We were so blessed to have been sponsored as official writers by the awesome team at SLR Lounge for our week at WPPI. The 4th of 10 in our series, snippets of what inspired, challenged and moved us at WPPI 2011, with Jim Garner!
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Jim Garner WPPI 2011 | The Creative Explosion
Who is Jim Garner?
Graduating college as a psychology major, Jim Garner turned to professional commercial photography in 1993 in Seattle. After marrying the love of his life, the other half of his photography business, he and Katarina started a wedding photography business. Hundreds of weddings later, Jim Garner is now known as one of American Photo Magazine’s Top 10 wedding photographers in the world.
As he changed his style from picture taker to storyteller, the creative explosion that he unveiled in this WPPI 2011 Platform Class took place.
You can view more of Jim Garner’s breathtaking work here.
His Platform Class
How can we have creative explosions in our work?
“SMILING MOMENTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMAGE PERFECTION. STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE TECHNICAL DETAILS BUT ON HOW TO CREATE A STORY.”
- JIM GARNER
For Jim Garner, the answers are simple. But these answers will transform your photography to the timeless and extraordinary:
1. YOU MUST CREATIVELY REINVENT REGULARLY
How do you release your inner creative genius? Jim says there are 4 ways to do just that:
• Capturing: Preserve new ideas. Write your ideas down when you get out of bed, out of the shower.
• Surrounding: Surround yourself with interesting people and ideas. Take a 20-minute walk.
• Challenging: Take on tough problems. Try something new. Join competitions.
• Broadening: Expand your knowledge. Have an outing or adventure once/week with personal projects. Fail! Failure stimulates creativity.
Make sure you take lots of breaks. Sleep on it! Surround yourself with positive stimulation. Record ideas AS they come to you.
2. YOU SHOULD BE CREATING ART, NOT PICTURES
“WE MUST STOP LOOKING FOR PORTFOLIO MOMENTS. THEY’LL COME NATURALLY WHEN YOU FOCUS ON STORYTELLING 10X MORE THAN YOU’LL EXPECT IF YOU FOCUS ON JUST YOUR PORTFOLIO.”
- JIM GARNER
Jim argued against being just a picture taker and becoming a storyteller.
A Picture Taker:
• Captures the image WITHOUT design intention
• Takes MANY images in a short period of time (shoots like lightning)
• Lighting consistency is NOT considered while shooting (you need continuity)
• Nowadays, he challenges himself to never use flash, off camera, or alternative lighting
• Delivers images on a disc or as individual prints
• Relies on canned poses that worked in the past (stifles creativity)
• Usually subjects look at the camera (creates a posed/portrait look)
• Captures images with the FINAL art design in mind
• Shoots quick bursts and then allow for client interaction
• Lighting is consistent during the shoot
• Delivers images in albums/enlargements. You’ll get paid for every image you retouch.
• Relies on client experience to create the REAL expression and fun
• Most images have a candid appearance with subjects looking away from the camera
• Focus on feeling, emotion, and natural moments
• Thinks in album spreads. An album spread with well-designed images are as, if not MORE, impactful than a single WOW shot.
• Adapts to the style of the bride (To Jim, the more affluent the bride, the more candid they want their images to be)
Jim’s first goal is always to just get everyone moving. Jim will have the limo park 4 blocks down to see what happens as the bridal party walk on the street. He’ll use words such as:
• “Work that!”
• “Hit me with that dress!”
Let your clients play. DON’T have them redo poses. That drains their energy.
Then, change your website to show stories, not just single photos.
3. YOU MUST DELIVER ART THAT HAS LONG TERM VALUE IF YOU PLAN TO HAVE LONGEVITY IN ANY CREATIVE FIELD
By delivering art, you’re structuring your business for profit.
4. YOU MUST PROPERLY IDENTIFY YOUR CLIENT – THEIR STYLE, TASTE AND VISION
5. YOU MUST CREATE IMAGES THAT REPRESENT YOUR CLIENT IF YOU WANT THEM TO FIND VALUE IN THOSE IMAGES
Study your clients’ personality. You have to be in their inner circle to influence what they do.
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Stay tuned for more from Kenny Kim, Kevin Kubota, Jules Bianchi, Jose Villa, and Susan Stripling in the coming weeks.
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