Are you familiar with the feeling to lose the passion you once had for the love you thought you were always going to have? I (have) had this with photography. Once an outlet for my own creativity and expression, being a professional, a people pleaser and no guard of boundaries led me down that path. I was bored with the work, lost all sense of purpose for people that did not value my work. Heck, because I did not value it anymore.
If you feel you are down a similar path, I can highly recommend doing "prompt work". I started with a weekly accountability buddy to create or show up with work. And nothing hard, we just got a 52 week challenge sheet with the basics of technical photography and started. In the beginning I just dug into my archive, re-edited it and presented that. But, one week, when my buddy did the same, I felt I was selling myself short and the following week, I went out and shot a new concept. Meanwhile, another group formed where they also suggested to do a weekly prompt and when I can, I merge the two. You can call it lazy, I call it an extra layer of creativity. You can follow along on this page of my progress and I will add as much as I can that could be of value. If you have a question, or some, I will be happy to answer them.
I am adding the new ones on top, so if you want to follow chronologically, start at the bottom of the page.
Prompt: Negative Space
In all honesty, I made this image ten minutes before deadline and is probably the first image in this series that I shot with my iPhone. Nevertheless I am quite happy with the result. Again, I had to just trust my technical skills and my eye that it would all work out. Inspiration is really everywhere and I find the prompting work hugely rewarding for my focus. I edited the image in Snapseed, a free editing app I highly recommend. I have added the original image to see where I came from.
We are adding some prompts that invite us to be more playful. So what can you do with butter? Apparently, a whole movie was made about Butter with a lot of A-listers and I got my inspiration from there to create this image with Midjourney. Yes, I am dabbling with AI. The first one is what Midjourney gave me and then I took it into Photoshop to clean it up and add some lighting and colouring.
PROMPT: Foreground I Connection
As I pair up these two prompts, I really do wonder how and what a dog sees through its sense of smell. It is an amazing feature that probably can travel back in time and see who walked by last week. The amount of information a dog captures all the time, but is able to remain mindful and balanced is really inspiring.
Feminimity is a loaded topic for me. I was not sure how to handle this assignment. Should i do a selfportrait and how should I go about it? Eventually I chickened out and went for a painterly composition of flowers. As flowers are rarely a subject in my arsenal, I found it a good exercise to represent feminimity, as they are layered, come in all shapes, sizes and colours and just shine bright. Even these fake ones.
The image i made last week created some creative block again. Getting out of my own way is my key assignment right now. Residing back to less is more and keeping it simple, I rely on what I already know to create this image and not dive into an abyss of procrastination driven learning.
With a background in journalism and marketing, there is a lot to talk about concerning framing. When you master the art of framing, you master the narrative, what people see and even how they feel. I went in a quite personal direction with this one. In the first step I photographed the glass of wine like a commercial photographer would to promote the drink. A sentiment of joy, relaxation, the good life.
But, in a second step, I added a little teddy bear (my real first fluff) and it changes the whole dynamic of the image. When you mix alcohol with children, the story usually is not that ok. I have still some stuff I have to deal with here and it was in one way exhausting creating this image, but in another also a little release. I would call this creative therapy.
For this prompt, as well as part of the whole, I went to the beach to lock in on an image that would look like or symbolize the assignment. For refresh, I found it in this composition. I can see a person, even myself, or an animal climb up that dune, look at the waves, take a deep breath and sigh forward.
PROMPT: PART OF THE WHOLE
For this prompt I went to the beach of Zeebrugge and looked for something to catch my eye that could fit the assignment. And voila, quite literal part of the whole appeared with this bench being covered in the sand.
Prompt: Panorama i guide
I was watching Secret of the Whales on National Geographic/Disney+ (nature documentaries always make me cry) and with the prompts in my head, I came up with the idea to create an ocean view panorama with the animals in the water, being a guide into their realm. I was clear I needed to composite this image to make a panorama, first wanting to take a turtle, a pufferfish and a dolphin to be different kind of guides. But I came back from that complicated idea and decided an all dolphin view would be quite impressive as well.
I used seven images. The wild dolphins were photographed in Egypt, near Marsa Alam with a Sony RX100. As they are wild animals, as a diver, we respect this by just observing. They are not pets.
Prompt: Depth of field I Portal
For the prompts depth of field and portal, I came up with this idea.
For the longest time I have been afraid of storyboarding my ideas and plans because I did not allow myself to deviate from what I set out to do.
