Developing a Creative Vision in Portraiture

All images by Giulio Sciorio. Used with permission.

We live in time where technology has removed most technical barriers with photography. For the portrait photographer in particular, virtually any camera for sale today will give you what you need technically. When the majority of baseline technical tasks in an image are no longer a factor what remains is vision.

Vision is your unique signature on how you see the world. You already have that vision but you’ll need to develop it so that when others see your work they know it’s origin. Photographs with a unique vision speak for you when you’re not able to. They tell the viewer something about the subject in a way that only you can. As you build your vision, you’ll notice that others will hire you for that vision and if your vision is unique you have no competition.

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When assignments come your way, a unique vision will empower you to ask for the budget that your vision requires. Developing your vision takes effort, time and dedication to your craft. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Ready to commit?

One of the biggest problems with finding your vision is that you’re probably consuming too much garbage. This goes from the food you eat to what you drink but go deeper and consider the content you consume. Are you spending your time looking at garbage tabloid posts on socials or are you consuming fine photography from the worlds most renowned artists? Just like eating too much junk food will rot your body, consuming too much junk imagery will rot your vision. Follow only the best portrait photographers online and mix in some who, although are not that well known, inspire you on some level. You might not know why a particular artist’s work inspire you but that will come in time as your vision develops.

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As you begin to consume good work, begin to look for similarities. What is it about the work that you love? Try not to focus on the technical qualities like if the image is in focus or if it is an HDR portrait. Focusing on the technical will make you a technician. Putting your attention to the content within the image overtime will make you a good curator. How is the artist communicating emotion, shape and form? Best to print the images or find a way to write what you feel on them. Now that you’re curating good work look for similarities between them. Does any of your current body of work fit in? Add your images to it. Narrow this selection down to about 20 images. This is your vision coming into focus.

Now that you have a body of work based on your vision, your goal is to take action and book shoots. Base your shoots on the images in this new body of work that were not created by you. If you do this right you’ll be booking at least a dozen or so shoots. Do it right and  set aside a budget for each shoot. Add that budget together and you’ll have an idea of what it costs to make the work happen. Spend your money on your vision first.

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Once you begin to develop your vision repeat this process often. If you just do this once every few years you might end up creativity stuck like I did, which required drastic action, but that’s a story for another time. Curate daily, create often and you’ll be heading in the right direction. Just don’t expect it to be easy. If you find yourself inspired and motivated you’re headed in the right direction. If you think it’s easy you’re not being real with yourself.

This post is a teaser for an upcoming lighting tutorial video from the Phoblographer and Giulio Sciorio. Stay tuned!