Keep It Stupid, Stupid: 5 steps to creating photographs with meaning
Two out of every three people are stupid, and so is the third one.
That’s right, if you’re smart, get stupid and get gettin’ fast. You see, you got this brain and the brain only likes two things, thinking and raisin bread. What’s that? You say you don’t like raisin bread? I didn’t say you like raisin bread. I said your brain does. Don’t argue me on this. My point is sometimes your brain gets in the way of you making stupid decisions. Why would you want to make a stupid decision? Because sometimes doing something stupid is brilliant.
Taking a stupid photograph – the steps:
- Don’t just go snapping away. I want you to think about it. Force your brain to stop trying to be smart. I SAID FORCE IT! Think of the dumbest idea you can come up with for a photograph. I’m talking about the concept, not the composition. Example off the top of my head: An old woman in a pink prom dress searches through a trash can for bottles. What? That’s the stupidest idea I can come up with? No. My brain is trying to force me to be sort of smart. RESIST! Let’s try that again. A normal looking guy is in his back yard rolled up in a rug. Yeah. Now we’re talking stupid.
- Don’t just go snapping away. Oh, I already said that. Now I want you to take your stupid idea and think about how you can make it look interesting. Work out the lighting, the props. Heck, throw some more stupid things in there. Props are great for making a stupid photograph stupider. A plastic turtle! Yeah, that’s a stupid prop.
- Okay, now we’ve got gas! You know, for this fire we’re starting. We’ve got a stupid idea that looks cool. If you made it to this step, I’m proud of you. A lot of people don’t make it this far. But don’t give up yet. Now we set up the photograph and get ready to take it. Don’t just go snapping away! I want you to confuse your model. Yes, confuse. Give them really stupid direction. Example (please come up with your own as I have a patent pending on these stupid directions): Tell your model to have a pretend argument with the pretend mailman who you pretend is there. Tell them to pretend the circus is in town and they have to make the soup. Circus soup. Anything. Just make sure it’s stupid
- Now Snap That Picture!
- Process the image in Photoshop or however you do it. Just make it look as good as you can. Fix the levels, the curves, whatever your tastes are. Don’t skimp just because it’s a stupid photo. If you followed the steps it should look like a really good photograph visually.
- Six steps? I thought you said five. Does your model look engaged, oozing with emotion? Does the lighting draw your eye around the image from what was intended to be meaningless prop to meaningless prop? Wait, where did all the stupid go? Make up a story about what the image might be trying to say. IMPOSE MEANING on it. It shouldn’t be hard. Maybe your image of the guy in the rug in the back yard is about feeling imprisoned by luxury, restrained from nature. Throw your first few “readings” of the image in the trash. Go deeper. Dive in there, be creative. Ta-Da! You should now have an image that looks like it has tons of meaning.
Your brain must be exhausted. Mine sure is! Reward your brain: Think about raisin bread.
If you can come up with such a meaningful meaning after you’ve shot a stupid idea, imagine what will happen when you work that hard coming up with a meaning BEFORE you take a good one.
Now post your “stupid” picture on flickr or your website or wherever and put a link to it in the comments below.
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