3 steps to creating a beautiful photograph

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Many creative people keep a notebook of sorts to collect their ideas, but it wasn’t until I heard both Brooke Shaden & Aaron Nace talk about the importance of sketching their ideas that I decided to keep one specifically for my photography. I currently keep digital and analog scrapbooks of my thoughts & inspiration (ex. pinterest!), but had never set aside an entire notebook devoted solely to imagery. So, when I decided to try it out, of course I had to go all the way in! And what better way of feeling artistically inspired than by using a charcoal pencil to sketch your ideas? Legit. =) Charcoal may be a little messy, but isn’t the creative process itself? I think using charcoal makes drawing a little more exciting. Plus, it entices me to record my ideas as I have them. Win.

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Here are my three steps to creating a beautiful photograph, based on my experience:

1. Have a clear vision.

Bringing your beautiful little idea to fruition is much easier when you have a clear notion of what it is, exactly. This is definitely not to say you can’t leave room for spur-of-the-moment creative inspiration, but having a vision of what you desire gives you a starting point to work with. For me, sometimes I’m inspired by something I see on pinterest or something floating around on the interwebs, but often I’m inspired by a piece of writing, a song, a film, a movement, or a happening in my own life. These things aren’t necessarily already visual, which brings me to point number two…

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2. Record what you see.

This is the fun part, because it’s the first step in bringing your idea out of the confines of your mind and into life!  This is where the drawing comes in, and you pick up your pen (or in my case, charcoal pencil) and let your image flow across the page. You might want to record any emotions or colors you want to convey in the image on the page as well.

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As you can tell, my sketches aren’t all that detailed, but they still get the point of my idea across. (Plus, isn’t this little rubber eraser just so cute?!)

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3. Bring your image off the page.

The whole point of this process is to clearly record what inspires you so that you can capture it in camera! So in this step, work on recreating the image you formed in your mind in the space you have to work with. Even though my sketch is pretty basic, you can tell exactly where I wanted to do the shoot, which props I wanted to include (the pillow), where I wanted to sit, what pose I wanted to be in (legs crossed, chin near hands), how I wanted my hair, and the basic composition of the image (vertical, full body shot). Having all of these things not only already planned out, but also already visually depicted means that there’s less I have to think about on the day of the shoot. All I have to do is look at my sketch because I’ve already pretty much determined what I’m going to capture.

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I know it seems like a relatively simple process, but as artists its easy for us to have a brilliant idea and then forget about it sometime later (oh wait, just me? lol). Putting your ideas on paper not only helps you plan for a specific shoot you’d like to do, but also is nice to reference during a shoot when you want to stay true to your original idea. It’s already made a world of difference in my art and it’s a technique I will definitely be putting into practice from now on. I think having a specific plan for your shoots lets you be even more creative. And drawing it out yourself really helps you think about how to create the image.

p.s. This post is the first in a new series I’m starting on the blog called “faq & how to!” I’m super excited about it because it will enable me to share what I’ve learned on this wonderful journey of photography with you, and it’ll include some fun videos from yours truly! If you’d like to see more of these posts, make sure you follow the blog or like my facebook page! And even more importantly, if you know someone who could benefit from learning about this system for bringing their creative ideas to life, be sure to share this post with them! I’m sure they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness (as will I). =)


10 thoughts on “3 steps to creating a beautiful photograph

  1. Hi Paulina, great first post, looking forward to seeing more. Seems like a great idea. I am always seeing something or having a moment of inspiration that I want to remember but like you often sometime later i forget. All I can remember is that I had a great idea or saw something I would love to photograph. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: How To Draw People- Capture A Likeness | Painting and Drawing

  3. Pingback: Yes, You Too Can Draw - Ch 8 — Drawing Composition | Chris Hilbig.com - BETA edition

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