Staging a photograph is similar to painting a canvas. As we mentioned earlier photography is often about trying to capture the decisive moment. However, it can also be about creating a decisive moment. Photography doesn’t need to be reactionary, it can be a creation built with the imagination of the photographer. Too often, photographers are thought of as either being assigned to a specific task which would have them photograph someone else’s idea. The photographer’s role in this case is to be the person with the technical expertise who can bring other peoples visions into reality. In some cases, this is how advertising photography works. A creative director will come up with a plan that they will communicate to the photographer who is responsible for shooting the idea.
In other instances photographers have created a role for themselves as observers or documentarians who capture events as they unfold. This is an important part of photography and a big part of what a lot of photography is. However, it should be noted that as photographers you must be able to think outside of the box and think like film directors. Use your imagination to come up with a story or a sequence of photographs which tell a story. Think about lighting, think about costumes, think about props, think about people, think about facial expression, think about ambiance and think about the overall mood.
Your imagination is a wonderful tool and using it to create photographic concepts is a great idea. However, as you’ll soon realize, reproducing your imagination onto film is no easy task. Our minds are like little movie theatres, we can visualize things which we have never seen in real life before and we can create stories with words, music and imagery. Our imagination is a very powerful tool. Now it’s your job as a photographer to practice getting that imagery out of your mind and onto your film or CCD chip.
Maybe your staged photograph could be about a concept, maybe it could be a scene from a dream, maybe it could be something as abstract as a mood. Maybe it could be about the exploration of colours, or the exploration of darkness. The possibilities are virtually limitless.