Susanna Melo & Jack Cioffi: How do you become more creative?

Yes, everyone is creative; and yes, you can become more creative.

Susanna Melo

One way to become more creative is to add randomness and “accidents” as well as to impose limitations on your photography. If you do things the “right” way, then you are probably copying others; maybe even following “best practices.” The results may be excellent, but they may not be especially creative.

I have a list of 44 ways to “make mistakes” in order to try something different. One idea is to “over-expose a photograph.” The image will be too bright and detail will be lost in the bright areas. The results can have a light, airy, happy feeling.

A second idea is: “don’t focus on the face.” In my portrait of Michelle DuBose, for example, her fingers are sharp and her face is not, but we can still “see” her face.

A third idea is to “go out in bad weather.” Susanna Melo’s portrait was taken when it was raining. Her idea—not mine—was to lie underneath a glass door resting atop of two sawhorses. Through experimentation, we discovered that the closer she moved her face to the glass, the clearer her image became. Some areas of the glass had a “better” arrangement of raindrops than others; so she moved to different areas underneath the door. Since Susanna does ceramic sculptures, she calls her portrait “Emerging artist.” Susanna said, “Keith Kenney has a unique and personal way to work with his clients. He gets to know them first (personality, interests, passions, work, etc.) through emails, phone calls and/or conversations in order to come up with ideas for his clients’ portraits. Together with his clients, they come up with a creative and artistic portrait that conveys the clients’ ideas and/or message that they would like to convey to the viewer. I was very pleased with the result of my portrait. I wanted to convey the message that I am an emerging artist. As a result, my image was taken as though I was under the surface of water, ready to emerge. The experience of being photographed creatively to express my message was very exciting!”

Jack Cioffi

A completely different way to be creative is to look for inspiration from an unusual source. For example, you can use a song as inspiration. I asked Jack Cioffi to name his favorite song, and he said the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” I asked him to write the song’s title 8-10 times on a sheet of paper. Then we found a large, empty room with beautiful light. Using Photoshop, I reversed the writing from black to white, layered the words on top of Jack’s image, varied the opacity of the words, and then added a texture (the black frame) to the image. Jack said, “Working with Keith was a blast! Not only was he very professional and focused, he made the whole experience easy and fun!”