I get asked often ‘Where do my photo ideas come from?’ There’s no really hard and fast answer to this question. When I’m not shooting, I spend time looking at different places, imagining images I could create in many of the places I visit. That’s really the beginning of the process, having places to go to photograph (if I’m not in the studio that is). It’s important to have ideas for locations ready when the client begins to describe their vision for their images.
Then comes some practice shots, taking a few images here and there, getting a feel for the place. These may not include any people, or maybe just the random strangers that are there at the time. These images help cement the ideas and locations in my head for later.
The most important part of the planning is hearing the ideas the client has, how and where they’d like to use their photos, and any thoughts they have on the feel of the end product. My brain takes over from here, thinking of the different locations and what may work best for their photos. I often plan a handful of images to make; the rest are generated from these planned images, and sometimes the planned shots get left behind when the day actually arrives.
This all sounds very unscientific; the truth is that most art just happens. We may start with a plan, a vision, a goal, but often we end up in a different place from these plans. It’s the artist’s vision that gets them to the final product, and quite frequently the mundane early research is the catalyst for this vision. So next time you see me out wandering, looking like I’m lost, keep in mind I may be working on the vision for your next photographs.