Some weeks ago I wrote a series of articles on LinkedIn about the rules, or precepts, of creativity and how I have applied them both in my work as a facilitator but also in my photography. These rules (as defined by the Open University during my MBA) don’t take equal billing, and indeed remembering all twelve of them can be an effort, but one of my favourites is this:
Connect, and be receptive.
It encourages me to be alert to the world around me; the things I see, read, hear and experience not just as passing sensations, but as opportunities to exploit. In my training work this enables me to find activities and anecdotes that bring my content to life, however this post, and the one that follows it, are about the ways in which this might influence what I photograph and how.
Since being made redundant last year I have worked occasionally as a film and TV extra, or supporting artist as the industry jargon prefers. Aside from the economic drivers for doing this, I’ve long been interested in these media, and it allows me to feed my inner diva while I’m not standing at the front of a training room. More than that though it allows me to see how scenes are shot and lit, so developing my own knowledge as a photographer.
These productions are tightly controlled to prevent press leaks and so on set photography is not allowed (unless you’re a cast member continually taking selfies), and posting details of specific shoots on social media would soon see you dropped by the agencies who get you work. Understandable, but such a pity when many productions have great costumes and make up. All the same in the areas off set, you will see us all snapping away with our mobile phones to capture our latest looks.
Most of my work has been on location, but recently I was working on a set built in a studio and so the holding area where we waited was actually still in the studio but beyond the walls of the constructed set; a 1950’s nightclub. Since the whole space is painted black a large fresnel light had been set up and pointed at a white backdrop to reflect light into the whole space. Immediately I could see the potential of the way this soft directional light was falling across people’s faces, so I came equipped the following day and began asking my colleagues if I could photograph them. Needless to say in this situation I had plenty of takers and so I shot a gallery of film noir type images to share with them, taking advantage of the light and the costumes to add to that style. Someone even took one of me in return.
The images I produced weren’t about my skill with the camera. They were about my ability to see the opportunity and act on it. Connecting and being receptive.