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The Creative Mindset

Lesson 6 from: Creative Expression in Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

6. The Creative Mindset

Lesson Info

The Creative Mindset

Well, we're gonna continue on. And normally when I do this session, I eventually get into lighting, okay? And taking the mister and lady, Where did that? So the good news. In fact, John even said that is that we kind of did the lighting thing and I talked about the simplicity of lighting and modifiers and all that. And then we did some photo shop and jealous. And then we're talking about the creative mindset being an artist. And you said that's actually better to do it this way. Because now you're Maurin tuned too instead of in the beginning. So anyways, it's kind of fun, but the session would do right now is sort of leaning into how to think about actually on the set, making images so and how that process works. So we actually had a question kind of like that. So I asked what I want to do. I want Oh, I wanna move into that and then the very last session because we're getting down to the end here. I'm gonna take images and we're gonna look at him and I'm gonna talk about how he did it.

Well, I was thinking when I did it. The process, you know, and so that'll be kind of fun time too. So that'll be our wrap up at the very end. So, um, when I'm taking pictures, there's things that influence me, right? And so that so Because I have things like being color blind, or I'm only five foot 11. I'm not six foot nine. Um, because I have weeks, the strengths and all those things that plays a my history, the history who you know, uh, be a little kid And how I grew up plays into, um, the decision making process. So when it comes down to make any creative decision shit, the creative process has everything to do with your intuitive emotional feelings approach. Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. That sounds like blowing with the wind. Right? So let's back up. I'm gonna say it again. The creative process has everything to do with you're intuition. What's going on emotionally and feelings. And so because something has to shape your decision. And so if you said a, let's say you have a camera that has auto exposure. Auto focus, auto composed auto. I mean, there's at some point you gotta take out the auto. It's got to be to you. And you kind of have an auto to which is, does it feel right? Is it? Is it? Is it working? And so this is how important it is. Something drives you and what is it? It's your feelings, your emotions, your intuition. And so that's a valuable thing. Don't be afraid of that. Use it. It's to your benefit. So I have a I have a saying that a technical instrument can never make a creative decision. This is reserved for the human mind, but we want a technical instrument to do that. Right. So what you talked about flash meters? You know, some instructors we'll teach you alighting with flash meter. Another is wrong with that. And a flash meter has its purpose. And camera stores like to sell him. Manufacturers make flash meters, and when I'm on a set, I haven't for 25 years used a flash meter. What do I use my intuition? Because I've learned something. Yes, A flash meter might get me close, but here's the problem with the flash meter. Um and I when I was starting out, I was kind of figured it all out and I'd ask Body. I asked a pro. Okay. When you have a flash meter, do you point the flash meter toward the light source over toward the camera half, um said toward the camera have said toward the light source. So you've the pros. Couldn't make their mind up split. So let's say I have a light right here and lights coming from here. It's my edge light. I take a flash meter and I go F 11.3. Do I set my camera Love F 11.3. No. Well, that confuses me right there. Right. So now I gotta calculate it. So I have to say, Okay. I want my edge light to stop More that might what would be considered my overhead light. But you saw me, Member My overhead light zone two. I was changing it up and down constantly. So, for a sports scenario, I want a darker here, right? For a beauty, I want a lighter. So that difference is Could be a stop or more on that, maybe two stops. So then I got to go in my head. I gotta figure out well for a sports It's got to be so many different ratios lighting whatever F stops for beauty. And so I got this head in my head. I gotta have all these calculations, Does a flash or does a flash me to tell you where to put that EJ light? Now, if it's too far forward is a flash me to tell you it was too far forward. What tells you is for Ford. You're you're an artist, your hair's too far forward Now when I take a picture and you take a picture where I say it's too far forward may not be the same place you say it's too far forward When you were doing, you know that's right, That's that looks great. And you go no farther out. Yeah, okay. So of technical instruments cannot make a creative decision for you that's reserved for you. The artist. That's a scary place again. We wanted this security of a flash meter. We want the security of TT l'm eatery or