The Idea: The Main Vision
Any creative person would agree that sometimes ideas just kind of pop in your head. It can be triggered by pretty much anything; a thought you had, something you saw, read, felt, etc. Half the time, the idea is unexplainable to the general public and then you have to try to come up with something that they’ll understand, but really, you saw the image in your head and thought it would look cool. I feel like a lot of people want to know exactly what the artist was thinking when they created their masterpiece, or the reasoning behind it, what they were feeling. Personally, I lean more towards art that I can interpret my own meaning from, and hope that the people who view my work do the same. Yes, there are times when I do have a specific meaning or mood behind my work, but ultimately, I don’t want to have to explain myself, because not everybody is going to understand. Why do I put facial hair on my models? I dunno, I just like to.
The Inspiration: The Problem With Pinterest
Once the idea hits, now you want visual stimulation to keep you on the right track. This is where Pinterest usually comes in. Problem no. 1 with Pinterest: what the hell do you type into the search bar? ‘Edgy models with moustaches,’ ‘fashion editorials with shoulder epaulettes,’ ‘naked women touching themselves, but not in a pornographic way?’ Not everything comes up the way you want it to, and there’s no real saying you’re going to find what you’re looking for to keep your inspiration going. And you HAVE to keep the inspiration going.
Problem no. 2 with Pinterest: the inspiration you need pops up, but so does a lot of other cool stuff. This is where the inspiration overload comes in. This is where your ideas change, and evolve into what you will eventually attempt to create.
The Idea: Again
After way to much inspiration, you kind of have to start at the beginning. The idea has become something different, but relatively along the same track as where you started.
The shoot: Technical Difficulties
As with everything else in life, things don’t always go as planned. Don’t worry, you’re still going to get your vision out there, it just may not be as easy as you planned. Or maybe it will, who knows. I find that about half of the shoots I plan out, I have one idea in my head, but when I get there and I’m shooting, it doesn’t quite look the way I imagined. This is where you kind of have to just roll with it.
I’ll admit, I’m kind of an unusual artist. Most artists go with the flow of life. Their creativity comes easily and they can just create, create, create. My process is actually quite structured. I have to really think about what I’m doing and plan accordingly. That being said, this step in the process is where I’ve had to really learn to let go. Instead of getting discouraged when something doesn’t quite look the way I plan, I have learned to alter my process as things come up. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments of frustration, but in the end, I know I’ll still have workable images, even if it’s not what I originally pictured in my head.
The Post Production: The Part the General Public Pretends Doesn’t Exist
This is the most painstakingly slow part of the process that a lot of photographers hate. This is also the part of the process that the general public likes to ignore. “You can shoot this event for me for $50 right? I need 150-200 images.” Do you know how long it takes to do the post production for that many images? No. Absolutely not worth it for that price. But at the same time, fashion magazines and celebrity photographers get so much crap for the amount of retouching they do. Let me tell you, EVERYTHING is retouched. If you’ve had your portrait taken, and it looks like an unretouched version, it’s not. You just went to a really professional photographer. You have wrinkles, but they are lessened. Your skin looks clean and not to shiny, that would be the patch tool. The idea is to give you the best version of yourself. It looks untouched, but it’s not. That beautiful photo of the Scottish countryside that must have been just that gorgeous? The saturation has been brought up, maybe a different sky put in, the random person in the background with their hand in a cows backside has been removed completely.
It’s tedious and time-consuming, but for me personally, the retouching is the therapeutic part. The part I’m most proud of. Look how good I made this photo look! Please don’t ignore the fact that I spent six hours making it look perfect so you can criticize how much I pushed someone’s arm in so the proportions look the way they would in person.
The Final Product: Completely Different From the Original Vision
No, it’s not ALWAYS different, but sometimes it is. And that’s ok. The point is to get your creative idea out there. You still have a beautiful piece that showcases your talents and gives you an outlet to express yourself.
The Submission: Picking the Magazine
In the end, we all want to get our work out there. Most of the personal work I do, I try to get published. It’s hit or miss, and more often than not, ends in disappointment. But I keep doing it, because there’s no point in not trying.
A big part of submissions is picking the right outlet for your work. If you shoot landscapes, don’t submit your photos to a fashion magazine and vice versa. Common sense really. That being said, I shoot fashion, and there are a TON of different styles and magazines that showcase different types of fashion. Picking the right magazine is very important, so study them all, and pick carefully.
The Waiting Game
The last part of the process, waiting to see if your work gets picked. The tricky part is how long do you have to wait before trying a different source? Most magazines want exclusive editorials, and if they don’t decide to go with your work, they’re not going to take the time to tell you, “sorry, we’ve gone with another candidate at this time.” Some websites will have a submissions section that will say that if you don’t hear from them in about a month, then they probably haven’t picked your work and you can submit to somewhere else. Others don’t, so you just have to use your best judgement and hope that you’ve waited the proper amount of time.
The hardest part, is that during the time you’re waiting, you can’t post the images on any social media outlet or even your own website/portfolio. As I said, magazines want exclusivity, so if people have already seen the work, it’s a no go.
All in all, the process is long and tedious and sometimes frustrating, but every part of it is another push forward. Take your time, don’t get too attached to the work and just let your creative process flow naturally.