Method in Madness of the Right Brain Photographer
In this section will be seeing some of natalie's work and there will be some slight nudity so that's just a disclaimer for those of you who may have your little kids running around at home while you're watching or in your office who knows all right oh you natalie thank you think again okay so so I've called this section method in madness on being a right brained photographer now it sounds a little bit old because you know, no one's really more right brained all that well some of us are more right brain symbolism or left brained everyone obviously has the whole brain of what has to make both of these things work in tandem with each other but I want to talk about this whole notion of right brained photography because it's something that struck me a while ago and it was a term I likes because it made me think about why I work in the way that I do it doesn't necessarily mean I worked on that one hundred percent of the time but a lot of my work is part of the bodywork I created a lot a lot ...
with this hole right brain tendency off not having this particular outcome I was aiming for what kind of going along with the journey a little bit and letting instinct on spontaneity play this role so when I say right brain I don't just mean the creative part of us everyone now we all want to create will want to be imaginative in the work that we create, but when I say right, I mean more like we really almost a blind to what where we're going with a particular piece of work or even in our lives in general and we're feeling our way rather than knowing our way so this I want to show you just a few pictures from my self portraiture beginnings andi want to show you particular examples that are very right brained so so this picture here I put like, the before and after just just so you know what I'm talking about when I talk about picture, this is a picture with my self portrait very whimsical self portrait that I created a number of years ago on dh do you know, in some of my work I had more of a plan? This is one of the pictures where I didn't really have any plan at all, so this is a very right brained picture. So the pictures when I was shooting them, I didn't really know I was doing I was just kind of playing around as I did in my environment of living I'm going to talk more about how lifestyle kind of influences your the photography or doing any stage in your life so this was during that stage when I was creating self portrait at home on the the result that I made from this was very much like an adventure in folk shop in terms ofthe just completely transforming it don't even mean I've got this kind of step by step of how I did actually on my block and it's called bending over backwards in folk shop, so I've just gone for the series of stages to make it completely different, and it was an adventure to do that and it's not something that I had a plan for when I created it. So that's just one example, here's another example, which is also a big kind of transformation in terms of what the image looked like to start with. I mean, what they must look like to start with is just me on the rocks off this pond that's in my garden and just I don't really know where is going with I was just trying to create some kind of image of myself in my garden on then when I was playing with the pictures and folk shop, trying to put together the best image I could and I wasn't sure where is going and then I ended up kind of raising the top half of my body because I've taken a blank shot I was able to fill in the the area where the top of my half top half of my body originally wass on, then I found myself making this completely weird thing in folk shop was just lots of legs come in looking like a plant so this is completely again another right brained image where there was definitely no planet all to create something like this and I was just taken over by the force if you like in the shooting and the processing so not just the processing I mean obviously you've got a you've got to get the images you wanna work with to start with so the way you shoot them as well it's all part of that right brained instinct and this is another picture this's kind of subtle nude you mentioned at the beginning of the disclaimer this's part of a series of work that I was creating uh it's a self portrait so its continuation of my self portrait but it's amore is from just a few years back one of my later self portrait it's it's a lot the part of a different siri's is part of my oncologist cv so it's a lot more sober it's a lot more kind of almost a dystopian very different from the first picture I showed you there with the playing cards now the reason I've called this picture quite right brained I mean, obviously you have to have some intent to start off making any picture because you have to actually go out and make the pictures happen, but on this particular shoot I've gone out with matthew and we both wanted to shoot a nude of myself in the landscape because we were in the phase of doing that at the time on I was playing around no doing the picture's doing doing my part of the the process composing in the barren field what near where we live on matthew was taking pictures off the cars going from the fog a tail lights and doing his long exposures separately from the pictures of myself so when we went home I was playing around with all these pictures on dh just the pictures of myself and it was when we put them to get wet when I put them together the tail lights on myself after a good few hours of thinking that I didn't have anything from that shoot show ful I ended up with a self portrait that became probably one of my favourites all time favorites because of that right brain moment of putting the two together and seeing this whole kind of scene come to life in a way that we didn't see at least consciously when we were shooting it and this is another one also involving matthews input eso matthew and I had gone out in that same kind of phase as the last picture when we're going out into the landscape and doing pictures we saw this big pile of tyres and asked for permission to go in shooting this pile of tyres on we shot maybe about fifty forty fifty images of me on these ties and they're all really rubbish pictures but then this one picture stood out just just one this one I mean I've done some folk shop work to this so time to bring out the gravity weeds that you see in the pictures in the picture kind of exaggerated and added but the compositionally it was all like this in camera I just saw something really odd about it you know the way that