whatever it is now. Titi l'm eatery e t T l'm Eatery Q t t d. Whatever may be too much for me to remember, but whenever you you ever hear someone talk about TT l'm eatery, they tell you? Well, okay, here's what you set normal, but then you get determined. Oh, hey, I don't want that much lighter. I can put more light. So you overpower the T T l right? You say give me less light. Give me more light. Now there's a place for T t l battery. But I'm just saying, even with the t t l meter, and you have to make it to create a decision some point. Do you like it? Are you doing? I like it. So that's the beauty of being an artist. Did you say I like it? By golly, it fits me. And then you go with it. Someone else says I don't like that. Okay, that's the beauty of being an artist. Because we all like the same thing. So I have a saying to you, and this is kind of a joke. It's a joke. That is it possible for me to make a joke? But a sandbag has 1000 more uses in a flash meter. Every day I do is photo shoot. I use a sandbag. A couple of them I haven't touched a flash meter in 25 years. So I value a sandbag. It's important to me, but and I make a joke of that right? But the point is, is and I've had people get really mad at me when I have done this really mad because they were taught with the flash meter or they teach with flash meter and they put a lot of, uh, guess emphasis in a flash meter. And there's nothing wrong with that, except that in the end you're going to have to make a creative decision. So why don't just start out with making a creative decision? That's what I say. So I go, Oh, wow, I'm like, four stops over. Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick! Dick! Dick! Next next frame. Okay, I'm getting closer. You'll find two. I'm there. I could probably move in just my lights faster with the monitor than you can with a flash meter. Many for me. Now there's Sometimes you might want to say, I want that background to be a certain value, and you put a flash meter spot on it or something. Do something so I don't want to say, Hey, don't ever use the flash meter. However, you can't make a picture without a creative decision that I can guarantee you. So we need to emphasize that we need to make sure that that's becomes on the forefront of our mind as we're making decisions. The human mind makes an evaluation based on what you the artist likes or dislikes. I pounded that end enough, right? Who is the most important person in the room? You the artist? Why, Dude, you're the one that's doing the creative process. And so even when there's an art director or somebody and you have to just instill in them that you are trying to go down a certain path, that hasn't in result that fits what? Hopefully they hired you for, um And so, um, don't be afraid to stick with your guns. Don't be afraid to say I'm gonna hang my hat on this and take the slack for it. It's a hard thing to d'oh goes back to being criticized. You're weak, fragile and secure, right, So am I. But I don't camp out there. I know. I've been confident in building all this stuff that I'm an artist. I haven't intuition. I'm gonna build in that direction until I get what I really want. And then I think good things follow. Um, when it comes to set it up my lights. How do I know they're right? Intuition When they feel right now, have you ever have you ever, um, looked at an artist? Is someone who kind of blows with the wind. It's like all over the place, right? One's blowing their they're going. That's true as artists. Sometimes we get a little bit, you know, we just kind of go right. And so an engineer minded person a little more rigid. Let him work, you know, and then looks like my wife and I we crack up because we'll be sitting on a couch. Doo doo doo doo. Okay, I'll say, Hey, let's go ski or whatever And she like when? Right now where? Let's go here and we'll pack up and just do something. And there's some good to that because it's kind of fun. And there's a bad do that, too. It's like, Okay, now we got what we do with the dog we got. He arranged this rage that it's like all these things gotta D'oh! So you just can't pick up and leave. But being an artist sometimes has its benefits. Is that you can just kind of go with the flow of things and let things happen, not too rigid. And so that fits my personality, not more than being original person. And so I think there's a benefit, the kind of just let it go a little bit. Just let it happen and you'll watch while we did already. But a lot of my images. And I'll tell you when we look at images, you'll say That's a brilliant pose. Our brilliant idea. How did you come up with that? I go Well, you know, we're sitting there and I was changing a light out and the model moved and did this and I went, Stop, Let's do that again and I just take a picture. I didn't coaxed him. I didn't direct him. It just happened. I saw it and sometimes a model come in and say I got this idea. It's like, Yeah, whatever. Let's try it. And boom! Something good comes so as an artist who is free to kind of let things happen, I look like go on, go when it feels right athletic. I let it happen. Okay? All right. Let's