I’ve written before about the Writing Excuses Podcast (highly recommended), and I was listening the other day when one of the hosts suggested that when waiting for something, like a dentists appointment, you exercise your creative writing brain by describing the room. That’s a terrific way to pass time, and I realized that’s exactly what I do, but with a photographer’s brain. It helps me grow, and I think you’ll get good use out of it, too.
Whenever my mind is given free time in a place, I light the room. I think about where I’d put a light to make this or that person look their best, and how to make the whole room look good as a backdrop, what lens I might use, and how to balance or eliminate the ambient light. It’s a really enjoyable exercise, and just like athletes who visualize their success it will help you be prepared for more situations by practicing in your mind. Once you’ve got a great picture in mind, mix it up by changing lenses in your mind, or moving your subject to a different vignette. You might consider writing/drawing these ideas so they are a handy reference when you have opportunity to bring a camera…or you might use it as a proposal on the spot to come back and shoot environmental portraits for the place.
My airport shoots are a good example of finding a picture in your mind’s eye and even making it happen right then. Actually, this is also why I had to quit my job and do photography full time: the production manager would be explaining a problem to me, expecting me to help solve it, but all I could focus on was how I’d make a portrait of him right there and how cool it would be to make a portrait right there. How’s a guy supposed to work when there’re portraits to be made?!
This has been shooting excuses. You’re out of excuses, now go shoot.