Introduction: Cost-Effective Creative Shoots
My name is ken klosterman and welcome to cost effective creative shoots with lindsay adler. Lindsay is a teacher author, dedicated educator who was just named one of the brand new cannon explorers of light and congratulations to you, lindsay, she is here with us as one of our most prolific educators on creative lives, so please help me welcome lindsey adler back. Theo guys, you're good, very encouraging and very uplifting. Thank you. I am very happy that I was asked to do this presentation because basically, it's show how you take pictures that you have fun taking, you know what I mean? Cost effective creative shoots, that's what I do for a living, and so no matter if I'm just shooting a more simplified porch or something high fashion cost effective is always important because even the big clients, they want to know where they can save money. But if you look at my portfolio now, I think stuff, I think things look expensive, right? Okay, actually, nowadays doesn't cost me any more money...
than it used to because I started and I built step by step better connections, that better resource is and things like that. So today I am a fashion photographer in new york city, I've been in new york for six years now I've been shooting for fifteen and usually on photo week it's using my birthday but this one was a little bit later so I'm gonna tell you all my birthday because I started when I was fifteen and I've been in business for fifteen years do you get my birthday last night? Okay, excellent. Anyway, the point of this is that when I started I started with a budget of zero because I was fifteen you have no money and so I wanted to figure out how to build my portfolio and how to get to where I am today. So I'm going to walk you through not only how to figure out how to be creative because that's I think that's a huge huge barrier something really difficult how tio, how do you become creative and then how to do so without spending a lot of money? So that is the core of what we will spend the rest of the afternoon on? And if anyone wants to connect with me here's, all of my social links probably the easiest way to ask me a question would be on facebook through my facebook messages, so send questions that way and then also just chat first league on instagram that's where I update the most silly stuff, the fun stuff all right so here's the deal creativity is not expensive and it blows my mind when I look at the photographer's that I love some of them that I absolutely adore and they have behind the scenes of some of their chutes and I was like, oh, they use the flashlight that was five dollars from walmart and they got that incredible image and we all we all know that, but the problem is we fixed a and we think that money makes things better, so I've got some things so it's it's not the money really, really it isn't, and so you'll see some of the gear that I'm using actual lights that I have here, a pro photo gear but every single shoot that I will show you today, you could do with whatever lights you have, it could be with speed life, and I'll show you how you could do that or it could be with the alien bees that you have or whatever lights that you have often unless you have higher demands light is light it's how you modify it and what you do with it. And so for a long time, their images, my portfolio that I did with, like, you know, ten year old beat up old like it didn't matter how I use it, so I'm going to give you some tips on that, and so just to give you an example, I'm going to use some of my old work, but some of my more recent don't work as well to show you that doesn't need to be complex. It doesn't need to be expensive. It doesn't need to be much of anything. So this is one of my favorite shoots of recent past. I shot this, I don't know, maybe six months ago, earlier this spring and the summer here I mean in the winner. And this is one light off to the right. And in this case, it's a big umbrella with diffusion. But it could have been a big soft box. You could do this so it's. Whatever light you have with the soft box or umbrella on it. The next thing down it was two bags of flour from the grocery store. And then the last part is I had to bring a lee it's hard, and I had some scrap tool. You know, the tool fabric. I had some scrap tool in. What we did is we took a piece of tool tied around her waist and then took the rest of it and strong it through. So the whole chew, it really was scraps and a bag of flour in one light. And this is one of my favorite shoots that I did this entire year, and so when I see that, then I go, you know what? Sometimes I do make things too complicated sometimes, and sometimes really, when I simplify things, my ideas get more creative freedom almost. I don't have ten lights and all these crazy props, I have to start thinking, okay, what can I do to make this more exciting? So I find that challenging or here's another really simple shoot. This shoe is one light it's, a beauty dish off to the left hand side and there's beauty dish made for all different brands make bu dishes for speed light, you know that photo ticks makes a beauty dish for speed light, so you can use it no matter what let you use. And then also I went to jo ann fabrics and grant a ten dollars a piece of scrap fabric. We cut off a little piece that we tied around her chest. The other piece I wrapped around her head, and then we just flapped it. But the thing that I think is amazing is that I've