go back to this when you're working from your intuition or from your uniqueness, this could be a frightening place because it opens the door to criticism. And so, um, we talked a little bit about this in marketing, but, um, at all cost, we avoid criticism. I mean, my my friend Eric James, we're at college together, study photography, and I really respected Carrick. Um, and we going photo trips together, we're shooting Monye Valley and different things. And then we'd have a light box and I'd show my best stuff to him. I'd say, Okay, I'm gonna get my film process. We come back, we'll meet and we'll shore. Best stuff. I remember one time. Carrick. He's like looking at my stuff. He says, Hey, you didn't watch your corner here. There's a little piece of, um, grass or something. The stick was coming in the corner. It was eye catching thing. And I'm like, like, and like criticizing my work. And then next picture. Yeah, this is great. Except you got a little something coming over here. You're not watching your corners. He kept saying, I'm not watching my corners. Now let's get a little upset. You know? It's like, you know, And that's what I've been doing for 30 years. Watching my corners, right? You wouldn't want to. Kurt Take. Sometimes it's good to have a little critiquing. We need it, butthole. We hate it. We just hate that. You're telling me I'm doing something wrong? Um, because that's you are humanists, our humanity. We hate being critiqued, but if we pour everything into it and there's someone you know, it's like our baby and some critics it Whoa, Do we come undone? Well, I just wanted to hear from these guys. About what? How do you feel about this topic? How you feel about this sentence that's up on this? Yeah. I totally recognize in the how fragile you're in front of critics. Ah, everybody loves to hear how good a picture on. So I usually show them to, uh, to Monica or my mom. I know they would like it. Monica is more more of a criticize my mom. She's perfect. She just say the right word and I and make me grow like it was like this. But other photograph furs, they tend to to be too kind. I think so, Yeah. Everybody wants to please each other. I think a in created This is a good thing. If it's done by the right heart. Sure. Yeah. If you have someone you trust, that's good. But even then it hurt. Member told my friend Carrick it hurt even then, Right? But guess what? It was a good thing because I learned I grew from it. E think it's in two ways. You need to learn to get criticized, and you need to learn how to create the size as well. So if you could like fine partners to do that with, you will get a trusted that it wouldn't hurt that much We like. Get your crazy Criticise yourself right. Here's where criticism could be bad when it de rails you when it gives you, um, they put you in a place where you want to quit, right? So that's where you have to be really careful that you don't get to a point where it derails you. So here's what happens. I'm going down a path and someone says, 00 Joe, wait, You're that's not doing something right. You gotta You gotta change your thing. And that's not right. Oh, yeah. Okay, go this way. Okay. Someone else comes along, and then pretty soon, you're way over here, and you should be over here, right this path. So don't let criticism derail you from your path of vision that you have. You ever find yourself criticizing yourself? Do you ever get in a kind of, I guess, Funk, Where over a certain period, it's like nothing I'm doing is is what I want. And how do you kind of break out of your own criticism? Maybe. Yeah, I think it away where Our worst critics. But I think what happens is is maybe we're trying to second guess what other people are thinking. And that's what keeps us insecure, you know? So here here, let's go. Let's think of this. Remember, we talked about, you know, client situation. Let's think about like a judging competition. So So you're a member of P. P. A. Or some association? Or there's a There's a jury, you know, situation when you send your pictures down. And this girl came up to me after one of my talks like this. She kept saying, No, thank you. I was ready to grip photography because I just submitted some stuff to a jury. You know, competition. And I didn't get a merit of recognition, much less winning something just even a merit of recognition. And I said to her, I said, Now number one, the LA Times they don't know who the judges are. And so the judges can really have a big influence how the outcome of you know what becomes the best or whatever. And so it could be that I told her it could be that you are so way had a year time that your work is just not be recognised. It could be it could be. Your work is really bad. I didn't know who she was or what her work was. But the point is, is is that if she was ready to quit based on the rejection of that juried event, that's it dangerous. So be careful that your not so fragile that just that one event or that one criticism derails you. And so, um, but it could be a positive thing to now for me. I'm kind of a fighter, right. I'm like, Okay, next time, get him and I remember when