To become a better creator, I like to be prepared. Continuing on with the thought of internally creating before externally creating, I’ll lend a word about preparation. As the Latin proverb goes, “Fortune favors the bold.” I’m not sure how bold it is to go into something totally prepared, but I do find that the fortuitous moments happen far more often. At least I capture them more often when I’m ready and have my homework finished.


How creative can I be if I’m unprepared? I liken it to the writing assignments I would get back in grade school. If I only allowed myself the time needed to put pencil to paper and push out a finalized first draft, I left no room for the magic to happen, no room for change or spontaneity. If, on the off chance, I created an outline, then had written a first draft with a few days to spare, I was not only able to refine the words into something good and finalized, but I had time to be creative and improve my work. You have to spend time being structured and uncreative to be able to save time for creation.


I’m not saying don’t be spontaneous or that some of the best photographs were unplanned. However, with photography, I make my worst photographs when I just show up. I have to be prepared in order to have the serendipitous moments. If I have a story or concept I am working towards, and I’m nailing the items I’ve planned for, I have left time, space, and mental effort for experimentation and happy accidents. If I have to come up with the story or the concept the day of the shoot, I find I’m beholden to a schedule or a deadline and leave no room for free thinking.


Finally, a brief thought on preparation. I’m sure the pre-game routine is different for everyone. I review my Muse folder (collection of inspiring work that gets my wheels turning and the juices flowing). I use packing lists that I have refined over the years so I know I have all of the equipment I may need. I research location, and client, and talent so I know how to coach and direct others into my vision. I create shot lists and map out the story I’m trying to tell. Finally, I ask lots and lots of questions. What elements will help me better tell this story? What are the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights of the story?

How about you? What does your pre-shoot preparation look like?