Every new idea is just a restatement of old ideas, or sometimes it’s several old ideas combined into a new one. Collecting ideas as you go along is a great way of mining new ways of thinking of things.
I use an Idea Bank to hold my ideas so I can use them at a later time.
For a long time, I’ve used a plain old folder to hold things like quotations, objects, articles, pictures and other ephemera. What I like about a physical folder is that I can pull the objects out from time to time and physically associate them with one another as I try to create new ideas out of things I’m interested in.
Each year, I take small groups of students to Italy for an intense week of photography and learning. Some destinations vary, but a constant is the workshop In Search of the Personal: Photographing Southern Tuscany, where my goal is to help my students tap into their personal way of seeing the world. This past summer, seven photographers went to the same locations but came home with dramatically different images, as they saw Tuscany with their own personal style in mind.
Watching a group of students just getting started in photography reminded me about how we reach “escape velocity” in photography. Their positive experience was based on time, concentration, idea and craft.
Leaving home can not only allow you to view your personal environment with new eyes, but the new experiences you find when you’re away can also help you see the world in a different way. Here I use some examples of how something that was not inherently about being “away” prompted me to experiment with light, reflection and transparency.