A while back I had the opportunity of photographing the Ohio State Reformatory, otherwise known as Mansfield Prison. Having never been there before and knowing that it would be very much a sensory overload of subjects, I decided I needed to bring some props with me to get started. For me I need to relax, have fun and allow the ideas to come to me. Oh, and I’m also a big The Walking Dead fan. So as any fan of the TV series knows, the first few season they were based in a prison. Hence my brain made the connection, I bought some Walking Dead bobble heads and took the image above. After a moment of enjoyment, and lots of laughs, may creativity kicked in and I started to see subjects everywhere.
While I know this process may not work for everyone, we must all agree that to be creative, we need to be in our right mind. More precisely, our right side of our brains. The right side of our brains control imagination, passion, love, and of course, creativity. If you ever struggle with finding creative subjects to shoot, you may not be in your right brain. If you’re worried about how to set the camera up, thinking analytically about the shot, or logically putting pieces together, you’re in your left brain. So how can you switch?
For me, playing or having fun gets me in my right brain. I’ve always wondered why that happened and then I stumbled upon an article by Psychology Today titled; “5 Reasons You Need to Play More” (link below). In reading that article, it confirmed what I already knew, playing boosts our creativity. The article also mentions that; “in the responsibilities of life, the seriousness of world affairs, and an ever-growing to-do list, we often forget to PLAY”. I’ve attended and lead many photography workshops over the years and constantly watch some students struggle looking for subjects. Yet others immediately begin shooting. Why do some start immediately, and others struggle? I also notice that the students enjoying the moment are the ones that usually get shooting earlier than the others that are tied up with other thoughts. When I see an entire group struggling, I usually take them aside and we start playing.
On a recent trip to Death Valley National Park, we headed over to the Alabama Hills early one morning for a sunrise shoot. It was bitterly cold, and we were dressed for the desert. Watching them all bundled up and not really engaging in the surroundings, I gathered them up and we started playing. I had noticed earlier that where we were standing, we would cast a shadow on the western rocks. So, we started making funny shapes on the walls (yes, we even did YMCA). They started to have fun and forgot about the cold. Lesson learned.
So, the moral of this long blog is, when you’re struggling in your photography, maybe its time to step back, have fun and PLAY… You will never regret it…
So what do you think, please let me know…