WHY SKETCH OR WRITE IDEAS?
Innocent child. A small flower bud.
A powerful, sometimes evil personality. A spider mum. Florist suggests painting the mum a dark color.
Idea of a silhouette, with the flowers representing the different personalities inside the silhouette.
Anger. Broken vase. Shards.
Love. What things represent love? The color red. Red roses. A dozen roses.
Words and sketches are photographic ideas waiting to happen.
Creating "...the wall..."
These images are part of the mental illness project I'm doing. The image on the left was created after interviewing Tammy. She lives with several mental illnesses, but the one I focused on for the project is dissociative disorder (most of us know this as multiple personality disorder).
Tammy has five distinct personalities, but they aren't all equal in their presence. You can see at the top of the first photograph the ideas fleshed out on paper for ...the wall.... I was collaborating with a florist, as I wanted to use five different flowers, but wasn't sure what kinds of flowers to use to represent the different personalities. I had asked Tammy to describe each of her personalities, so I had those descriptors to work with.
I had also seen photographs where a silhouette is seen with another photo "inside" of it. Which for me was perfect for representing the different identities that are a part of Tammy.
Incorporating a wall was another element for this image. I had found her statement of "I don't let anyone behind the wall..." so impactful. Probably because I felt as though she had given me a peek behind it during the interview. When in fact, she hadn't. Tammy is a really neat gal. She can be pretty reserved at times, but that's what makes her sense of humor all the funnier, cause it kind of sneaks up on you. :)
The final image is a composite of three photographs: the silhouette is actually me, the flowers, and the brick from the front of our house.
Creating Red for love. And...anger.
As you can see by comparing the early sketch with the final photograph, I was pretty clear early on how I wanted this to look once I settled on the final idea.
I'll admit that it wasn't easy for me to figure out a conceptual photograph for Richard's response about his mental illness. I had to run a few ideas off of my husband and a few friends, because I wasn't quite getting the visual right for the idea behind both love and anger. Of course the color red was an obvious choice, but I had to photograph something more than just a red wall! So what could be interpreted as both love and anger? And I didn't want the anger portion to be interpreted as only the feeling of hate. Although I do realize there's an overlap between those two emotions, and even my resulting concept and image can be interpreted that way. Which is just fine. (No doubt Richard has felt hate towards his illness.)
Read more about creating this image on this earlier blog post.
Do I always pre-visualize like this?
Are you kidding? Ha ha, no I don't. I'd like to say my creativity was this thought out, but most of the time it's just me in the flow of things. But when I'm "assignment focused" for the lack of a better description, this is a good way to create more efficiently, not wasting time out in the field. (Or if I'm using film, not wasting frames of film that cost money to develop.) Or if you're a painter, you aren't wasting paint on a canvas. A jewelry maker isn't wasting their time, and sometimes materials, if they have even a rough idea of what they want the end result to be.
In the end, I did find this extremely helpful to me to get my ideas down first. I had a lot of images to create, and this also helped me not forget those random good ideas that come when you're out there creating something else. Or just driving down the road, focused on steering and driving, then BAM this great idea comes to you. (I've been known to pull over and write it down.)
Give this a try some time. Think of what you want to create, even if it's a general idea. Write down some ideas you have, even make up some rough sketches if you think that might help. I'd love to know if this helped your creative process — feel free to comment below.
Thanks for reading. Share this post if you love it. And if these images speak to you, they are for sale in my Shop.