“All of us need to be in touch with a mysterious, tantalizing source of inspiration that teases our sense of wonder and goads us on to life’s next adventure.”
~ Rob Brezny
Have you ever wanted to have your own photo shoot or photo session, whether that be as in individual, couple, family or group but was at a loss for ideas? Or have you seen photos of people having a professional photo shoot and wondered how they come up with those ideas, and wondered how you could ever possibly come up with something original?
Well take heart...you can!
Ideas aren't for just the typical 'creatives'. Anyone can be creative. It's just knowing where to draw inspiration from and 'how' to tap into that. Often, it's more about your willingness to try something. It's not that you can't...it's because you may fear the unknown and part of that is tied up in the fear of what others think.
Photo shoot and session ideas don't have to be grand or way out there either or be about a 'themed' shoot. Typically, ideas will be based around you, your style and personality and things that are important to you.
Like the photo below for example. Christina and Kyle's engagement session was in Murwillumbah, NSW. They stressed the importance of having photos in that area because of the significance of that area to them...it was important. As a suggestion, I included the antique chair that Christina is sitting on in this photo, which is Kyle's grandmother's chair. It was a representation of family and a part of who he is and his family history. Now looking at this photo, you the viewer would not know this or understand the significance, but to Kyle and Christina, that difference is what makes the shoot special to them.
So where can you draw inspiration from and create your own unique ideas for photo shoots?
Here are 5 (five) Places to Draw Inspiration and Ideas from:
- Movies, films, TV series.
- Childhood dreams and fantasies, including your heroes and Superheroes.
- Connections with a particular Era, e.g. Roaring '40s, 1960's Rock'n'Roll, etc.
- Childhood experiences or adult aspirations, e.g. road trips or family holidays in special place, etc.
- Interests and Hobbies.
1. Movies, Films, TV Series
One of the best sources of inspiration are your favourite movies, films or TV series. I have a friend who has told me he would love a photo shoot using 'The Game of Thrones' as his source of inspiration. I think that our longing to recreate roles that we ourselves would love to be able to play, is a great source of inspiration. Often, we are drawn to characters that we feel represent our strengths and give us a feeling of personal power, magic and wonder.
2. Childhood Dreams & Fantasies
As a parent or adult it's quite normal to see our young children play 'dress ups' and step enthusiastically and unashamedly into the roles of their super heroes that they see on the TV or in movies. And we encourage that imagination and sense of play. Though, I have a sneaky suspicion that many adults envy their children's bravery, passion and lack of embarrassment.
But you know...you can do that too. What's stopping you? Probably fear at what others may think? But what I've found is that those who take a chance can often be surprised. When Dylan (photo top of the page) came to me with the idea of a 'Superman' theme for his shoot, he later said to me that he couldn't even have imagined just how amazing his photos turned out. So sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith. Fortunately, Dylan trusted in my vision and my skills as a photographer to draw out what he could see in himself but others couldn't.
3. Connection with a particular Era
Some people feel a strong pull or connection with a particular time or era in history. Are you a person who is drawn to events and festivals like the 'Abbey Medieval Festival' in Caboolture held every year? Are you a member of a Burlesque group or Rock-n-Roll or Vintage Car club?No doubt these particular eras in history strongly resonate with you and the reason you might attend these events or clubs is so that you get to transport yourself back to these moments in time to get a sense of the magic or romanticism or whatever might appeal to you about that period in history.
4. Interests, Hobbies & Achievements
What interests or hobbies do you have that can inspire ideas? Do you love model aeroplanes? An idea might be to dress as Amelia Earhart and have your photo taken standing next to a vintage plane dressed in clothing from her era. Do you love going to themed parties like mystery/murder parties or costume parties? What costumes and characters are you drawn to?
For my 40th birthday (before I became a professional photographer), to celebrate my journey back to fitness I had some professional photos taken. For me it was not only a representation of what I'd achieved but also who I felt I was at the time. Below is my favourite photo because not only was it a representation of who I felt I was at that time, but it also reflected my creative and artistic side.
5. Our Own Life History & Experiences
Yes, even our own lives...our childhood memories, experiences growing into adulthood and places we've lived or travelled can be a major source of inspiration. Some of these memories will often become meaningful only when we are older and we've experienced life's ups and downs. It could be something as simple as a childhood memory of going to the beach for family holidays in a particular place. Or something we may have done as a ritual with our father or mother or relative - things of deep significance.
When we were talking about a location and what to do for a family photography session, Melissa (pictured below) said she wanted photos in a pine forest. Melissa's own childhood memories of the smell of a pine forest and the needles and cones played a big part in choosing the location for her family photo shoot. For her it was like being transported back in time.
So when you've found a place from which to draw inspiration, start looking for photos or images that inspire and/or match the ideas in your head to help stimulate ideas for your own photo shoot.
I now create individual Pinterest Storyboards for clients to help stimulate ideas for their own shoots. But remember to only use these images as a way to help stimulate your imagination. I don't encourage clients to try and copy a photo exactly.
Why? Because every person and/or family is different and they bring different qualities and experiences to their shoot. Locations and others things beyond your control, like the weather and what's going on around you will influence the outcome. Also, when there is more than one person involved, the dynamics of individuals will influence the outcome and how people are feeling on that particular day.
And lastly, your photographer - their approach and style, and their vision of what's possible will highly influence the outcome of your photo shoot. So be sure that you are comfortable with that photographer's particular style.
With myself, it's important that your photo shoot is a collaborative one, where I seek your ideas and connect with you on a personal level. By knowing your style, your likes, ideas, etc helps me plan an approach to not only meet your expectations, but also to ensure that my vision will match your expectations and then hopefully exceed them.
Because as I always express to my clients, it's often those images that you could never have imagined that will often be the ones that you love the most!