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The Flow and Photography

In this blog post, I am going to talk about the Flow and how to use it to improve your photography Below are couple points that I am going to share throughout this blog post.

Key Points

  • The Flow state

  • How to use the Flow for your photography

Sony A7iii Zeiss 35mm F1.4, ISO 500, 1/125s, F1.4 | @bulababy
Sony A7iii Zeiss 35mm F1.4, ISO 500, 1/125s, F1.4 | @bulababy

The Flow state

What is the Flow state?

"A person in flow is completely focused. There is no space in consciousness for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings. Self-consciousness disappears, yet one feels stronger than usual. The sense of time is distorted: hours seem to pass by in minutes. When a person's entire being is stretched in full functioning of body and mind, whatever one does becomes worth doing for its own sake; living becomes its own justification." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In photoshoot, have you ever noticed that when you are in a photoshoot that you really like, the time just went by very fast? Sometimes I forgot to look at the time found out that it was almost toward the ending time of the photoshoot. If you are in a flow state during the photoshoot, you are aligned with your creative energy without any interruptions. I usually get better results in this state of mind.

How to use the Flow to benefit your photography

One setup at a time

Focus on one camera combo continuously for the photoshoot. From the past two years, I have tested different camera setup during one photoshoot. Sometimes I even compare three different camera brands at the same photoshoots like these videos below:

From the curiosity perspective, It is good to see different camera results during the same photoshoot. However, when I was switching the camera three times and ask the model to do the same pose again and again, it seemed to interrupt the flow of both the model and the photographer. When doing the third time of the same pose, the face expression will be more tired in some cases.

So if you are creating some comparison content, shooting multiple setup will be good occasionally. However, if you want to be in the Flow state for creative content, I would recommend to use less camera combo setup as possible. Ideally, I will use just one lens and one camera body throughout the same shoot.

The advantage of using one combo for the whole photoshoot is that you are used to the focusing distance and framing in your mind already. When you are walking around the street and find some nice background, you can immediately calculate the framing in your head without interruption.

And if you want to shoot both 35mm and 85mm with the same model, you can plan it into two separate photoshoots so that each shoot you are more focus on one combo setup.

Be in the Flow with the location

No matter what location you choose to do photoshoot in your city, you can be in the Flow state with the location that you chose, indoor or outdoor.

Be in flow with the lighting in your location. If you can't force it, flow with it. Sometimes the lighting in a location might not be ideal for what you have planned in mind. For example, you are planning a backlight photoshoot in downtown, but it turns out to be an overcast day. In this case, I will use the available soft light and shoot some front facing portraits instead.

Be in flow with the model's poses

For me, I don't like to fix into certain set of poses. I will give a general direction of poses and let the model do some free style poses to loose up a bit first. Once the model feel more comfortable, I will have some specific pose I want to try. The flow also applies to movement poses such as walking and hair flips. If you feel like the model is in a pretty tense state, you can ask the model to do some walking movement or turning around to let the dress in a flowy state. Below is one example of the movement pose:

Sony A7iii Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8, ISO100, 1/1000s, F1.4 | @rosinashakirova
Sony A7iii Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8, ISO100, 1/1000s, F1.8 | @rosinashakirova

Be in flow like water for your photography

Water can flow into any shape of forms and yet it is very powerful. From your photoshoot planning to your post photoshoot editing, you can be like water. Lighting or location background situation come up unexpectedly sometimes, in those cases, adapt to the environment. Just like water, it can flow into square or circular containers with no problems.

In summary, the Flow can help you improve the creativity in photography. When I am shooting in the zone, I forgot about the time. It felt much shorter than when you are interrupted. Be in the flow and happy creating :)

Zeiss 35mm F1.4:

Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.4:

Thanks for reading :) More photos will be uploaded in my Instagram account: @caliallstaring.

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