When it comes to being creative and personal photography, how do you approach your shoots? Do you prepare a well-researched mood board and vehemently stick to it, or do you let your creative juices flow and see where the shoot takes you? Is there a right way?
I have just come back from a collaboration shoot with a dancer who found me on Instagram. She fell in love with my work and one thing led to another, and next thing I knew, we ended up meeting up and doing a brief shoot in the city. I hadn't quite set any expectations for this session, nor had I specifically prepared a mood board for this. I had a loose idea of what I thought I wanted to achieve, but when it comes to collaborations, to me, it's a two-way process, and as such, takes into account the personality, mood, gestures, and body language of my subject, too. I showed up, we talked and bonded, and we started creating.
I've never showed up to a photo session with a completely blank mind; usually, it's the opposite. I have so many ideas, and most of the time, high expectations of myself, that I need to process all this and come up with something doable, and do so on the spot. What I do is observe the location, the weather, the light, the way my subject moves, and how they change their facial expressions when we talk to each other and try to incorporate my ideas to mix in with all of these other variables to create something that pleases me as an artist. This is far from doing paid jobs with specific requirements and expectations, and I find that taking the time to do personal sessions is a constant reminder to break outside the box and not to remain compliant in our photography journey.
So, the question remains whether we should approach our personal sessions in a constructive and thought-through manner as we do with our commissioned jobs, or should creativity, imagination, and the rapport with our subject take on a direction of its own once it's set in motion? Generally, I don't have very detailed and specific expectations for personal shoots, and as someone who often does self-portraits in the space of 10-minute creativity bursts, I enjoy the unexpected when it comes to photographing people. To me, it's an impossible and unnecessary task to try and recreate specific shots that may be saved on your Pinterest board or in your Instagram collection, because it takes away the spontaneity of two people coming together and creating something personal together. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoy collating photographs that inspire me.
How do you approach your personal shoots? Do you create a plan and set expectations, or do you surrender to your thoughts and emotions and let yourself simply start creating without any limits?