gone to a couple meetings with art direction, art directors, we'll go through my entire portfolio, and two of them said, we like this image best and its image that cost me ten dollars, with one light it's, not the ones that are huge productions are really expensive to do because all the idea behind that so again I'm saying oh you know simple and clean is what captures people's attention and it makes it more interesting and a lot of times those air really inexpensive to make here's another that was really popular in my portfolio with a fashion editorial that I did with you haven't organic seem we bought water based paint and put in her hair which she agreed to so really we asked her we bought pussy willows that they had at a floral shop and then behind her the background is a painter's cloth that we had was an extra one we already had a painter's cloth and its window light and you can actually see what the setup looks like in the next slide so she is sitting there's me laying on the ground okay um she's sitting so there's a window behind me so it's nice flat light on her face but I wanted a little bit more drama so it's two pieces of black foam core it could be a piece of cardboard that's black or michaels you could grab one of those pieces of black foam core that they have it think it's maybe for ninety nine apiece and I put it on either side affirm what that does is it eats up the light on the side of her face and that's why she has that really nice jaw line and a little bit more shadowing and so if you see that was ah that burlap on her head there was a spool of it for six dollars at michael's so I mean this we did this whole editorial it got published it was really popular and the whole thing is, you know, maybe fifteen, twenty dollars worth of props that I went around to michael's in a florist shop and said that looks organic that looks organic and kind of put the shoot together that way uh but here's the other one that we have to talk about so it's not the gear it's not the gear no no really it's like it's it's really not big ear I promise so let's just take a look at that in this to shoot here I wanted to do film you are and I wanted it to be dramatic but this was shot with speed lights and these particular ones were shot with faux take speed life which are less expensive than a lot of the name brand ones but there's one that's even less expensive like the young nu o's. And if you have the right adapters, you'll get the same shot and I don't think you would know that that creative shot was shot with a speed light doesn't scream speed likes me and so if you want to know how this one's lit the two back speed lights are totally bare nothing on them so no cost there and then on the main light that really tight dramatic light on her face is something called a grid and that's what grids do they take the light and they shrink it down to a little circle and so I have that grid haven't really tight to her face and so I get that hollywood glam film knew our look with speed lights so if you've got studio lights great you got speed lights great if you like to shoot naturally when there's so many different things that you can do so if you say it's the gear it's an excuse you totally is or in this example I really like the shot I think it's very soft and romantic it was a forty inch square uh bucks and I shot the modeling like it didn't even strobe it's just the modeling right there or if you want to try something funky for a creative in camera effect goes no lens babies len's babies you can get one of the kids for three, four hundred bucks for the actual base event. What they do is the kind of called the poor man's tilt shift it's not really what it is but what a lens baby allows you to dio is that allows you instead of having depth of field bee you're in focus in the background out of focus instead, so be a circle and it's okay your head in that circles out of focus, but everything outside of it are their head is in focus and everything outside of it's out of focus. So instead of foreground middle ground back ground up the field, it's actually like a tight circle, it fades away to the side and that one's called a sweet thirty five. So as you can see, we got it establishes, not gear. You can shoot window light like we had for the organic shot we can shoot one like you could shoot a modeling like the creativity isn't based on that at all. It's usually based on the ideas, but this is what I found out. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my story now. I started serving business when I was fifteen and I started with high school, senior portrait and families and I I don't well, those of you that know me know secret I'm actually a huge nerd, but when I became a fashion photographer, I was attracted to fashion photography, not because of the fashion, but because of the aesthetics like I just loved the way it looked, so I tried to dress the part a little bit better, but I really am a nerd, okay, just trust me on it, so anyway, so when I first picked up photography, my first started to experiment I did not consider myself an artist. If anyone would have asked me if I was an artist, the answer was no. If anyone would have asked me if I was creative, the answer with absolutely, positively not in high school I took not studio are I took computer aided design. I didn't take a painting class. I took digital electronics. I took like the tech classes because that's what was interesting to me? So when I I took up photography, I was much