Thanks to some fellow artists, I now have found the courage and ability to ideate and plan a work without falling into traps of procrastination, perfection and thus fear of failure.
The work of storyboarding has already proven to level up my game, so I am very motivated to extrapolate to more of my work and activities.
Prompt: Blue/golden hour I transition
Do you know the difference between blue hour and golden hour? I found a clear explanation when doing research for this prompt. In the morning, you first have blue hour, before the sun rises, and then golden hour, when the sun is showing up. At the end of the day, golden hour comes first and transitions into blue hour.
Living in the flatlands of Wingene, I get treated to a lot of beautiful lighting, at least the days when it is not cloudy. So on a freezing morning I went out in my front yard and shot this pluck of flower, with the tree vaguely in the background as my input to the prompt transition. It's a word that I resonate with, as I believe we are always changing and it is our challenge to hold our balance while moving.
Prompt: Sunset I Dirty Layout
If you pay close attention, or if you live somewhere where you can observe the day to day weather and skies, you probably also believe that no sunset is the same. Every evening a new variation of light and perhaps clouds builds a new sky painting. I can see a dirty layout in this, because the definition of layout is "the way in which the parts of something are arranged" and the dark clouds feel like smudges on the image.
Prompt: Sunrise I Searching
This image was shot on a Wednesday around 11:00. As you can see, it was very cloudy, so no beautiful sunrises this week to capture. But then I reasoned that the sun is rising until noon and starts setting in the afternoon. So instead of focusing on the literal sunrise aka golden hour time, I broadened the scope of the meaning and shot a sunrise just before noon. Quite literally and symbolically, I was searching for that sunrise.
The first prompt in the new group was forgiveness. It is a practice that has brought me a lot of calm and peace and I wanted to visualise how I do that. It is a work in progress and something I do regularly, but perhaps could benefit from to doing more frequently. How it works is to write down the sentence I forgive you *name* and repeat this with the same name or different people. I feel a lot is going on in my mind and body when doing this, even resistance. It's hard work, but it works.
For this week I challenged myself again also to create more than one image. There is value in creating more than one, even if you end up with only one. It was freezing for a whole week again after it just rained, so the whole pasture froze over. That gave some interesting textures in the ice. It also made me wonder about our relationship with water. After the dry spell last summer, everything was wet again, but not evenly. Living this close to nature, really made me more aware of our relationship with it and how we take so much for granted.
Prompt: Leading lines
The thing with having these basic prompts, is that you want to be smart. The obvious image of a building with leading lines was too easy for me. But what kind of leading lines are there? And then I noticed my plastic IKEA plant (FEJKA for the fans) and set up lighting to shoot an interesting image.
Prompt: Fill the frame
I normally like giving space to my subjects, so this prompt was quite out of my comfort zone. But I thought to make it as fun as possible and put some baby powder on my face, because why not? And have kitty Nootka fill in the other side of the frame. There are better ways, I am sure.
Prompt: Foreground, midground, background
This is the first week I pivoted from searching my archives to creating something new. This must be the first image in quite a while I created for myself with excitement. I got the advice to create from a place of joy, but that still works blocking to me. There is just so much there that is not joy, although I am full of hope. But I am scarred, like many. I choose to show them. How this image relates to the prompt though, is I am in the foreground, the background well, in the background, and that the layer of texture, that is creating the scarring on my face is the midground. It is where it all goes down. Pretty proud of this step still, huge unblocking happened here. Here I felt the benefit of the prompt for the first time because now, I was actually creating.
Prompt: Rule of thirds
Second week of prompt and I gathered different images where I thought about rule of thirds. There is a first breakthrough here, as my accountability buddy points out that she feels a big difference between the waves and Milan. In Milan she feels a distance, as with the water she feels the proximity and the emotions. I thought about that for a bit and realised I photographed those waves because I felt intrinsically that I should. In Milan it probably was practice.
Prompt: Horizontal line
The first prompt, horizontal line. Some photography from my environment in Wingene and probably because of an imposter syndrome, I took some Arabian horses into Photoshop and played with that. It does gave an interesting effect, so I do plan on researching this a bit more. How much can we take away and still see a horse? To be continued.
This is the start of the prompt page, if you follow along chronologically. Hope this can remind and inspire we all struggle and that showing up is the hard part. I can already see so much progress from week 1 to where I am now, I can strongly suggest it to everyone who is feeling stuck in their art.