Inspiration & the Daily Artistic Grind
I do a monthly newsletter in which I keep my people updated on all the latest and greatest in Lauren Bee Land (and if you're not yet signed up for it, scroll down and get on it). In last month's installment, I asked to hear from folks who might have a few questions for me -- and hear from you I did! Today, I answer one of those questions, from Hannah in Tennessee:
"Where do you get your inspiration for your photos? How do you get that image that you want in your mind?"
This is actually a super important question because the answer defines me, defines my work, and defines how what I do is so different from what other photographers do.
I get my inspiration from my clients, from their experiences, from their stories that want to be told.
I also get inspiration from my childhood, from my still-writhing imagination, from every fantastical movie I've ever seen, from every book I've ever read, from every song that has moved me to tears (or to dancing).
And I snatch inspiration from the very magic that thrums in the air all around us. I'm a firm (FIRM!) believer in that magic, from a drop of rain water still drip-clinging to the tip of an unfurling fern, to the every day miracle of laughter. Call it reality, call it life, but I know it's magic, and it's all around us.
Arriving at inspiration for my artwork means remaining open to it all. For me, before any work of visual art can take shape, the past, the present, the tangible and intangible, the joyous places and the hard-edged places -- it all has to mingle and mix, pounding in my heart, before it can ever become that inspired something pulsing between my ears.
That's the super flighty, artsy-tartsy answer. Now, how about a more practical answer too?
Inspiration comes by making space for it. As an introvert, I find the simple act of clearing my mind and withdrawing to a place of solitude are the two ingredients most needed for assimilating elements that aren't yet elements but are merely fleeting concepts -- and that takes planning, crafting, and self-care. Day in and day out. Faithfully. Intentionally.
So how does my average Artist's Work Day look?
I won't lie: it starts with coffee.
And a good breakfast -- which, for me, is almost always a simple plate of eggs (fried, boiled, or scrambled -- with cheese if I'm feeling super special).
And after I've had my coffee and filled my belly, I turn to my schedule. Mondays are planning days, in which I plot out every practical and important activity that needs doing over the course of the upcoming week (from culling and editing photos to scouting potential session locations and plotting client wardrobe enhancements).
But Tuesday through Saturday, I spend post-breakfast time making sure I have a solid understanding of all that needs doing that day -- whether it's blogging (like today!), or catching up on social media, or making time for a walk.
And that's when life starts to get really interesting.
Heading outside for a good walk is always a wonderful place to start any creative undertaking. Taking my camera along with me makes it even more nourishing, because then I truly slow down and see things I wouldn't have noticed otherwise.
And this is where the true inspiration occurs, where all of those little bits and pieces of my past, a client's story, random feelings, empathic impulses, all of it begins to simmer and stew.
I'm a lover of stories, so my brain simply makes connections.
I might see a gorgeous red flower blossom, the color of which reminds me of a dress I wore when I was nine, at a family picnic where I also vividly remember spotting an ant crawling along the cuff of my left sock, which at the time fascinated me, by the thought of where that ant came from, how long it had traveled, and why it thought crawling along the cuff of my sock was a grand idea, which connects to a story my client shared about traveling cross country to see the Grand Canyon, what that journey meant for her (having just lost her father to cancer, working through that grief and feeling small against the power of that fresh, hard reality), and wouldn't it be amazing to photograph her in a flowing red dress, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, wind blowing her dark brown hair, her form tiny yet unyielding in a world of wild beauty, the grandeur of carved rock, sand, and stone amid eons of time, the largeness of being wholly human, grief and gorgeousness and all -- and also with sparkles.
The final image will absolutely need sparkles.
Because magic, as I said.
That's pretty much how it works. Time and space and sparkles ... that's how my visual work begins to take shape.
But that's just the birth of an image. The physical creation process is entirely separate from its pure inspiration.
And that's a whole other blog post -- and a whole other question asked by one of you fine reader folks, which I'll answer another day
Until then, want to stay up-to-date on all the Lauren Bee goings on? Perhaps you'd like to ask a question of your own, like --
"Lauren, do you ever wish you were a painter instead of a photographer?"
"Lauren, do you ever eat your morning eggs omelette style?"
"Lauren, have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?"
Truly, no question is off-limits.
You should totally sign up for the newsletter -- and to make it even sweeter, it comes with a yummy discount on your next session with yours truly. So what are you waiting for?