Follow these steps to find great photography ideas
A great project always starts with a good idea and revolves around it. But how do you find good ideas? Can it be taught? Jamie Windsor believes it’s possible, and in this video he’ll share with you four steps to getting great ideas for your photos and projects.
Technically, there is no formula that will help you learn to come up with ideas. You can learn about composition, lighting, and other aspects of photography, but separating a good idea from a bad one might be a bit trickier. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to expand our minds and push them to come up with new ideas.
Jamie gives examples of three fantastic photo projects: Touching strangers by Richard Renaldi Alina by Bettina von Zwehl and Lucas Zimmermann Traffic lights. All three are the result of brilliant ideas, the ones that make you think “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Corn Why didn’t I think of that? You know all the elements needed to create plans like these. You have the skills and equipment you need. And yet, you didn’t have the same ideas. It can be a little frustrating, but instead of dwelling on how you didn’t come up with the idea you like, you should ask yourself how another photographer did. How does their brain work and how did it generate such a good idea? It is not the knowledge of particular elements, it is the way in which one connects them.
Our mind has the ability to connect different elements, even though they are seemingly illogical and unconnected. This is essentially how ideas are born. But how can we make the process more deliberate? Jamie suggests these four steps you can take to exercise your creativity and come up with better ideas for photography. And if you ask me, it works for other art forms too.
Step 1: Feed your mind
Consume lots of high-quality media: photos, movies, paintings, books, comics… You get the idea. Fill your life with creativity by creating, but also by looking at the work of other creators. Learn new skills, travel to new places, try new techniques and mediums and combine them.
But keep in mind: it’s not just what you know, it’s how you think. To come up with good ideas, you have to get out of your thinking rules. You must challenge them and provoke them. And how can you do it? Well, the easiest way is to talk to the people you disagree with. And not just to prove your point, but to really listen to what they have to say. In this way, you can change your point of view, see things from another angle, expand your knowledge and your view of the world. In my experience, another thing that has helped me change my way of thinking is the psychotherapy sessions. They helped me change some harmful behavioral patterns, which pushed my thoughts in new directions, which then led to new ideas.
Another thing you should keep doing is creating. It doesn’t mean creating a masterpiece every time, just practicing. You can do things aimlessly and see where it takes you, like exercise.
Step 2: The network in default mode
It’s, quite simply, how you connect the pieces in Step 1. Almost no one has a good idea by sitting down and thinking really hard to come up with one. This usually happens in everyday and mundane activities like making coffee, washing dishes and of course: taking a shower. We perform these familiar actions “on autopilot”. During these times, your brain works differently, and it’s the key time to form new ideas by inventing concepts that don’t already exist in the world. Personally, I often find ideas for my stories while cleaning the house or doing the dishes. Just let your mind wander and it will take you to new places.
Step 3: Write it down!
When an idea pops into your head, stop what you’re doing and write it down. Do it right away! You may think you’ll remember it, but once your brain goes off “autopilot” and starts focusing on other activities, the idea might fade away. Trust me on this one.
Step 4: Act on it
A good idea without you executing it is worthless. So once it comes to your mind and you write it down, you feel the urge to create and you get excited about it. If you’re like me, you might even be obsessed with it! Well, use that drive, passion, or obsession while the idea is still fresh in your mind. It won’t last forever, and again, trust me. Jamie mentions all of these points in the video, but I can tell so much!
Even though Jamie has made the whole process of getting ideas less abstract, it’s still not a process you can rush out and do in a few hours by following the steps. It’s more like a practice for your daily life. You’ll learn new creative habits, you’ll change the way you think, and over time you’ll build up an inventory of great ideas. Here are some additional things to keep in mind during the process
- Be true to yourself in your ideas: try to avoid clichés, be innovative and see the world through your own lens.
- Don’t be afraid of bad ideas: Good ideas often come after several bad ones. Alternatively, you can turn a bad idea into a good one by modifying it and building on it.
- Have a return: talk to other people and see what they think of your project but,
- Believe in your idea: you need to get feedback, but you also need to have conviction in your idea and believe in it.
Do you believe that coming up with ideas can be learned to a certain extent? What helps you come up with ideas?