Jul 25, 2012

Exploring Your Imagination

Text-align: left;”>Congratulations to the Winners of last week’s contest! We had to pick three this week because your entries were just so good! Congratulations to Rubén ChaseLauri Laukkanen, and Karina Boissonnier!
Please contact us here to let us know what Phlearn PRO you guys would like. Congratulations to the three of you!


Exploring Your Imagination: Dreams, the Subconscious, & Surrealism

By: Jenna Petrone

From reading last week’s article, “Conceptual Photography: The Importance of the Story,” you now have an idea and plenty of inspiration on how to think of concepts and plan out your photo shoots. If you haven’t read the article yet, I highly recommend it.  In this week’s article, we are going to explore the imagination and the ideas and possibilities that can come out of simply using yourself as Inspiration.

Dreams & Your Imagination

No matter who you are, everyone dreams.  Some people remember dreams more than others, and some people barley remember their dreams at all. Have you ever thought about pulling ideas for your photography or art in general from your dreams whether they are daydreams or nocturnal dreams?

In Sigmund Freud’s essay, “The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming” in his book, On Creativity and the Unconscious, Freud analyzed how poets are able to write the material that they do.  I believe what he says about poets can be related to anyone who produces creative work: artists, photographers, filmmakers, writers, and more.

Freud states that when we were children, we used playing as a form of expressing our creativity and our imaginations. We weren’t afraid of sharing our imagination and our play with other people and we were able to bring our imagination into the real world with no problem at all. As we grow older, we start to take life more seriously and more responsibility is thrown onto our shoulders.  Freud believes that when we grow older, instead of playing and expressing our imagination to other people, we substitute it with daydreams.  We get almost the same experience from daydreaming as we did playing as a child. Poets, as well as other people who create, use daydreaming as a Tool to express themselves in their creative work.

You know we all do it, daydreaming is something that just happens to us naturally and we can’t avoid it. Our mind wanders everywhere and as artists, we should take full advantage of that. While daydreaming, we tend to reference the past, present, and future all in a short amount of time. Imagine the ideas and concepts you can come up with by simply exploring your own imagination and observing how your thoughts connect with each other!

While we are sleeping, our dreams are very similar to daydreams but we have less control over them and sometimes, they just don’t make any sense at all.  Nocturnal dreams are more surreal and often have a sublime feeling to them and can help inspire some pretty awesome concepts for art.  This is when surrealism comes into play.


Using dreams and the subconscious thoughts of humans has been used in art ever since surrealism first entered the art world.  Surrealism is an “artistic and literary moment, dedicated to expressing the imagination as a revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and convention” (Art Republic). Some popular surrealist artists include painters such as Salavor Dali, René Magritte, André Masson and photographers such as Man Ray, Jerry N. Uelsmann, and André Kertész. All of these surrealist artists have had a huge influence on the art world and especially with the Conceptual Photography we see today. With the technology of Photoshop, our imaginations, and Inspirations like these artists, we are able to create different worlds with the same surreal feel to them as these artists did in their art work.

My challenge to you is to step out of the ordinary.  Sure, you can be inspired by a book, a song, or by looking at other artists work, but what about being inspired by yourself & your own thoughts?  There are plenty of contemporary photographers and artists out there who use their thoughts, nocturnal dreams, and daydreams to their advantage. Here are some examples:

A photographer and artist who goes by the name of Michael Vincent Manalo, is a great example of someone who take advantage of his personal thoughts and puts them into his artwork.  According to a video he has on his website, Michael is inspired by his subconscious, dreams, the surreal painter Salvador Dali, and what he sees in his every day life.  He takes the Inspiration and uses a combination of photography and Digital Art to create his images.

“A Requiem for Self-Destruction” & “Remembrances of the Soul” by Michael Vincent Manalo

From looking at his images, I definitely wonder what is going on and why the images look the way they do.  They are bizarre, well put together, and they have a painterly quality to them which makes them the unique images that they are.

A photographer who I recently stumbled upon on flickr, Chiara Fersini, otherwise known as Himitsuhana, is an extremely talented artist who puts personal elements into each one of her images.  Here is her artist statement from her website:

“Photography is not just a passion to me; It is the best way to show the intricate world that I feel inside.  I put my fears, my dreams, my sorrow, and my joy into my works.  To see them happening in images is a manner to become free.”

I admire Chiara for her honesty and how she incorporates herself, her thoughts, and her dreams into her photography so well.  One of her images that stood out to me is an image of her standing in an ocean with a huge wave coming towards her.  Her back is faced to the camera and she seems to be standing there with such composure, like she’s not scared of the wave at all and she is going to embrace it instead of running away.  Or, it can be the complete opposite, maybe the wave has scared her to the point where’s she’s so terrified she can’t move.  According to her flickr, this picture is a “representation of a very frequent dream of mine.”  I think it’s a very powerful image that not only has a dream-like feel to it, but a sublime one as well.

After some personal experience, viewing other artists, and reading up on dreams and how our brains work, I believe that using yourself for inspiration is one of the best ways to approach art. It allows you to explore your subconscious, you as a person, and it lets you share your imagination with the world in a creative way.

The Challenge

This week, I challenge you to step out of the ordinary.  Explore your imagination, your dreams, and look at some surrealist art.  Make the impossible, possible and show us how your mind works through a photograph.  This week’s contest is very open, you can take & submit any type of image that you want as long as it was inspired by YOU.  We would love to hear about the image and your thought process behind it as well.  Please submit your image in the comments below for a chance to win a Phlearn PRO.  All submissions must be in by noon CST on August 1st.  Here are some examples of images Angela & I have created based on our thoughts, dreams, and the idea of surrealism:


I chose this image to be included in this week’s article because it is surreal and dream-like without over doing it.  The concept is simple; the only thing that is out of the ordinary in this picture is the Shadow of an unidentified girl.  It’s slightly twisting a realistic shot to make the viewer look twice and question what’s really going on. Sometimes that’s all you need in a picture, one element that is slightly odd and out of place to capture the viewers attention.  That was my intention; I wanted the viewer to be intrigued yet confused at the same time.  I feel like that’s what dreams are like and how people are supposed to view surrealist art.


This is a photo I took for my second 365 days photo project. I titled it “Beautifully Disfigured”. When I look at this photo on my Flickr to read about it and to see what my thoughts about it were at the time, there is hardly anything wrote there. Other than me talking about how I chose to spend my time that day, as well as that this shot was compiled together with 50 images, and it took 3 hours for me to put it together.

Text-align: left;”>When I think about how I got this idea, and go through the pages in my notebook, it seems as if I got the idea from no where. From a dream perhaps, whether it be daydreaming on my walk home from school or a dream had in my slumber. I just remember thinking of a story of a girl who is trapped somewhere within her own thoughts. She is caught in a world of torture and pain, but it’s a world that she put herself into, yet can’t seem to get herself out of. Kind of being stuck in a state of mind that you can’t seem to get yourself out of, or being stuck in a rut. The assortment of hands represent these thoughts.

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