Find Your Idea/Inspiration
I like to think you need to get inspired first before you go about doing your shoot. You have to have a purpose or wanting to create. Once we have an idea, we can then start to create a story to tell. It’s important to know what helps you reach that point. it could be music, people, several mediums of art, photos, even emotional times. For me, personally its exploring.
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Since I am an on location photographer I really get inspired by traveling to locations I think are cool and exploring them. I guess this could be referred to as scouting. In my shoots, I use models to interact with their environments as the motions tell a story. That works for me personally and it’s very important you know what gives you your inspiration. Once you have your inspiration, you’ll know what idea you want to create. And then we can start planning the shoot out a bit more.
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I know I know, we already talked about my obsession with location, but I feel it’s an important part of the creative process. Weather being inside or outside, make sure you’re thinking about how this location will affect the photos you take. If you’re shooting in a studio, you have a lot more control and will probably have an easier time using props, which we’ll get into in a sec. Outside is a bit tricky because you need the desired weather conditions and mother nature can change her mind any second (especially here in Chicago). Either way, the location is the setting your idea will take place and is a vital part of your story telling. Research areas around or talk to other creatives to see if they know places that are what you’re looking for, or of course go out and explore! You’ll be shocked at what you’ll find.
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Props! Oh boy the props. Granted, you don’t need props to take creative portraits but man are they fun. Props can truly change the focus and feel of the shoot. Don’t limit yourself on the possibilities. Props can range from masks and prisms to paint and glass to even swords and fire. Or a simple dress. Of course depending on the props you use please be careful and if you are using a dangerous prop make sure to have some one on standby to help out. Also, amazon will probably become your best friend. Think about your idea and how a prop will help evolve it! I’m personally a sucker for sparklers and smoke bombs.
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So we’re inspired, we have the idea AND we have some cool props to use. Now we have to find a model that will help bring your vision to life. This could arguably be the most important step! The model can really make or break the shoot. It is important the person you choose will be able to execute your creative direction. Also it is very important you pick the RIGHT person for the shoot. Think about idea, the props, the location. For me, I base everything off of the location and colors. Shooting in a foggy green forest? Lets try to someone with red hair and pale skin so they can stand out beautifully in that area.
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Also, make up is something to think about. Depending on the model and what you’re going for you might not need it. but if you want your model to look dramatic or even have some crazy face designs you may want to collaborating with a make up artist. This is something that will truly make a difference in your model and save you time cleaning up blemishes later.
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So, I think at this point we got everything we need. Now we just need to make it happen. So go out there and do your thing! Note, you may need some equipment to execute your plan. Consider getting a reflector or an external flash. Be sure to experiment as much as possible and of course have fun with it! Hope you got something out of this!
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Yo! My name is Dennis Elliott and I’m a creative portrait photographer and social media content creator based in Chicago, IL! I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I’m 21 years old and I got into photography 2 years ago and it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I also got involved with the Instagram community 2 years ago and it has really helped me explore my city and meet a ton of creatives that inspire me. Currently, I’m always running around the city of Chicago and beyond with a brave model and photo friends to create unique visual stories.