Debby Brown's Hocus Focus
Hi there!

This month's word is Creativity. So much has been said about that idea, that one would think there's nothing more to talk about.

But scroll down and see what the DB&A photographers have to show/say about being creative. Maybe something new will jump out at you. It did for me!


Founder and Sometimes Creative Officer
Deborah Brown & Associates
Or Can Creativity Just Occur?
Or can both be true?

I remember the day when I actually felt that I had a bit of creativity in me (besides the day I gave birth). My daughter, Sarah, was 4 years old and was having a meltdown in the evening just before bedtime. I've forgotten the exact trigger, but she was sobbing and resisting and saying "no" to everything. I was pretty much at the end of my rope, too. Reasoning wasn't an option, and forcing her to quiet down or explain what was bugging her was also going nowhere. So, I sat her on my lap, put my arms around her and said, "Is it hard being 4?"

This may sound laughable to you, and I admit that when I said it, I kind of meant it as a joke. But, as soon as I asked the question, Sarah turned her tear-streaked face to me, nodded solemnly and said in a relieved voice, "Yes," as if she had a huge weight lifted from her 4-year-old shoulders. She snuggled up and we both just sat there for about  a minute or so, then calmly and quietly we continued with the bedtime rituals. Wow! No tangible artwork was created that night, but a creative solution to a problem was definitely born.

Assignment photography is usually a little more problem-solving than blank canvas, but that doesn't mean creativity goes out the door. When you ask your photographer to make your factory look pretty, or to make the CEO look dignified, relaxed, friendly and in-charge, or the newest device look futuristic but also accessible, you're giving him the subject, the tone and the mood. But it's up to him to figure out how to create those images that "say" what you want them to.

With that in mind, I asked each of the DBA photographers to send me a photo followed by the back story about it's creation. Here's what they came up with: 

© Amos Chan (Based In New York City)
This was a test shot for Elizabeth Schneider's vegetable cook book, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini. My idea was to have each vegetable sitting on a page of a newspaper from the vegetable's country of origin in its native language. My example here is Chinese Chives on a piece of Chinese newspaper. Elizabeth loved it, but unfortunately, the book designer nixed the idea. I still like the shot.


© Rosanne Olson (Based in Seattle)
I shot this image for the Puerto Department of Tourism. We found this beautiful location, located the owner, got permission and proceeded to set up in the middle of nowhere. The air was heavy with humidity and there was no breeze at all. We did not have a generator to create wind, so one of the crew members fanned a large piece of foam core to create "wind" on the model. But that did nothing for the scarf around her. So my stylist did double duty by standing up behind the model, rolling the scarf, tossing it in the air and then diving down into the long grass as I did the photo.

  © Ron Wu  (based in Chicago)
I have always believed in what John Cleese said in his talk about creativity: "Creativity is not a talent but a way of operating." Watch the video of the whole talk here.

© Robin Moyer (based in Hong Kong) Photo courtesy of Sikorsky
This photo for Sikorsky of their S92 helicopter was shot over the city of Bangkok. The shoot was scheduled on a typically hot and hazy tropical day. Very tough shooting atmosphere especially from a chase helicopter. We were only going to have 30 minutes in the air, so  the pilots and I created a flight plan which took into account two important issues: 1. keeping my chase 'copter between the S92 and the sun at all times; and 2. avoiding the restricted airspace over the Royal Family's compound. The careful pre-planning produced some beautiful opportunities.

  © Neal Wilson (based in the UK)
When it comes to photographing anything do to with the military, getting permissions can be tough and take a long time. I had a client who was involved with head-up displays in military fighter jets and needed some shots for their annual report. They were reluctant to contact the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the UK because of the security issues involved. Fortunately, an art director who worked on the Royal Air Force account was a good friend and colleague. After a phone call to him, a photo shoot was organized at RAF Marham in Norfolk within fifteen minutes, with access to a Tornado jet plus a two man flight crew. The rub was that I had permission for only a VERY short shoot time. The client wanted a photo of the flight crew shot from the rear walking to the jet. Fine, no problem. But I also shot the image above which I felt better emphasized the strength of their product, and, in the end, this was the shot that landed on the cover of the report. Success all the way around.

© Jon Love (Based in Sydney, Australia)
This photo was shot on the day that the Commonwealth Bank staged a re-enactment of their annual charity boat race. Unfortunately, there wasn't much water in the river that day, and the "crew's" spirits were flagging. So, I arranged with the city's fire brigade to get a couple of trucks out to the river and have firemen with hoses douse the boat crew with water, making for a hilarious experience, thoroughly enjoyed by all (soaked cameras notwithstanding)! 

© Bill Gallery  (based in New England)
A photo of just-for-the-heck-of-it creativity.

By the way, if you're in the market for stock photography, have a look at Bill Gallery's images here:

Getting back to my daughter, Sarah. I used that "Is it hard being  _____ years old?" line with her the next year when she was 5 (worked great) and tried again when she was 6. But by then she pretty much knew what she was crying about and wouldn't give up until she got her way. Ugh! Just like a lot of ideas, once their freshness is gone, they don't seem quite as creative any more. But if you think about it, that's probably a good thing. 

Be on the lookout for November's word: ENDURANCE.

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