March 25, 2013

Creating a composition is all about ‘killing your babies’.

I listen to a lot of podcasts about the process of writing, which might be considered an odd subject for a visual artist, but I have discovered that the creative thought process is fairly similar in many ways. In this blog I would like to touch on one of those similarities. 

I hear a lot of writers talk about the necessity of ‘killing their babies’, which basically means that they often have to cut the parts that they’re most fond of in order to improve their work. Recently I have notice that the same is true in creating a composition for a photo collage. 

When I create my collages I work solely with my own photographic material. I usually have somewhere between 100 and 300 photographs to work with, depending on the subject. I start by sorting through my photographs and picking out the ones that I love the most, the ones that I think I definitely want to use. Then from that selection I pick the one image that would make a good starting point. The reasons for picking a particular starting image vary from it having a great angle or awesome colors that I can use or maybe it is the most important building in the batch and it just has to be part of the piece. 

Often times, when going through my photographs, I’ll have pictures that I absolutely love and when I start I will usually add these to the mix fairly early. However, most of the time, when the composition progresses and grows, these pictures will end up being cut because they don’t fit the piece as a whole. This usually is a bit of a hurdle because I don’t want to cut them. I’ll try to incorporate them in every which way and will usually end up being very frustrated with the composition. Right up until the point where I just give up and ‘kill my babies’ as they say. As soon as they’re gone the whole composition just flows together and everything usually falls into place. 

You’d think I would learn from this experience and cut them sooner, or even better, don’t add them in the first place, but it doesn’t work like that because they do serve a purpose. They help me get into the composition when I start it, they help me find the initial vision for that particular piece and they get my creative juices flowing. If I wouldn’t add them they’ll just keep buzzing in the back of my head, begging to be used. Adding them will silence the buzzing and allow me to concentrate on the composition as a whole. Even the process of getting frustrated and eventually cutting them keeps me on my toes, it keeps me evaluating the piece every step of the way so it will be the best it can be. And every once in a while, I have a composition where everything just falls into pace and at times like that my babies are allowed to stay

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