Bill “Superfoot” Wallace taking out baddies.. as he’s known to do.. 🙂
I was driving down to pick up Brad Moore from the airport this past evening, and we got to talking about what kinds of things he did over the holiday break. He started telling me about these ideas that he had after reading a book (I’ll tell you which later.. I forgot) – inspired to create several things that i’ll let him reveal over time. As we were driving and talking ideas, I told him I was interested in making a blog post about execution, and relaying the conversation he and I had.
What I thought was interesting about our conversation wasn’t really what it contained – but more what it didn’t. We didnt spend our time talking about the newest light, or gear, or flash. The conversation talked about ideas. It sounds overly simplistic, but I can’t tell you how many times I run into a person at a local photography group, or a meetup shootout, where this person is armed to the teeth with every modifier they could order – only to stare at me blankly when I ask them what they were going to shoot for that specific event. The conversation usually drifts into some version of “I dont know.. but when it comes.. I have all of this at the ready for it”
Be Aggressive About The Idea – Gear Will Follow
I think this is something that is inherent in us Photographers as we start getting better with lighting and photography. We tend to believe that in order to get better at making the image, we need to learn all of the specific tools that make the image. We peek at websites, marvel at trade shows, gawk at camera clubs – believing that the holy grail is the specific gear that we have yet to have. What we lose sight of is that these things (while totally something I still do.. gear watching is great fun), don’t help us as photographers, they help us become Photographists – people really into the technology of photography but not really into much after that. Being a photographist is cool… but you can end up in a very bad place chasing technology.
What i’ve started doing the last couple of years is organizing a shooting notebook. In this notebook, I write down the concepts that I want to work on, and around the concept, I start writing descriptions of the kinds of feelings I want these images to have. I think of it as a giant brainstorming session, where I just jot down the concept and the idea. I’ll even jot down music that i’ve been listening to while I had the idea, in the event that this will trigger a feeling later. As these ideas start becoming more and more concrete, I’ll use the back of the sheet of paper to jot down locations for it, the gear that I think that will be needed, and who I would need to make it happen.
The Idea May Not Happen. That’s OK
Does this mean that the idea will always get shot? Not really. In fact, some of the ‘ideas’ that I have to shoot have yet to see the light of day. As your skills get better technically, you’ll find that a lot of how you will measure yourself as a photographer will be in how efficiently, quickly, and completely can you execute the idea that you originally started. When the idea doesn’t work.. those too are lessons that you carry over into the next idea. As the idea coalesces, you’ll start noticing that your list of gear requirements to make the shot become a lot more specific, and make your learning your tools a lot more fun.
The ideas are the ones that show what you are thinking in your head. The ideas are the ones that, when strung into succession, show a sense of vision and style for what you want to shoot. The ideas, when executed correctly show how well you can complete a project. If you’re looking to do this as more than on the side, it’s those completion of ideas that will show a person that you can execute under pressure.
For me, the photographers that I greatly admire have been able to do both of those. Create the idea in a short amount of time, and take themselves from idea to execution, in the fastest possible space. When I study those I like – that’s what i’m looking at.. the efficiency in realizing the vision.
A carpenter doesn’t sit there and just wax on and on about how a Stanley hammer is better than a Home Depot Hammer. He waxes on about how he wants to make piece of art. Get the notebooks out, and start jotting down what these ideas look like in your own head.