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Finding creativity

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Frank Doorhof, who introduces himself.)

“I think this is one of the most heard problems in my workshops, ‘How do I find creativity?'” -Frank Doorhof

But before we get into this, let me introduce myself. My name is Frank Doorhof, a fashion/celebrity photographer based in the Netherlands and specialized in teaching workshops. I was brought up with a passion for photography/video and movies. I still remember being glued to the TV at my grandparents home because MTV would be coming, and my grandparents would get it 1-2 hours before my parents did (same street but old times). Seeing MTV changed everything for me.

MTV was inspiring when they actually showed music videos.
MTV was inspiring when it actually played music videos.

Learning anything before the Internet

You have to realize that this was a period where there was no internet, where I had to learn everything I wanted to know about a subject from books or magazines. A few years later, for example, I picked up the guitar and really had to struggle to get guitar magazines, Dutch magazines were a bit boring for my taste and the American ones were not sold everywhere so I really had to work to learn.

When I wanted to learn something, I had to depend on what was on offer, so when my music magazine was about jazz that month … well, that month I had to learn jazz. I simply didn’t NOT do it! I did my utmost best to get the magazine so every article I had to read, every ad I looked at and every single lesson I followed.

Inspiration from the movie "Blow Up".
Inspiration from the movie “Blow Up.”

Saturated field of knowledge

Nowadays we are oversaturated with information. Inspiration comes from every angle. I’m almost afraid that because we are so oversaturated we just don’t pick up quality education anymore.

Music? Photography? Any subject, really

Don’t get me started on learning music, nowadays you don’t even have to for example learn one style, you can literally find millions of tutorials on one note if necessary.

So it’s not weird that people don’t read whole articles anymore but just skip around and sometimes miss amazing information or tips that way, There is just too much, way too much information.

Information overload is a time vampire.
Information overload is a time vampire.

New places inspire or do they?

It’s a bit like street or landscape photography, we always travel far away to get amazing shots and think we have to do that to get great photos. Other photographers visit your area and are in awe of its beauty. I’ve had this happen many times when we visit people we met online during our trips. New is easy. Familiar is not.

The solution is knowing the problem

So how do we get that creativity back now that we probably know the problem?

Weeding out the proper articles and/or videos from the ones that you don’t find interesting would be a dayslong job, so maybe it’s time to — dare I say it — Just go back to the “old days.” Look around you and see what you can shoot, give yourself the assignment to just walk around in a seemingly uninteresting area and take amazing shots. You will quickly find out that it’s hard at first. When you really work for your shots you are becoming more and more creative by finding solutions. Now, when you are in a great location, a familiar one or one that’s completely new, creativity becomes much easier.

Creative styling — style the photographer in more elegance than the model.
Creative styling — style the photographer in more elegance than the model.

Me, photographing models

The first thing I do is not just shoot the model in jeans and tank top.

I try to tell a story. That means getting the perfect expression. It means making some cool setups, maybe with the lighting, a different background and styling.

Expressions are a big part of visual stories.
Expressions are a big part of visual stories.

The real question is where do you start with your creativity?

Inspiration then creativity

Well, remember my remark about the movies?
Why not take your hobby as inspiration, for me, it’s comic books, movies, old camera gear and guitars. You’ll often see me using these as props or as a start for a cool shot. It can be just to throw something cool and into the shot. It can also be the props helping to tell a story.

Always remember that on a blank canvas it’s hard to draw something without an idea. When you already have an idea and start with that it’s much easier to build upon that.

Think about it.

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