I was in the first class, I had a professor named Lou Bernal, and he was an amazing human being. Hey was just rounded technician and artists and amazing Teacher. And unfortunately, he got killed in an accident years of number, years after I left, it was at Pima Community College and started. But, um but hey, really instilled into me a passion for the craft. I mean, he was really influential in my life. And so the very first semester I worked my butt off, I gotta be. Well, okay, so next semester, he said. And in 10 final prints I handed in 10 the 1st 1st semester, and so the next semester I want today. So I handed in, said As for 10 I gave 20. He gave me a B. I was like, Okay, third semester, advanced class. I handed in 40 prints. I gotta be I was furious and I went in, and I think he could see it on my face. I said, I think I deserve the name. He said, Well, you actually did. But I'm going to give you be why he goes. Because in the real world, it ain't easy. I want you to fight. I want you to be a fighter and and in the way I think that was true. He saw I had a passion for what I love But he didn't want to make it easy for me. And here I am today still a fighter. So you gotta fight for your what you're doing. So if you're hard on yourself, nothing's wrong with that. But don't let it get scourge you. There's that fine line. Don't go say I'm done. I can't do it. You can get up rework it. And it could be that you're just maybe there's a lighting technique or something that will help shape what you want. So go and learn that, um and it could be And I hate to say this. Oh, my God. I'm gonna say this. It could be that you get a new lens, Judah. 1 51 4 Maybe that's it. Shallow depth of field all said, boom. You get this look you love and you build a body. Work on it. Don't let a piece of equipment be end all to your look. But I'm just saying, it could be that maybe there's something blocking you or it could be a trip. Maybe you say Okay, I'm just gonna, you know, go and do a trip somewhere, and all of a sudden boom and all come together. I was at Lake Tahoe is last summer, and it was like a gold mine for me. Boulders it with water all around it. And I was doing long exposure. The storm was coming in, and like about every 30 minutes and pouring rain I've had in Iraq and then get out and start shooting again. And it was just like all this energy, and I would just like in heaven inspired me. It's like I want to do it again. So it could be that it could be that you just did a little punch in the right direction. So don't be too hard on yourself, But we are worst critics. I hope you know that. And that's what shapes us. But, um, but trust somebody. So So, Joel, Um, I'm a graphic designer. Art director. I do photography. In my early days as an art director, I used to have people critiquing my work, and I go home with tears in my eyes. and I. After many years, I kind of learned to sort of step away and back off from that emotional attachment falling in love with my work a little bit. How do you What's the best way to walk that line? How I don't go too far, right? Cause then that passion sort of you lose that passion. How do you What's the best way to walk that line? Well, we know what we talked about the marketing yesterday. We mentioned that once I understand my humanity, which is weak, fragile and secure. I know that if I get in a situation where someone critics me and it hurts Oh, I'm gonna break down and I break down and I go. Man, that hurt. But guess what? Out of the camp there. That's what I kept saying. You don't have to camp there. Lived there and you move on. You know what? Okay, move on. And we might say, You know what? There are people, and this is an interesting thing because there's this power and I know you're weak, frazzled, secure, right. You come in to me and I said, you suck because I know you were weak fashion secure, you go away crying. What power? People do that all the time, right? Maybe not so much consciously, but yet they're bullies. They're bullies, right? Or they'll just They just want to know Because they have the power over you to say If I make a little creaky here, you're gonna go really get hurt. And so, um, but you might want to say in that situation, you know, I'm not gonna buy into that, You know, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna go often. You know, try to find a tall bridge and jump. It's not that it's not. I'm not gonna, you know, let it sink in. But you can't say I'm not weak, fragile, secure. I'm tough cause you're not. You're weak. Fragile is insecure. That's just who we are. Some let's hide it better and others. But But don't be afraid to say, you know what, That it hurt. And I can now move on and just say and I always say, I'm selling country Western. That person's looking for rap, and that helps me move on from that position that, you know, I don't let it get really deep inside. Right? How How do you sort the good cretin criticism from the bad with the branch sticking out of the corner. That kind of a good criticism. But how do you sort the bad ones from the good wounds? All right. Okay, so let's talk about this If I have in