“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.’
– Vincent van Gogh
As an artist I have a double-edged relationship with my subjects.
On the one hand, I look to them for inspiration. On the other hand, I make them yield to my imagination. This give and take exchange should permeate the entire creative process, from the moment a piece is started until the finishing touches are applied.
I pay special attention to van Gogh’s admonition to not become the slave of my model. As a photographer it is all too easy to find an interesting subject, capture it’s image and consider it done. Doing so tips the scales in favor of the subject (model) at the expense of the imagination.
A subject with no imagination is boring, imagination without a subject is too personal. A balance is needed. Sometimes a subject that is too impressive on it’s own can dominate the conversation – consider how many wonderful paintings have been made of very mundane subjects or how uninteresting cliched photographs of Yosemite have become.
Once I’ve captured an image, the give and take begins, the dialogue with the subject starts and the imagination must be given its voice. I try to make sure it is heard.