more on the technical and analytical side. You know, I wanted to understand. Okay, this this whole inn for square law saying and I wanted to understand exploded. I was the tech side of it. So I did not consider myself creative whatsoever. And if I show you some of my early work, you ready? I included these in my boot camp. Some of these pictures. So you guys get to enjoy this again. So this is in two thousand four and these are all shoots that I got paid for, and some are engagement sessions and high school senior portrait. And I was not flexing my creative muscle. I was not exercising at whatsoever. It was very, very weak and kind of sad, and so this is when I was actually just finishing well. You all made it so does matter. Finishing high school. Okay, so this is in high school are practicing. And I was the technician. Photographer, not the creative photographer saw myself completely differently. Okay, so in college and when syracuse university I took a class on fashion photography and I fell in love and like I said, it was the aesthetics. The light is beautiful. Proposing is beautiful. Suddenly everything works together, and it filled me like I look at an image and it it would just stimulate me in so many different ways. And so I started to say, ok, I want to do that. I want to be more creative. And now when I learned about lighting it's not just so I can execute a photo and be the technical photographer now I want to use it as a tool. So when I have a creative idea, I know what tools to pick up its what my brain kind of switched over. So if you fast forward tio college, these just in my college pictures and the picture on the left was shot with a projector like a regular projector, and I found a pattern online. And that was my friend and I took hair gel, and I put her here in the middle and I painted her with blue lips. Sick and stuff, and the girl in the middle was my roommate. The girl on the far right was my best friend, and I went to michael's and just bought a ton of paint. Long story short, none of these photos, they're on my portfolio, and they have not been in my portfolio for a very long time, but I started to flex my creative muscles a little bit. There was no reason for me to cover a girl with paint, but I did it because I wanted to and getting inspired. So what I did is I gave myself a budget of one hundred twenty five dollars a month total to spend on shoes, and that meant everything, anything that was related to the shoot. Now, at that time, I borrowed other people's gear, so I had friends or there's, people that I interned for assisted, that let me borrow gear to practice, or I would use natural light or a projector, but the actual spending on shoot things that I would buy are putting things together, paying for hair and makeup. In the beginning, it was one hundred twenty five dollars a month, so I did that for quite a while, and now this is all pictures I took in the last three months, and now I don't. Pay for any of them they don't actually cost me anything I've figured out a lot of the tips I'm going to give you in a couple minutes, but I've got a much better grasp on creativity for lighting but also concept and the angle and all of it working together so it is I mean, sincerely it is muscle, it is something that you the more you d'oh, the more you create, I think you come up with more ideas and it's when you're afraid to go, try something that you're not practising your not making mistakes, not learning anything and you don't become more creative. The best thing you can do is make mistakes because I've got all these cool, creative things that I came up with that originally were terrible mistakes that I then morphed into interesting solutions that's kind of some of my work, so this is how I felt I always felt that I wasn't creative because I was the technician and once in a while I feel like I got a good photo. So there was this one photo ahead of my portfolio, I think it's in here later on with a girl which had bright red lips and she has spiraled glasses on it was like when my first fashion shots and I used to think when I would get a shot like that, it was one hundred percent luck I happen to find something cool and happen to get a good photo out of it or I happened to come up with a good idea. I completely wrote it all off as luck, and so I kind of thought of it as lightning strikes, like once in a while, it's gonna happen, and once in a while, I might be in the way so it might work out, but you cannot be a professional photographer on luck. It does not work out, so what I did, I started surrounding myself with other creative people in college, whether it was people that were film majors or other photographers, I started to hang out with makeup artists and people like that, and what I realized is very firmly that creativity isn't out of luck and inspiration isn't spent air it's not it's, not something that just happens and there's some quote that I saw once it says something like, you know, inspiration doesn't come to you, you chase it with a club, I was like, yeah, yeah, I feel very strongly about that that's exactly what I did today. So this is what I figured out as I watched more artists, and I didn't know this I read now their books on this whole topic, but I didn't have an art background there's something that's referred to as the creative process all different photographers, different artists when they create, they have something they do repeatedly whether they realize it or not you have a place