There are other places to find inspiration for your photography besides looking at photographs. Movies for instance. Not every movie will inspire you, but there are few that I am sure stand out.
My most recent favorite is The Assassination of Jesse James. Clearly this doesn’t happen often considering my most recent is three years old. I loved this movie altogether for its new approach on the subject of Jesse James, a psychological look at this person and the people he was involved with. In contrast to the customary shoot em up, Western interpretation we know so well.
The cinematography from that film took the emotional and psychological state of Jesse James and enhanced it with spot on visual interpretation. Almost every scene was breath taking, emotional, and what I said at the time, like a photograph. In particular the scene in which Jesse looks out across the foggy landscape to the hill where a silhouetted figure begins to approach. The feeling, atmosphere, silence in that scene mirrored so well the slide into the depressive, soon to be out of control state James was headed for. You felt his loneliness, his confusion, the fact that for the first time he felt vulnerable and out of control.It was all falling apart for him when he never thought it would. All of this was portrayed in a few seconds of reel across a foggy field. The scenography, said it, the visuals said it, not his words.
Watching that scene gave me the urge to travel far and wide to photograph these atmospheres, plainly and with out manipulation. To see the beauty in the simple, unadulterated. Because in my opinion THAT is what a photograph is all about. In the simplest of terms portraying a feeling, an atmosphere, telling a story even when there isn’t one.
My second all time most inspiring film in terms of photography is The Graduate for obvious reasons. Mike Nichols went against the rules, revolutionizing how movies were filmed. Mrs. Robinson’s leg framing in Hoffman as he sweats with indecision at her indecent proposal. The isolation as he laid at the bottom of the pool staring back at his weird, out of touch parents. Simple but very affective changes in filmmaking. Experimenting gone right. Without Nichol’s new approach that film would never have become the classic it is today. It was the uncharacteristic approach to filming the scenes that gave this film it’s edge.
Music videos can also be a source of inspiration, not only because they can be something out of a dream or a nightmare with their often surreal theme and disjointed plot, and still they some how make sense, but also because of the occasional simplicity in which they are produced. It has always been my feeling getting your point across with as few props as possible will be and is the ultimate challenge. You have so little to distract the viewer with. Either it works or it doesn’t. No inbetween.
I came across this video today on Facebook, Yuna “Decorate”. What struck me was how simple it was and yet very emotional. More importantly how well it matched the song and it’s meaning with nothing more than a white, blown out background and an artists expression. Never mind it is a homemade video. While this video will not win any awards it is a great example of simplicity, of working with what you have and making it work for you.
I must also mention that while this video was heavily edited it still felt natural.
Share you movie and video greats with each other. We all need inspiration on a daily basis.