we shot this was so right brain was so we didn't know what we're doing we're just going with the force going with the instinct on I just found it so much more interesting than any of the other pictures from the shoot and I found there was something about the shape and the weirdness of it that reminded me of some of my inspirations and fashion as well I can people dan's images in the way that he presents on women kind of tossed around in these competitions it reminded me of that so again kind of right brained outcome so these pictures are typical well typical as in the typical off the unexpected that has characterized a lot of my work especially in the beginning years when I was creating work just for myself not really for anyone but then doing things with it afterwards sharing online and then you know, making making sensibly afterwards in the form of books and exhibitions as well so this idea of control control it is important we talk a lot about control in photography in the photography world we talked about having control over lighting control over our making our intentions happen control over the model's pose pre visualizing what we want to do and control is very important especially when you do do it start doing commercial work you need to have some idea what you're doing so you can present it to the client will be looking later pitching and examples of doing that you need a plan we need a structure to make things work even if you are doing one of my hair brain self portrait you still need to go and have a plan to go out and shoot on to take such and such outfit like the tire image I just showed you you know I plan to wear these tight red dress I wasn't sure exactly I felt like it would go with the tires in some way, but I wasn't sure exactly how and I always thought that you know, this way that I was working on my self portrait was really unrealistic some kind of bad habit I had to grow out of in terms of not knowing what I was doing but this right brain nous has continued to be part of the way that work even in commercial contexts and I'm going to talk more about that as we go along so control is important because it makes things happen to start with, but even you rely too much on the plan and if you try to force perfection, your creativity khun droop and failed. So the best analogy I can give is off birth optimum creativity is like a birth it needs a planet needs for knowledge, but it needs time, no pressure on an unexplainable force of nature. So of course, um time and having no pressure these are things that we do have in client work naturally, because the client is waiting for us to do what we do and once I bust ultimately to deliver the goods as we have pre visualized to them, but but notice that I'm talking about optimum creativity, so I'm not necessarily saying that every client shoot you're ever going to do is going to allow for your optimum creativity because you have those constraints put upon you, which sometimes can actually bring out you know the best of you if you've got that deadline and you've got that situation where you've got to make it work. But when it comes to work, you don't create necessarily for someone or just thinking hypothetically about the spark of passionate knew that can lead to commercial work optimum creativity is best when you can kind of give yourself that that time to wait for the unexplainable force of nature to intervene so a good example is this picture here that you see storm door, which is one of the earliest pictures I created as part my surreal fashion syrian ease it was one of the first pictures where I even became inclined to merge a photo with a painting in this case, so I take in the photo off the woman standing by the door and I'd taken a photo of the painting I didn't take the photo with intention of doing anything with it I just liked the painting of the ship's on I just wanted to take a photo of it so it's very instinctive thing to do it wasn't something why knew what I was doing and then I found myself I'm putting one on top of the other in folk shop and finding this synergy between them that was really surprising to me and when I was talking earlier about the excitement that you get when you make something and you're not quite sure you know where it's gonna go when you get excitement you get in the moment the unexplainable force that's what I'm talking about that allowed for my optimum creativity with this particular picture which was not created for a client created from actually from the workshop this picture and in a stately home and so it was something I was free to play with myself on that allowed for the best to come out of me so I've talked about in that picture the right brain nous of the processing but also the way I shot it because obviously the way I shut it was fundamental to how I was then able to layer them together and but also when you're shooting there can be that you have right brain reaction to what you're shooting on a great example off that is the story off this model that I shot so when you observe the strengths of the model location in the styling so the more I got into shooting other models playing around with other contexts ahead of my self portraiture I was working more with models and location and styling so someone actually styled a model in a particular way and it's up to use a photographer to kind of interpret that now this was taken during my one of my fashion shoot experience event so it wasn't done for a particular client I'd never work with his model before the equivalent of the situation is like a test for somebody else. So when I was shooting this model I had no idea she had this domestic background this dance silly dance early background and so I would just turned off my camera and I had half a now to shoot with her during this particular slot on dh she just started jumping around and doing the splits and doing all these different things in the very conveniently placed things around her that really suited scene on the outfit she was wearing it all came together in his own instinct you away so instead off rigidly telling her how to pose and saying to go and stand over there and to do the typical model poses or whatever I just let her do what she did and it was up to me to kind of capture that so it was a moment where I was kind of out of control and it was a little bit weird but then I just carried on doing that and capturing the shapes that she was making because that was her strength onda also the story became to be how she was using her strengths in the environment around the bird cage for example and doing these amazing positions