Inspiration or Planning?

Everyone’s a photographer these days. But why do we take photographs? Are you inspired by what you see, or do you shoot with a plan in mind?

Sitting here on holiday, it’s easy to reach for my camera, fire away and capture the world around me. 

In most cases I’m driven by a desire to share my current experience with others. Sharing is a deeply human attribute, now made easy through the use of digital cameras, the Internet and social media. So, do I share for myself, or for the benefit of others? Am I thinking about what I want to say, or how I want others to feel when they receive my photographs? Perhaps both, or neither, depending on how consciously we consider our approach to photography.

Sometimes we press the shutter button without thinking and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re moved to take a picture because of the subject matter in front of us. Inspiration is strong, and we feel compelled to act. Compulsion can be a powerful motivator, getting us up early, or keeping us up late, as we seek to capture and share the perfect shot.

Alternatively, we can head out with a plan. Doing so reminds me of a recent discussion I had with a mother and her daughter about a forthcoming school photo project. Both of them were worrying about how to get started. “What should we photograph?” “How will we take good pictures?” “What if I end up with nothing worthwhile?” were the sort of questions they asked me. I answered their questions by suggesting they head out with a goal in mind, rather than just seeing what happens.

“How about shooting a story with a beginning, a middle and an end?” I suggested. “Think of it like a journey, getting off at each bus stop along the way. You know, with a nice wide angle opening shot, followed by some close ups and a departure shot through a gate or down a road at the end”.

“I also need to paint one of the pictures, as part of the project” said the girl. “That’s great” I said, “what would you like to paint?” She told me she favoured landscapes and agreed to place some in her series. Pre-visualisation proved a powerful tool that helped her on her way. It also encouraged me to think a little more deeply about my own photography as well. Rather than just take pictures, I’m considering how best to take them and for whom.

Lenses of Croydon offers us all a platform for sharing. We should be careful in using it, thinking of others as we go. What do other members want to see and how do they want to feel in viewing our photographs? What is our real purpose in shooting and sharing? What would we like to happen as a result? I’ll return to these questions in my next post which will focus on creating powerful visual impact.

See you soon


About The Author

Andrew Cleminson

Reach deeper. Mean more. Stand the test of time.