I enjoyed some serious creative playtime in the garden yesterday morning. I picked a bucket of blooms and I drug out my old friend (my rickety, chippy, old white chair which isn’t even all that white anymore) for a little photoshoot in the backyard. And today I thought it might be interesting* to share my creative process with a behind-the-scenes look at how I set up my shots along with some commentary about my photographic decisions along the way.
*I realize that these kinds of post aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so if it’s not your thing, the cliff’s notes version is that I spent about 20 minutes and took about 50 pictures and in the end there were three that I really liked. The End.
My original idea was to set the bucket on the chair in front of my flowerbed, the thought being that the daisies and black-eyed susans would create some pretty bokeh in the background of my shot. The challenge was that the direct morning sunlight was streaming in over the fence, and the spot I had envisioned for setting up my shot was way too bright. I could tell I wasn’t going to like it before I even picked up my camera, so I didn’t take a photo.
I moved the chair to the back of flowerbed in the shade – the flowers were still in the background, but they were also a little too bright, plus I didn’t like the tree trunk running down the middle of the photo. And because I was literally backed into a corner, I couldn’t pull back enough to include the chair in the shot.
I probably could have fussed over this Photoshop, but since I wasn’t super crazy about the shot in general, I decided to try something different.
I moved the chair out into the yard under the shade of the tree where the light was softer, but in order to properly expose for the flowers in the bucket, it caused the flowers in the background to be completely blown out.
So I fussed around some more with the angle of the chair and moving myself around to change the background, but in the end, I just wasn’t ‘feeling it’ (so to speak).
Next I decided to change the way the chair was facing thinking that might make a difference.
I also tinkered with flowers in the bucket to put the showy, pink zinnia in the front to make a stronger focal point.
I liked these last two a little better and decided it was time to move on. Then, as I stood up and looked down, I just loved the mix of colors and textures in the bucket. So I took a few shots from that vantage point.
I played around with different compositions – changing my focal point, moving in closer, pulling back a little.
Once again I tinkered with the flowers and made the other big pink zinnia my focal point. After I clicked the shutter and saw the preview on the back of my camera, I said to myself, “Yep, this is the one. This is the one that best tells the story of picking these flowers this morning.”
Here is the final shot after doing a little post-processing in Lightroom.
Afterwards, I went over to the back porch and spent a few minutes arranging the blooms into a vase. As I was heading inside to set my arrangement on the kitchen table, I noticed a thin veil of clouds had moved in over the yard, diffusing the light on the flowerbed a bit. So I thought to myself, “I wonder how it would now with the softer light?”
The light was much better on the background so I played around a little more with this setup.
I moved the chair again to face the left side, and like I did previously, I moved my body around and experimented with several different compositions.
I really liked all of these and felt like this series was closer to my original idea for the photo. In the end, I liked the composition of this shot the best.
I took another shot looking down at the blooms and loved it as well.
I love that even though these weren’t exactly the images I had in my mind’s eye to start with, they still capture the story and the feeling I had in my heart. Which is all I really wanted in the end.
Some Closing Thoughts
The reason I am sharing this with you today is because in the past, I struggled with this preconceived notion that everyone else is better at visualizing and executing their creative ideas. But more often than not, I have found the creative process to be a lot of fussing and tinkering and a lot of trial and error. When I don’t get too caught up in a rigid idea of how the end result “should” turn out, when I don’t take the whole thing so dang seriously, I usually end up with a creative solution that turns out better than I had envisioned. Plus I enjoy the process so much more.
And in case someone hasn’t told you lately, photography is supposed to be fun.
My hope in sharing my process is that it encourages you to trust your own creative process. It’s totally normal for something not to turn out exactly the way you might have envisioned it. So be open to letting your ideas evolve and I promise that you will have way more fun in the process.