For years I struggled to find sources of inspiration for my shoots. I would constantly study posing cards and search Instagram but I never really pushed myself to try anything out of the ordinary. As I was walking around the mall last week it hit me. The mall or any shopping area is a GREAT place to get your inspiration in high gear!
1. Watch the light
One thing I noticed as I was patiently waiting for my wife to come out of the store was all of the different lighting patterns, shadows, highlights and how they changed. If you look at the image below you can see how light is coming through the glass panels at the top and reflecting off of the building. You can see some of the stores on fall under brighter areas where some are in the shade. Ask yourself, if you were shooting here where would your subject be? Where is the best light? Where is the worst light? Doing exercises when you are out and about help to train your brain to start to see the light and when you are working with a client or model you will be able to quickly identify where to place them!
2. People Watching
Taking the above exercise a step further, watch how people interact with each other, watch how they walk, watch their expressions. Just like the above exercise will help you with lighting, this exercise will help you to know how humans naturally interact with one another as well as their environment. Another great activity is to study their facial features. Do they have a long nose? How would you light it to hide the nose and make it look smaller? Do they have nice cheek bones that you could use a beauty setup with? Being able to quickly identify features will help you in studio to identify how to light a person.
3. Find inspiration in the advertisements
The two images below show two really different types of shoots that I would love to do. One is very high fashion and the other is very edgy sports. I plan to use these two images to put together a styled shoot where I can create similar work for my portfolio. They key for finding images like these two is to find things outside of your comfort zone. Once you are outside of your comfort zone that is where the magic happens!
4. Identify what the target demographic is by studying the ads
I challenge you to go into a store that you normally wouldn’t go into. For example maybe you are not a very active person and never shop at Under Armor. Go into under armor and figure out what are the ads trying to convey? Who is their target demographic? Being able to identify this will help you identify how you will sell to certain clients.
Example: Maybe you want to focus on high end headshots in your business. As you are identifying your target demographic, find out where they shop and then go there. What do you see? What are the ads conveying? What location are they shooting in? What props are in the photos? Doing this exercise is like having a highly paid marketing team working for you and doing the work for you!
5. Figure out how images are lit
The below image is the whole reason that I decided to write this article. I sat in front of this window for a solid 10 minutes studying the image. I found myself studying the lighting and figuring out how the photographer created this dynamic image and how I could re-create this.
How was this image lit? What modifiers did they use? Was it natural light or was it artificial?
Here is a video where I share the points that I made in the post above!
Hopefully this sparked your creativity a little bit and I challenge you to go out there and be inspired by the environment around you. Please share some photos of what you find in your local shopping area in the comments below!