around the props but we were placed in so this gay flavor to the whole sequence of images that I made of her and I notice that you know, I was talking earlier about how I like to put everything into one frame but with her I knew instinctively that that wasn't the way because her strengths unfolded over a sequence of images that lent itself really well to a fashion layout. So because I say that this model I hadn't known before but because I knew her strengths I could call upon them for other chutes in the future where I knew she would work really well so yeah, like I say, this became a story in itself where she became the whole point of the story and I found that really exciting actually, you know, I look back at the shoot really fondly because these shoes don't happen very often a lot of the time is more a case of you directing the model on being largely in control of what you're doing, which for good or bad gives you something in the end that is, you know, in line with that intention, but with this story of linda, it was thiss adventure that I felt like I went, I went, I went on with it with her aunt was able to kind of make sense off afterwards and organize the pictures to make her strengths really come through by contrast on the same shoot the same day in the same place there's another model I was shooting on dh her qualities were very different, you know? She's got this doll like elegance. She was styled in a particular way, very different from the other model. So didn't you know she was going to be jumping around in a dress anyway, but her personality is very elegant and quiet and sober, and she was posing gracefully on the couch and by these props and doing these very gentle poses and this went really well with the whole look, her personality her strength that were coming through completely eso this maid for a different story that I submitted separately. So this model eleanor, we knew that we could call upon her when we wanted something similar in terms of how she came across to us, that same elegance that we used when we shot her thinking you're on half later for another shoot where we knew she would suit these very ornate head pieces from a shoot in a church. So how you choose from edit and present your pictures is just as important as how you shoot them is part of the process, it's part of a journey that might seem like a really obvious thing to say, and to some extent it is for people who are used to creating photography. But there are a lot of photographers out there that I mean, that kind of shoot, and then they don't really come back to their pictures and make something of it because the shoot was the end product in themselves, in itself, for them. But you may find yourself looking for a load of pictures after a shoot and wondering are feeling dismayed that you didn't quite get what you wanted, wondering you're making sense off what it is you wanted on dh, how to get the best of them. You know, this is a story of my life. I look through tons of pictures after a shoot, and I wonder, you know, I kind of think I don't have anything, and I feel like, you know, there's so much bombs in there. How'd I sort through? How do I get there? How'd I get what I really wanted from it? And the great thing is, like I was saying earlier, when you start to work on one thing and then you finish it and then you move on to the next, that could draw out surprising number of images from a shoot where you thought you didn't have anything but it's also important to be open minded about what's in your images because I get this, like I say, all the time with mine and it's important to allow yourself to make sense of them. So this picture I've gone screen here is a picture I created again on one of my fashion shoot experiences where I'd shot with for the models that day before shooting this model. This was the end of the day, I've been flagging all day, and I kind of perked up for this one final shoot on guy started shooting her in this bedroom. The wallpaper was made up of all these painted birds which I immediately liked because I heard I had already created quite a few surreal fashion images by this point so I knew that I would do something with the birds I didn't quite know what but I made sure I shot high resolution pictures off them with the ability to play with them later and then I started to play with them in folk shop when I got home on dh to move them around and let them fall into the place where they felt best so I didn't have a compositional storyboard I had a kind of inkling of where I'd go were put in the bird's somewhere around her but I let them fall into place and it was actually towards the end when I looked I realized that I'd made this shape between the model and the eager it I think it's called off the main bird that you see there sticking out to the right I made this shape between her and that bird that looked like it was really complete and that was done really subconsciously was done in a very right brain way it wasn't like I had a sketch that men I wanted to do it like that there's no harm you know having sketches fish you somewhat saying that that you there's no point doing that I work on jobs all the time where there are sketches their storyboards these give some idea as to what you want to create and these air important we'll be talking more about them later, but in these examples where I had no one to answer to and I want to this optimum creativity to flow, it was important to give it time. This is a heavy compass, it heavy, photoshopped compass it I'm going to be showing more of thes compass it's on how they're created and the stages of the decisions that I've made. One of the most important things when you're making a picture like this is time giving it time just to look at the image on look and look and look and keep looking until it's falls into place because looking is so important you can't rush something like this, you have to let it fall into place and not try and force in this case the birds into where I think they should go because I had to let them fall where the I felt comfortable inspiration exists, but it has to find you working quote from picasso. I really like this quote because the word inspiration comes to stand as the right brain creativity. You could say the right brain creativity comes to you, but it has to find you already busy with the left brain, so with the picture, I just showed you the migration season. I obviously had gone out and shot this model I shot the birds have sat down with him and playing with them, putting them together and then the spark of inspiration of how to make your work