Creative Freedom in the Moment

It’s easy as an artist to get a specific vision in your head and strive to execute that vision in exact detail. But we, as artists, have to leave enough room for creative freedom in the moment – otherwise things can look contrived, forced, unnatural, which I was forced to face recently.

So, a bit of background…a friend of mine does wonderful floral arrangements/bouquets and she had been wanting to do a shoot together for a while. It was finally going to happen!  When we were planning this shoot, I had a vision of a red, Georgia-clay dirt road, barefoot, country-meets-boho-chic-alternative-bridesmaid type thing (I have complicated visions sometimes). We were all set to go…and then, a tropical storm came through (after more than a year out of California, I’m still not used to having to plan photoshoots around the weather). I had prepped my mind so well for the shoot, and I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed.

When we arrived to the location we had chosen after the rain cleared (an abandoned gas station, which is always a fun shoot), there were log trucks parked in front of it and POOF my vision was gone.  But (isn’t it amazing how much hope is in those 3 little letters?)…

right next to the location was a field of tall daisies. Daisies always go with a boho vision. So we began to shoot.

And I began to tell my beautiful/stunning/gorgeous/lovely niece of a model what to do to get the shot I wanted in my head. I asked her to frolic. Let’s just say her idea of frolicking and mine are different. When I tried to explain what I needed for the picture, she said,

“But this is how I frolic!”  And it’s true…it is how she frolics…and it makes me smile because that’s her and her expression of joy and freedom.


And in that moment, the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off. My vision for the shoot had taken over so much of my mind that there was no room for her and, if I’m honest (which, let’s face it, I’m all about that honesty), there was no room for creative freedom in that moment – the freedom that comes when you just go with the moment and see where it leads and what it offers you.

Once I stopped forcing the idea/vision, I feel like we both became much more comfortable in the shoot. I still gave her some pointers and asked her to do a few things differently but we were both allowed just to be in the shoot.

The rest of the shoot was spent driving around the country roads trying to find a spot that inspired and sparked our interest. This is one of the nice things about being in the country around sunset time – there are so many gorgeous locations, if you just stop to look!

The back of a run down shop in the center of town…

The fishing dock in the local State Park (where there was a sign posted to “Not Feed the Alligators”! What?! I was picturing that moment from Crocodile Dundee the whole time. My most paranoid shoot to date)….

The church down the country lane (not a dirt road but the lighting made it)….

DISCLAIMER: the mosquitoes got to me very quickly constantly nnneEEEEEing in my ear, so we abandoned this location before I could get very many.

To just a plain ol’ dirt road with some stunning lighting (golden hour does exist, people!)…

So just a friendly reminder to all artists out there: yes, plan. But don’t forgot to allow for the freedom of the moment. Happy creating!





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