the old days when we used to make a dark room print and we used at the spot our prints and that was actually a little bit of an art because if you spotted too much, it left a mark and you can see I spotted right? And so if you show me a print and I say, Oh, you missed a couple spots, okay, I didn't see those or you will you over spotted here. That's that's like, Looks like it's a big, old lot of, you know, spot toner. So now in in, um, photograph, let's say and people do this to know they say what you think of this photograph and I mean, look, I say what's drawing my eye? I said, Guess what? Your horizon lines going right through the eyes. That's a no no. For me, right? Or horizon line goes just under a little bit of the Ted here, right? So it's like you want either the person to be above it or below it somewhere, which not with the eyes, but like that horizon lines are really hard. One to get right. You're you're sitting there going. Okay, well, you know, or there's a tree growing out of the pole or whatever. And so I've been doing this for 30 years. I look at a photograph. Boom. It is pull growing on someone's head Now that maybe that's what you wanted. But I'm saying is there are certain things that you say, Technically. Okay, You know what? There's some things here. But if I start to tell you you're off track when it comes to your overall vision as an artist, then I think I've entered into the wrong territory. Does that make sense? Yeah. So that's where you hold true to your guns. And if you want you look at that image right there of, uh, Lauren. It defies a lot of technical rules. Now, my goal and that was to make the back of her skin just barely be a little bit darker than the background. That was my goal. I want to push the envelope of that hole seem so that she's blending that yet barely there. There's not a lot of mid tones in that shot. And so we're gonna talk about that in a minute. But the fact is, is that's my vision. Now you come along, Say, Joel, you're overexposed. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. That's my vision. I'm gonna stick to it. It's not like when you have an out of focus picture, someone says, Hey, it's out of focus. You Well, I meant that. No, I set out to do that. That's my vision. Guess what? A lot of people want to know how to do that now. So I know I'm on the right track and maybe they run out of focus. I saw Oh, aye, picture of, uh, someone did with an IPhone. It was a girl that was doing a Siri's. She put one of those little macro lenses on her IPhone. She was shooting people on a white sweep and that you take a picture and just be like a stick figure of someone, and you could see colors and stuff. But she was out of focus he was cool shot. So on purpose, she went out of focus, right? And made it a look. So there's certain things you can do to break rules, but yeah, there are some technical things that right away someone who's seasoned and photography could say Here you're wrong here. You've got some problems here. You might want to think about this, but when it comes to an overall vision, be really careful. I just wanted to add a story. You know, a lot of your insecurities. And as far as critiquing has to do with timing, A friend of mine, John Gringo, who was a teacher here on Creativelive, talks about the the path of a photographer And how when you first start out, you think you're so good. And if anyone were to critique you, then you would be so offended. But then, as you learn more about photography, you're like, Oh, I'm terrible. And then that would be that would be the perfect time for critiquing. And then after you keep doing the art, then you think you're great again, and then you think you're terrible. So it also depends on at what point in your in your artistry or your career that you do look for that critique, too. And a lot of times it happens when I would say that, let's say I did a job for a client and it went bad. Never has happened. But okay, let's say I did. And your self esteem gets kind of beat up, you know? Then you feel a little less secure. Next time you could do a job. And so we do go in, fluctuate up and down, you know? And so you know, we're riding high next, you know, a week later, riding low, you know, and that's just being human Begin. So don't be afraid. Two. Start bawling run into the closet and curl into a fetal position. It might happen, but you don't have to live there. That's the good news. Um, I had this next slide here says, being swayed by the opinions of others of certain death to the artistic process. So there's where I say I draw the line. You have an artistic process that you're driving toward. Be careful not to be derail from that. And so that's what I say. Um yeah, again making the distinction between good criticism and someone that derails you, and the chances are Okay, so Robin's doing a series of babies and I come along and save. Maybe she asked my opinion, and I go off on this whole thing and I mean, it's like she's think what? That's not exactly what I want to do because I'm a pull in my opinion into and why? Because I like what I like in your face cropped portrait. Well, I tell