One day, while wandering around the vastness of the internet, I came across a video of a woman, Mackenzie Johnson, covering a song I enjoy. I immediately fell in love with her voice, her look, and the way she exuded joy and warmth. It seemed far-fetched that I’d even be able to get in touch with her, but without a second thought I sent her a message.
Next thing I know I’m brainstorming ideas for our upcoming photo shoot!
With this talented stranger’s arrival creeping ever closer, I was flooded with motivation to prepare and plan for our collaboration. I spent the next several days binge-listening to Mackenzie’s music and chatting with her about what sort of images we should create. Her voice is pure and smooth, and I kept imagining her sitting in a sunny forest serenading the woodland critters, Disney-princess-style. I knew I wanted to do at least one image of her playing ukulele, because who doesn’t want to feature a cute baby guitar, am I right? The scene started to manifest from all these little pieces I was pulling from my new collaboration partner.
I asked Mackenzie to bring some clothing that she thought was interesting and made her feel good. As if I couldn’t get any luckier, in addition to having the perfect selection of clothing, it turned out she’s incredibly talented with makeup. In her, I’d found a model, wardrobe designer, hair and makeup artist, and brainstorming consultant all in one. She even provided the music for the shoot – I had her play and sing so that, in the images, it would actually look like she was singing, you know…because she was. Since Mackenzie had many of the creative jobs covered, I was free to focus more on arranging my lighting, determining poses, and dreaming up how to pull off the final edit.
As Mackenzie’s sweet voice filled the studio, I called out different poses and bounced around tweaking lights between shots. With her as my fellow collaborator, we were able to experiment more, offering our individual skillsets to the creation of something bigger than either of us could’ve created on our own. Looking back the hundreds of shoots I’ve done, this one is still one of my all-time favorites, and it never would have happened if I had not reached out to a total stranger.
While I do, without a doubt, enjoy shoots where I have absolute control of every single detail, having someone to bounce ideas off of, or even to hand over parts of the artistic responsibilities, can be incredibly energizing and rewarding. My mind will start to work alongside theirs in ways it never would have when flying solo. You’d be surprised what can happen when you set your ego aside and let another creative brain help to fill in the gaps of a project.
So if you ever find yourself inspired by someone, even if they have nothing to do with the world of photography and/or Photoshop, just contact them. Our brains are strange and wonderful machines and they each function differently. We’ll all find ourselves in a creative rut from time to time, so how do we get out of it? I believe creativity functions much like car batteries; sometimes we need a jump from someone else’s to get moving again. If you find your “brain-machine” has stalled and the ideas aren’t flowing, perhaps you need to ask a stranger for a jump.
Robert Cornelius is a photographer, digital painter, and photo-manipulating-wizard all rolled into one. Employing his film degree from Full Sail University, he blogs about creating his cinematic fantasy composites.
Leland Foster has a knack for capturing dark scenes that evoke a feeling of uneasiness and exclusion. He tells us how he shot a nostalgic series of images one night in Phoenix, including one particularly dramatic scene of a local diner.
Continuing with our digital marketing for photographers series, we talk about two things that you need for a successful digital marketing strategy and how they can help you build trust with your customers: link building and content creation.
Having grown up in the south of France, with a sailor father and surfer brothers, Ben Thouard learned about the water early on. Now, he photographs pro surfers from France to Tahiti and is a master of the underwater shot. Here’s what’s in his camera kit.
New York City street photographer Manuel Pena always has his camera on hand – even on his daily commute, which is why he was able to capture this intriguing shot of everyday life. Manuel explains how he took the shot and his editing process to draw out the beauty in the everyday.
Surreal self-portrait artist Natalia Seth has become quite the Instagram sensation, working with the likes of Adobe and Club Med – and she’s only 18! In our interview, Natalia talks about her new book, her Instagram success and her new PHLEARN tutorial.
Concluding our series on the exposure triangle, we discuss ISO, which plays its own specific role in exposure and light. This guide explains what ISO is, how it affects your images, the pros and cons of using ISO, and how it interacts with shutter speed and aperture.
Part 3 of 3 Camera Reviews: Concluding his series, professional lifestyle photographer Josh S. Rose reviews the cameras he works with for professional and personal shoots. Here, Josh talks about the Leica M-P, with a full year of photoshoot examples showing us when it performed at its best.
Erik Johansson is a Swedish photographer and image creator currently based in Prague, Czech Republic, specializing in surrealism, photo manipulation, and montages that will really make you question reality. Let’s have a look at what’s in his camera bag.