that you get inspiration from you just might not know it yet but there's someplace that is a source of inspiration over and over again so professional artists what they have to do to survive is they have to figure out that process and do it over and over and over again so that they have repeat ability and reliability and so they don't have to call on the muse and hope that it comes they tell them used to come here and there and then they have great ideas so that's what it is it's creativity broken down into steps and so I would love to be able to save you all okay here's the creative process ready go and then give you exactly what you need to be inspired. However, I've taught classes alongside my very best friends brooke shading, extremely creative photographer and we both and completely independently of one another have done presentations on creativity and the creative process, and when we teach side by side, she'll tell her creative process also mine and they don't overlap at all there's no similarities between them are very, very few when she is talking about inspiration a lot of times it does have to do with emotions and more storytelling if you look at me, I like things that are inspired by colors, and they're really clean and graphic and it's more based on elements than on emotions and storytelling, and she gets her ideas one place, and I get another so here's the deal, you have to figure out your creative process, but I think far too often photographers that don't think they're that creative, they don't think about it because they're like, well, I'm not that creative, I don't have a creative process, and then you stayed not so creative. So this is what I give you a task to do, an assignment to figure out your creative process, one way to start it if you look at your portfolio or all of the images you've ever taken. And if you look at your three favorite creative images that the three favorite images you've ever taken don't just say those are my favorites, but actually figure out why. What do they have in common? Like what's, the common subject matter? What? Maybe it's a color palette, maybe it's an emotion? And then when you're thinking about how you got there, ask yourselves what inspired you? How did you get that idea? And what do they all have in common and I I mean, I figured out in a lot of mine. What my process was I traced it back and a lot of times I was inspired by a single object I'll tell you kind of how I develop mine in a minute so it's a task for you to take a look at your own images and ac she say okay as brilliant as I may be that wasn't a strike moment of brilliance really where did the idea come from? It came from somewhere so trying to harness that in the future and there's also if you look online there are tons of different creative exercises things to test yourself and to get you to think outside the box so one of them that I've actually done with brooke in a workshop is something as simple as making lists and categories of random things lists of colors list of subject matters like chairs ocean I mean whatever it maybe maybe it's a list of moods or maybe it's it's a feeling and then make these massive lists and randomly connect the dots so I need to do something with a red chair that feels angry I am even something like that just to push you because you're going to do it your own way and so if you can't come up with ideas sometimes it's really interesting to say all right so if I'm stuck with doing a red chair that's anger what does that remind me of and maybe it reminds you of the queen of hearts you know, maybe in alice in wonderland thing, and so then you do a shoot based on that, so you could do creative exercises if you just don't know where your ideas come from, and you want to push yourself, really? What I usually do is exercise number two is I either pick a theme or a single subject matter, this is my personal style, so I will pick a pair of glasses that I know I have. First you I found him on ebay, I found whatever, like, funky and I'll say, all right, what does this remind me of? What does it feel like? It feels futuristic, right? Futuristic reminds me of medals, metal, and I just I just brainstorm and write down all the things that come to mind with this element, and then what I usually do is I go online and I say, okay, so I've got I've got metal, I've got futuristic, I've got glasses and all do some image searching, but it's, basically a more organized way of connecting random dots, but the random dots came out of my head. I was looking at these glasses. What did it bring to mind? And I'll see all those lists and say, oh, okay, I could do something with these metal glasses on a metal background, and I'm going to add a blue tone, because that feels futuristic to me, and actually did that for a futurist. Six you I made the background out of shiny poster board, and then I dressed drawl in medal. And a lot of the medal I even got was just trimmings from a trimming shop with the really cheap metal that they make necklaces and things out of. But it looked like she was a futuristic warrior, so there are creative exercises you can do. If you don't know your creative process yet, so reflect on it and consider trying one of these. But my number one tip to being creative is to stop believing you are creative, because, that's, what happened to me, and I didn't think I was creative. So then I had no process, so I had no repeat ability. So I actually wasn't creative until I figured out how to harness it.