For me, themed/conceptual photo-shoots grab my attention, pull at my heart strings and make me weak in the knees. Seriously, folks. I love these type of shoots that much and I will tell you why. Put your reading glasses on because I am about to spill my guts...
What IS Conceptual Photography? Well, good ol' Wiki says, "Conceptual photography is a type of photography that illustrates an idea" . It describes a genre of art, an individual image or series of images that speak something so strong it moves you and tells a story to your soul (okay that part was my definition, sorry wiki). Sometimes, the idea in the image, or concept, is easily perceived by your audience and sometimes it is only self fulfilling to the artist. Either way, the idea is to CREATE a CONCEPT with an IMAGE.
The image above was my play on the character Ophelia in the Shakespearean play "Hamlet" . I wanted to portray the floating Ophelia, For me, I wanted the model to look innocent but longing for something. Which, to me, meant a white dress, light hair and feminine flowers all to portray the love and innocence of this young girl. The water made it the perfect amount of creepy for me. The water had a dark shadowy feel that I needed in order to portray that questionable longing feeling with an ounce of creepiness. I provided the props, wardrobe, found the model, and I told her exactly what I wanted.
The hard part for many folks is getting the story to come across in the imagery. Some artists/photographers prefer to write a list of ideas on paper, but I keep it all in my head. I literally see something that inspires me. For this shoot it was an image I saw of a girl floating in water and it instantly reminded me of Ophelia. I already loved the concept of young love and curiosity...so my mind made a story and I went from there. My key words were: Shadowy, gloomy yet beautiful, white and innocent, feminine, vintage, love.
You may or may not need a few ounces of crazy and you may even be called weird for creating art like this. I have been called weird, crazy, demented....but I don't care. Conceptual Art makes me happy, I could photograph this and this only for the rest of my camera's existence and be satisfied.
The next set of images were created based upon a headpiece. Upon the model sending me a message that contained an image of the head piece, I automatically thought of life, but in a dark way. The piece was made of flowers, yet they were all black. Key words that came into my mind which helped me create this story: dark, strong, powerful, tall, life in death, beauty in dark, cold. I took those key words and created images that told just that.
I CANNOT EXPRESS THIS ENOUGH...it is IMPORTANT to choose a location and atmosphere that plays on the key words! Without the location, wardrobe, make up, posing, and lighting...your story will be very very hard to portray. All those things help create a feeling for your image. It can make or break it. Conceptual photography isn't always easy, it can be very discouraging. When I have an idea, I must create it. Turning out wrong is not an option for me. An idea that consumes me turns into something personal. I am only satisfied when I have captured the essence and feeling in my image. It takes planning, creating props and having good communication with your model. Your model needs to know exactly what you are going for, they are a key role in what you are trying to create and express.
Inspiration can come from anything. From society, from movies, from music, from children, from friends, from a partner, from the internet, from a book, poetry or from one single word...literally anything.
This next shoot was inspired by one word: Love. The girl didn't know what love was and was running from what society was forcing her to be. In the midst of running she found beauty and saw love...she became it. (key words: nature is beautiful, natural, human beings connecting with nature, love, dark, running, scared, fear)
Since I have accepted the fact that this is what I love and stopped believing it was weird or demented....I have incorporated concepts into my "regular" shoots. How? Well, I want to show my clients "feelings" in their images. To me, it speaks so loud when I can hear or feel something from an image. An image CAN BE AN EXPRESSION. I don't want a boring old image where my clients just pose and look at me...NO! I want them to be involved, interacting and to WANT to have different images. Creating that makes me heart happy.
In a nutshell, conceptual photography is something you have to enjoy. You can take any key words or ideas and create a story with it! It doesn't have to make sense to a mass crowd, but trust me, there will be folks out there that see what you see and they will follow the story you create with your imagery and they will think your art is beautiful. Remember, it takes a lot of planning, the right location, the correct lighting, a great model, good communication to your creative team, and the right costumes/wardrobe (you might even have to make it like I have before).
Below are some other images from Conceptual Shoots I have done. Each has their own story, just like each of us do and we should not be afraid to tell it. I encourage you to get out there and create a story, it is quite satisfying.
PS: thank you to my friends (photographers and nonphotographers) for putting up with my crazy ideas and letting me bounce ideas off of you. Thank you to my husband for not putting me in a pshyc ward when I tell you some of my concept shoot ideas. Thank you to my models who always portray my ideas so very well. THANK YOU to Ellie Monce for always supplying my models with the bestest make up/hair around. Thank you to KML Creatives for kick butt overlays, actions, and textures. Thank you, God, for giving me this creative ability to be weird.