Why naming a photo may help inspire you.
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
I’m often asked where I get my inspiration from - so if you’re reading this, it’s likely you are looking for some yourself, in which case I’ll take the liberty /opportunity to market the workshops I hope to recommence in the early spring having suspended them this year due to the lurgy.
In particular I’d draw your attention to the one titled “The All Seeing Workshop” found on this website.
In that workshop, I’ll share some of my ideas and inspirations with some fun exercises for you to try. Then we’ll have a few beers. Whats not to like?
Anyway, back to the subject matter. Why naming a photo may help inspire you.
In short it provides the observer some context about the image.
There are many techniques to find inspiration which will be explored on the workshop, but one I often use is music. Yes, that is a cliche, but it’s true . But it’s HOW you use it that may help inspire you.
The way I use music is this. I’ll hear a line from a song. It’ll just hit me as a good line for a photo or sequence of images.
It’d literally just enter through my ears to my little brain and shout “good line for a photo!”
But I don’t just think I’ll use that line from a song. Say I heard the song ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan, I don't think I'll just a picture of a car. It’s deeper than that. And I never ever thought I’d type that a sentence like that. Ever.
What I mean by that is put yourself into the shoes of a song writer. Yes, they will utilise some techniques to get lyrics that work in rhyme, but ultimately they are - well most are anyway - looking to convey a mood, a thought, an emotion.
But songs connect with us in different ways that may be different from the song writers.
So it’s important to remember to think what that lyric means to YOU. It’s the seed of inspiration for your image to convey its own message.
In a sequence of photographs I took of the wonderfully talented designer Sophia which led you to this blog, the idea had been inspired by a line from the REM song ‘Find The River’
I thought the line ‘Me my thoughts are flower strewn’ sat well with Sophias personality. As a designer, her own work is inspired by flowers and she is a wonderfully loving and spiritual person.
Its doesn’t mean the whole song fits into the Sophias narrative.. if it did, I would have utilised a different atmosphere / type of images to convey the message.
It was just in that line I thought a dreamy sea scape scene would work with Sophia. A floating on the wind spiritual character absorbing nature.
Whilst my work is 99.99% black and white, I had to create the atmospherics for this without the use of colour which is very prominent in Sophias own work.
My black and white images would not be complicated by saturated colours which would be a distraction. I just wanted the atmosphere and image of Sophia walking in the sea breeze in a dreamlike mood.
So I asked Sophia, who isn’t a trained actress, to just feel the moment she was in. Let herself dream of the world around her.
Hopefully, it follows that the title allows the observer to use their own imagination to try to understand that photograph and the moment they are doing that, you are telling a story.
A simpler way to put it is to think of all the perfume adverts you see. The perfumes are given exotic and romantic names with like styled images. No point showing a girl in a car in the city if the perfume is called, ‘Sea Shore'. They are selling you an emotion, albeit a fragrant one
You can now see why I’m a photographer and not a marketing designer for fragrances. But I’m sure you get the idea.
So if you want to create an image with atmosphere and are finding the lack of inspiration a frustration, whatever the subject, be it a person, a scene, an object, sit quietly listening to some of your favourite music, see if anything jumps out at you. If it doesn't - look at the lyrics of some of the songs you like online. Reading them sometimes has a different feel to hearing them in a melody.
It's important to use your own taste of music, as you’ll have a connection to it - which in turn will spark that interest to take it further in another direction. (Note has anyone got any oxygen.. its quite deep here isn’t it!)
The observer may not get it the first time around, but like the first listen of a good or great song, by returning to it you start to feel and understand it in context with the title. Unless it’s anything by Little Mix.