I tell Robin to do that to her baby's. Maybe not. But you know what I'm saying? And she's like, No, So don't let me sway you from your creative process. Let me encourage you. So another good thing about a critique, a good, good critique, er is when you walk away, you're encouraged. I should be encouraged. All right, So I talked about this thing. You put your neck on a chopping block, someone's gonna take a swing. So here's the thing you have Ah, exhibit gallery opening. Someone's gonna make a right up on that. Guess what the odds are. Someone's gonna take a whack at you, right? What happens is most people never will take the risk to put their work in a gallery because they're afraid of someone taking the whack. I've had a one thing gallery show, and, uh and, um, there was the one picture than almost everybody, like most of all. And they expressed that to so then is kind of fun to hear. But the problem is that what I'm thinking is what's wrong with the other ones? So that's kind of Ah, closed critic as well. That's that's a problem. So you second guess yourself. Yeah. Yeah. What did I do wrong here? Um, but just remember, the real world we talked about in the marketing you go out and knock on a door, it's 100% guaranteed. You're gonna be rejected, not 98%. It's 100% guarantee you're gonna be rejected. And, um so you say that's a brutal world. In a way, it kind of is. But really, it's not because if you have the true understanding of how the world works, you don't have to give in to it. So someone takes a whack at your gallery show whatever you say. Guess what? It's their opinion. So let's take a look at this. No artist is loved by everyone. So I say this, um and I have a group of maybe 100 or 1000 people, whatever in front of me. And I say, How many people know the artist? The singer songwriter Ray Lamontagne couple. Usually I love Ray Lamontagne is music raspy voiced singer songwriter. That's my I mean, I'm in heaven right there, right? And so how many in here? No, the singer. I'm not gonna say songwriter, cause I don't know Britney Spears. Yeah, Everybody raise your hand, right? Do you know I've never heard and listen to Britney Spears start to finish one song ever. I've never been exposed that much. I mean, I see on the news and she's doing they play a little clip, but I've never actually heard one of her songs. I know who she is, Raylan Maintain I love hardly anybody knows. Well, that means he's not popular. But I could tell you what rate Ray Lamontagne knows who he is, and he's doing exactly what he loves. And he's making a living. He may not be a rock pop star in the news every every, you know, week, but I love his work. He's found a someone who loves him on audience. He's got an audience. I'll guarantee you. You build the bodywork, do well. You'll find audience may not be the masses. You'll find an audience. And if you do well, we talked about our marketing stuff. You make a good living. You look at my look. My work, my look, my the Joel grounds. Look didn't get everybody. Actually, it's a very small segment. I could make a living at it. I'm not trying to go and do everything and make you be available for every job. I have a certain look I wanna d'oh! So I build it and I find the audience for it. So don't be afraid to stick with it and in the audience will come. It's a wild thing, you know. It's just a crazy thing. In fact, I'll bet you this that when you become so focused on your your vision and your goal and bill the bodywork that separates you from the masses and people take notice that you go a lot further than when you just try to do everything so. But it's that risk, the risk to be loved. We wanna be loved by everyone But they can't be. It can't be. And so right now, Um, a lot of times my wife will read a criticism. Someone's going after me, and she's like, uh and I say, Don't camp out there. Don't let it bother you. And she's like, Why doesn't it bother you? I go because a no artist is loved by everyone. So these are things that I've come up with and I've had to learn. Is Joel Grimes invincible? No. Do you ever get kind of bummed on occasion? You know, I might, you know, here's something I get a little bummed, but in the end, I really having a quicker way of bouncing back then maybe say even 10 years ago, because I recognize myself. I'm weak, fragile, secure person who doesn't have to camp there. And nobody's gonna love everything. Ideo I just keep cranking out. Just keep cranking it out. And, uh, but doesn't mean I'm invincible

Ratings and Reviews


I loved the course, i laugh because Joel and I are kind of alike in General. Hey Joel if you like Ray's music you might like A guy by the name Amos Lee, Different than Ray but great song writer.

Kelley Hurwitz Ahr

One of the things that I love about Joel is that he has a great message along with great photography! I find him to be relatable, an expert in the field and quite motivating. Highly recommend any of his classes.


That was excellent. Loved the seminar and you hit on a lot of great points when it comes to defining yourself as someone who uses photographic equipment as a tool to be creative.

Student Work