comes to me the inspiration is found me working I'm going to be thinking more about this word inspiration later in the workshop but this word here is comes to represent that spark but you get that suddenly makes you think a heart you know that eureka moment that fills you with joy that you have got some sense of where you're going because of the sense that you allowed yourself to trust but you don't know exactly what you're going up first efficiency. So through my time as a photographer I've noted thes right brained aspects of myself and wanted to improve the efficiency of my the way I work because being right brained not knowing what you're doing isn't you know, conducive to the best of commercial situations you want to have an idea of what you're doing and even for your own work as well. So you want to improve your efficiency as a photographer, you want to improve your lighting, you want to improve your planning skills, your communication skills, your database of locations just you want to become better how you actually get down to it, but efficiency doesn't guarantee your right brain artistic satisfaction I've written there so there's always gonna be that spark there's always going to be that little bit of not knowing how to make a picture be the most optimum creative result can be and I am and I'm telling you this I have to tell myself this is well because you know, when we work on commercial briefs and shoots and were planning these things and we have to be very clear about what we're going for, but I know that on the day when I do it, there will be these moments where I go with the force and I go if something that may not off premeditated, it may be that there's a burst of natural light for the window and and that comes this whole kind of new aspect of the narrative that still doesn't interrupt the way that we planned it but emphasizes it in a way that I couldn't have planned and I've seen shoots where that has happened to photographers they'd be shooting a model with flashing the corner for ages and then suddenly they shoot by the window and they get is really whimsical natural pictures that they use in the final thing I mean, I'm not saying it happens all the time, but it can happen, but those are the times when we might be able to get the best of what we can do so it's not necessarily about not knowing what you want it's about us not not getting what you want is about not knowing what you want necessarily to start with or what can make the best result. You can get so many of my images, I choose to work on something that draws me to that picture. So in this picture, if I just show you the picture, I mean, this is a little bit process, but it's, it is mostly what came out of camera cropped it a bit, and I've done a little bit adjustment to it, but compositionally and the quality of the light in this picture and the painting was already there in this shot on something drew me to it because it's very imposed, you know, it's not picture where she was posing for me, it's kind of between takes on one of my productions on dh, so I just like the qualities this picture was very natural, so I thought I'd work on it on dh make it into a surreal fashion complicit now it was very important for me to keep with a compass. It you know, the world is your oyster, which can be about things because you got so many possibilities of what you can put from one picture into another. But with this picture I wanted to keep it in line with a nautical things because this was shot in this house by the thames in london it's got this nautical theme going on it's like a ship wright's house there's a painting of the ship shit behind the model already as you saw and I have kind of emphasized and pulled bits out of other pictures that I shot off paintings of ships in that same location and put one in the mirror important on the piano and then I've got this painted see coming in and then I've also got these drops splatters of water on the lens that's been out even photoshopped to further enhance this whole serial notion. So the whole journey of considerations I made as to how to actually make that into a compass it but it comes from being drawn into the spontaneity of things that were in that natural shot to begin with, but I didn't direct that completely. This is an image of mind that, you know, maybe is a little bit odd in an imaginative fashion photography in terms of my current portfolio, but this picture is just bizarre because it's part of my cereal fashion siri's even though he doesn't have a model in it, it feels completely right to be there, but this story behind this image I mean this image is so right brain because I didn't well, I was going to say I didn't intend to put the draft there I shot I'm shooting in this room, I'll show you the pictures we're shooting this model in this room in in a chateau in near paris, mars doing a workshop a couple years back on dh I didn't even have much time to shoot in this room with literally minutes, so I shot this model and I'd also shot at the national history museum in paris a couple of days prior, so I did have an idea that I wanted to use his animal somewhere, possibly in my pictures, to complement the fashion situations portraiture to demonstrate my cereal fashion images to the people I was with at the time. And I did do quite a few other pictures from this context where I've got also pick animals from the museum, which you'll see some of them through the workshop. But when I put the giraffe on, I just slapped it on top of this picture and it just sit there instantly and it was such a great moment because I knew that there's no need for the model anymore, you know she became superfluous. Of course I had to get rid of her because I'm joking but stick the draft in there and it just works so much better than that then the model because it just became this completely different bizarre direction I mean, it ceases to be a fashion image in its most conventional sense is more part of a bizarre final juxtaposition. But this image is being quite popular, and it's got a lot of tension that I might not have got just with my purely fashion images. So that's the story in itself. But this is like a savory right brain picture where I went with excitement because I excitement to me, was more important than making the picture fit in with any particular convention of fashion. Not that it was entirely fashion based workshop. The models were dressed more in costume, so is more creative edge. So I was free to do what I liked and to play around and to get the optimum creative result, which I felt was the giraffe in the office.