As creatives, we are expected to be, well, creative. But talk to us after another grueling wedding season where we’ve shot at the same venue three times in the last month, or after the umpteenth senior portrait session, or after any portrait session at the beach. Sometimes, creativity is tough. It’s not a rabbit that we can just magically pull out of a magician’s hat whenever we feel like it. When it flows, it can flow like the Geysers of Old Faithful, but when the well dries up, we want to hang our cameras up forever (the same goes for writing, too, and any other medium associated with the right side of the brain).
To keep our creativity flowing, we need to be doing a number of things to protect it; avoiding burn out, always feeding it with inspiration and continuing to challenge it whenever possible. Enter Canon Australia’s The Lab series. Like Polar Bears on the LOST island, Canon Aus has developed a series of photographer experiments where they gather six photographers and give them a task to push the boundaries of their creativity. In the first of the series, The Decoy, six photographers were tasked to photograph a man they only knew one fact about. Unbeknownst to them, the man was an actor and portrayed himself as a different person from various walks of life – a millionaire, an ex-convict, etc. to each photographer. It was interesting to see how different each of the portraits would look based on the information they were given (See the article here).
Since that experiment, The Lab has done a few other interesting experiments. In one experiment, the photographers were taken to a cemetery, tasked to capture “eternal life” in one image…without a camera. They really challenged the photographers to think and talk through how they would portray the assignment with the final message that “the most important tool in photography is your mind.” Watch Mindframe here.
Another video put six different photographers in a studio with simple objects with one rule: they had to take turns shooting the given object, but they could not shoot the same image twice. The group starts with a banana and as each takes their turn, you can see the wheels turning in their heads to try to be inspired to do something different than the rest, delivering the message that inspiration can be found everywhere…if you look hard enough. Watch Evolution here.
The most recent video was released this week. Six photographers were invited to do a studio shoot. When they arrived, they found that all they had to work with was a blank backdrop marked with red tape. They were not allowed to use props or take selfies. My favorite of the bunch is the last guy who undresses, tosses his clothes in the air, and gets the shot. The message: “Creativity needs nothing but you.” Watch Blank below.
I think these exercises are a great way for photographers to stretch our creative brains. We should all be doing “experiments” like this to help us stay fresh and to exercise the creativity muscle. If you want to participate in Canon’s Lab, you can fill out this form here.