Inspiration and Making It Your Own

So, I recently did a test shoot based off of several of my favorite photographers. It got me thinking about my readers and how photographers (whether amateur or otherwise) might be interested in how to take inspiration from great photographers and then turn it into something that is uniquely theirs and no-one elses. Without further ado, the post. The fabric test shoot really came to being when I was introduced to Solve Sundsbo's work called 'The Ghosts of Fashion'. A  lot of the work I collect on my hard drive is great work but every now and then I get a piece I absolutely love and this was one of those sets.The way the fabric moves across the model, the exquisite all makes for a great photograph. I knew instantly that I wanted to create a work that embodied that movement and now I just needed to make it my own.

One of the ways I do this is by pulling from other photographers. Zhang Jingna's work was pulled from my hard drive into an 'Inspiration Folder' that I have for every shoot--it'll have everything from my mood boards, to my sketches of final results, and photographs from other photographers but sometimes it's as little as a single photograph and a color.

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(Above: Solve Sundsbo's Ghosts of Fashion)


It's like tracing, for me. I trace the original image, then, I trace the traced copy, and then again and again until what I have looks beautiful in it's own right, may be similar to the original, but stands on it's own. That's the way this process works, you build and build and build--when your a pro, or working on a large shoot it'll be building on the make-up artist, the content editor, the designer, the client, the art director, ect.'s ideas--and then you end up with an original piece. Of course, it's always nice to credit the original piece--but that may not always be possible.

Clarification time, this post, in no means, is supporting the copying of someone else's work. It's wrong and it doesn't mean that your 'inspired' by them whatsoever. Turning someone's color photograph into a black and white, or vice versa, doing some small post-production editing or even large scale production, doesn't count. If it's copyrighted, if it's taken by someone else, then it's not yours to mess with.

(Redemption by Zhang Jingna)

(Prelude by Zhang Jingna)

So by this point, you should be able to see where I am referring to when I reference the above images. After I have the images in my mind, it all comes down to getting the model, the make-up artist, my assistant and myself to work together to create the final product. I was really interested in doing something with a royal blue and I also wanted a soft fabric with a lot of movement. After looking through dozens of yards of fabrics at Jo Ann's I selected a navy chiffon. It moved really well when I unrolled it. For this shoot, I also knew that I was going to need a large amount of fabric and I ended up with 9 3/4 yards of fabric. When we started with the shoot, Jacob (my assistant) and I were playing with it and discovered that we need to cut the fabric into two parts for greater movement. It kept getting stuck around our legs otherwise!

The results from the shoot are below: