Guest Blog: Legendary Photographer In His Own Mind Mark Rodriguez
I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!
I’m stuck…what the hell am I going to shoot?…I need some way to be inspired but I don’t know how. Do you ever ask yourself these questions? Do you find yourself needing ways to figure out what to shoot? Yep, I’ve been there before as well and I’m here to tell ya there are plenty of ways out there to jump start your inspiration and I’m here to share a few that have helped me find my mojo.
If you’ve been around me long enough then you have most likely have heard me mention the photography scavenger hunt. What is the photography scavenger hunt you might ask? it is an online event that started by my friend Chrysta Rae way back in the infant days of Google+ (R.I.P.) and grew to become somewhat of an anomaly as far as internet photography communities go as it is entirely inclusive for all that participate and the people involved truly care about each other and their growth both personally and artistically.
What the hunt is is where you are given a list of words and it is up to you to interpret the words photographically any way that you see fit. It can be as literal or as abstract as you want and the abstract part for me is what makes my juices flow. I love trying to see just how far I can push an image and still have it relate to the word.
for instance, take the word “moon” for example. I could have walked outside looked up at the night sky and snapped a shot of the moon…but where is the fun in that? So I started brainstorming what other kinds of moons there could be. I had a list of things I came up with like a werewolf howling at the moon, pants pulled down (shooting a moon), moonpie, and finally I came to “the man in the moon”. So with that i came up with recreating an image from the silent movie Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) where the rocket lands on the man in the moon. It’s this kind of brainstorming and execution that really gets me going and the hunt helps facilitate that
Or sometimes I like to stretch the concept even further like when I took on the word “hamburger” and decided to pit a maniacal Ronald McDonald getting a little fast food payback on the chick-fil-A cow. These types of mental exercises can really pull the creativity out of the recesses of your brain and bring them to fruition and every time I get the list for a new hunt my mental gears engage
the hunt is a competition in spirit, but in reality it’s really a collection of amazing people that have become lifelong friends and that I consider family. There are no prizes other than bragging rights if you win and there are photographers of all skill levels and everything from full on DSLR shooters to iphonographers. And here is a a Fun fact: there have been at least three hunt participants that have also won Photoshopworld Guru awards with images they created for the hunt, Mary bel, Dave Debaremaker and myself with this oldie but goodie that I created for the word “happy face”
so you see, the hunt is a great way to get inspiration on the regular and who knows where the images you create for it might take you. to get more info about the hunt and when the next signup for the event will be visit the official site: The photography scavenger hunt
as some of you may know, I am very keen on doing self-portraiture and I owe that love to a reoccurring theme that also has it’s roots in the good old days of G+. originally “Selfy Sunday” was a weekly event and every other week of the event there would be an associated theme to go along with it. these themed prompts would usually be just what I needed as a call to action and get the brain moving to come up with something for the coming week’s shot. Selfy Sunday eventually became the art of self portraiture and we have carried the theme across all social media and it still inspires so many photographers each week to participate
with different themes each week it opens the possibilities for so many new and exciting challenges to create and to share the work with people who truly enjoy the craft. With this theme I have been able to portray myself in so many off-the-wall, crazy, and meaningful ways and the work I have created from it dominates my portfolio. Finding self portraiture in general helped me in so many ways as I wrote in a previous Kelby blogpost that I will always encourage people to at least try it as it can open up so many new ways to explore your creativity and even can help in other ways you might not have even considered
I tend to shy away from online and real life photography “groups” as many times they become toxic and can be detrimental in one’s growth as a lot of times you get unsolicited comments and critiques from all over the spectrum and from people who feel their way of shooting is the “right” way. That being said–if you find the right collective of artists it can be extremely beneficial and inspiring. Several years ago I was fortunate to be invited by fellow photographer Michael Sheehan to the local photography guild called The Tampa Bay Society of Photographic Artists and immediately knew I had found my people.
a community group should help build up it’s members not tear them down and this group is all about getting the very best out of each and every member. The added bonus to this group is that–much like the above-mentioned groups–we have themed shows that help drive the imagination and create in a way that has a purpose. Though right now all of our shows are only online, they are still themed and that helps with motivating the ‘ole brain to get it going and create new work. It was most exciting when we were having physical shows cause it meant–eeeeek!–having to actually print your work! But that added incentive acts as motivation for me and makes me want to push myself even further with my work and make something special. I can’t wait till we can have physical shows again!
these are but just a few examples of ways that help keep me motivated and creating and a few of the various outlets I use to help inspire my creativity. Drawing a blank or losing motivation is never a good thing and we have all experienced it at one time or another, but having these prompts to help give you an occasional nudge is a great way to stay engaged with your creativity and an excellent exercise in problem solving by finding a solution to the proposed theme you are presented with
Mark Rodriguez (a.k.a. Godriguez) is a Tampa Florida based artist. You can see more of his work at godriguezart.com and feel free to follow him on facebook, Instagram, and twitter as well as see some of his behind the scenes videos on youtube. In addition to photography, He also creates animations and does voice work for the non-profit learning series WhyU.org.