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What inspires me: Cinema

So that is exactly what happened the past week, I was uninspired. Maybe that’s related to our current situation, the lockdown, and everything. I was trying to find an interesting subject for my YouTube channel and my brain just froze. So I thought "inspiration" would be a perfect subject. Where do I get my inspiration from, where do I get my ideas? Here is part of the answer.

Film, movies, cinema from indie films to Hollywood. I cannot deny that cinema has had and still has an impact on my work. I am not a fan of copying ideas or concepts from others unless it’s for learning purposes and I generally keep these exercises for me. I then take elements I like from several different places, mix, modify and apply them to my own work. Of course, I have to add my spice to it. I have to take the idea or concept somewhere else because if I don’t, I will end up being a fraud. When watching a film, I question myself about the things I feel while watching it, what does that particular scene do to me. Why do I like it, or hate it, why I think it’s effective or boring, and how I can incorporate this into my work or simply learn from it. Basically, I am expanding my vocabulary, I am constantly looking for new tools to express myself. I believe that today, it is impossible to be original, everything has been done already. So you will be at best a beautiful mix of different things, elements, ideas, and concepts, influenced by your life experience which will help you create something that reflects who you are. The more elaborate and dense your vocabulary is, the more tools you have at your disposal, the more unique your work will seem to be. I am surprised I haven’t been inspired much more by the lighting techniques used in some of my favorite movies so far. But still, When looking closely at some of them I see where I drew some of my inspirations.

Julie Charlet who was 8 months pregnant at the hôtel la cour des consuls in Toulouse (2020)!

More on this session: A special dance photoshoot

FILM: Lion (2016) DIRECTOR: Garth Davis

Lyria Van Moer in Strasbourg (2018)!

More on this session: Test, fail, learn, repeat!

.FILM: Lion (2016) DIRECTOR: Garth Davis

Fanny George photographed in Strasbourg (2020).

Paula Penachio inside the Palais des festivals in Cannes (2018)

More on this session: One light when your short in time

Lyria Van Moer inside the Palais des festivals in Cannes (2017)

FILM: One Hour Photo (2002) DIRECTOR: Mark Romanek

Dave Scott in Paris (2014)

Manon Vergé inside the Pavillon Joséphine (2020)

FILM: Paddington 2 (2017) DIRECTOR: Paul King

Lauren Kennedy in the streets of Toulouse (2016)

More on this session: Toulouse; BTS photoshoots Vlog 14

FILM: Paddington 2 (2017) DIRECTOR: Paul King

So looking at the dates, you will probably think: "This doesn't work, he actually shot this 1 year before the movie". What I am trying to show here is that some of these composition examples are common and have been used for years, so be sure to add them to your vocabulary!

Fanny George inside the Pavillon Joséphine (2016)

More on this session: Goodbye Strasbourg

FILM: The Hunt (2012) DIRECTOR: Thomas Vinterberg

Julie Loria inside la Basilique St Sernin in Toulouse (2017)

More on this session: Toulouse; BTS photoshoots Vlog 14

Lyria Van Moer inside the Palais des festivals in Cannes (2017)

Backlighting and silhouettes. Something I also took from movies, and that I should do much more often. I have done too many images that are front-lit.

Uva Virgina and Cesar Agazzi inside the Abattoirs contemporary museum in Toulouse (2017). More on this session: InMotion Toulouse 2017 part II; Tango photography

By the way, the website I used for all the screengrabs in this article is from the amazing website: SHOTDECK!

I never went on that Cinematic look in my photography in terms of lighting, but this is going to change soon. By the way, the word “Cinematic”, is one of the most overused words on YouTube. This will be the last time I will use it, as YouTubers have beaten this word to death in the past years to a point that it doesn’t make sense anymore.

Why movies and not photography?

I feel that the majority of photographs I have access to, especially on IG tend to look the same. Some are really good and superbly executed but that’s it. You strip off the technical aspect of it and there is nothing left. And I kind of feel this way about a lot of my images and this has to change.

Last year in December, my wife and I decided to watch one movie per night. Past and present, classics we have never seen or wish to see again. Childhood memories, ones we are ashamed of but loved to watch when we were kids… and of course brand new releases. Basically, we pick both pick 15 movies, throw the titles in a hat, and randomly pick one each night. In January I decided to share a few words on some of these movies on my Twitter, and I will probably share some of my favorite frames and a few words on my favorite cinematographers. Follow the hashtag #eachdayamovie and start the conversation. So if you are feeling uninspired, movies can really boost your creativity. Plus this will you to have some context to your work, think about production design and the narrative of your shots. I know that this is exactly what I am going to work on this year. What are your favorite movies, do movies inspire you any way… let us know in the comments below!


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