In the world of business the term “think outside of the box” is often heard when there is a desperate attempt to find a solution to a problem when all conventional methods have failed. It is often interpreted as meaning there is a need to come up with a solution using novel ideas that may require a radically different approach or mindset. However, I think this is an incorrect interpretation and is often the reason why a solution is not found. To me, thinking outside of the box is trying to do whatever it is that you already do well and incrementally adapt it to find new solutions to problems. I was recently reminded of this when trying to find a solution to a photography related problem.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we have a new addition to the family. Our son, Patrick was born a few weeks ago and I have received many requests from our families and friends around the world for photographs. Although we have two other young children I have never really done much more than take snapshots of the kids – my wife is the “family photographer”. However, in that same earlier post I mentioned that inspiration from other photographers has piqued my interest in photographing Patrick in the context of a photography project. And therein lie the problem. Although I know I want to create a body of fine art black and white photographs of my baby son I have never done this type of work before. I have spent the last few weeks asking myself lots of questions, such as where should I start and how do I photograph a baby and what message do I want the body of work to convey. However, after thinking about this again the other night I realized that I hadn’t taken a single photograph. More importantly however, I realized that all of my questions were delaying the start of the project and since babies grow quickly, unless I started to think outside of the box I was in danger of missing the opportunity.
Once I had established the need to think outside of the box to solve this problem I immediately started to think about how I could utilize the same approach I have developed over time (i.e. my workflow and style) to create images. This was when I realized that the only thing new to me was the subject. I can use the same technical skills and tools to achieve good composition, exposure, tonal range and focus and I can allow my subconscious to creatively drive feeling into the final images. I now have my starting point and I am now looking forward to photographing this little guy’s life. And the project has one added benefit – I will be able to spend valuable one on one time with Patrick.