, so regularly, that it exists entirely on its own in a vacuum. It’s emotion, it’s deep, it’s feeling, it’s… an E-47, without the motor.
Somewhere, someone has come up with the idea for an image that is filled with subtext and meaning, emotional heft and philosophical considerations of the world and the role of women in the state of the planet with regards to…
Naked woman in a forest #5,105,147.
No, I get it. It’s supposed to be a metaphor wrapped in a simile with a soupçon of balderdash but all I’ve got is the image itself and it’s, well, naked woman. Forest. In the center of the frame.
And it may be the first time you’ve had a chance to take that picture and make that tableau. Good on you. Sincerely, congratulations on pulling it all together. But look at the image again and consider if you’ve not at least seen it before?
I get frustrated with sameness in creativity, the lack of change or challenge in work. When my toy photographer friends on Instagram post their favorites of a month and three of them are essentially an action figure posed on moss without context. Or some of the photographers online who post nudes with waterfalls or bikini clad blondes with motorcycles with such regularity that I wonder how much of the thought process is simply autopilot.
They’re pretty. They’re essentially the same. Blonde this time, brunette the next time. A Lego stormtrooper this time and a Lego hiker next time.
I wonder if we don’t get so wrapped up in the concept of the image that we forget what the image itself is going to be in the end. We love the idea and forget to check the composition or the framing or any of a thousand elements that could bring some freshness to the picture.
Trust me, I’ll be ranting about minifigure on moss real damn soon.
So maybe the next shoot, the next time you’re pulling everything together for an image as opposed to capturing some random tableau, think about how you can shake things up even a little bit. Higher angle? More light? Close-ups?
Anything but E-47!