Sometimes people ask me where I get the ideas for some of the images I get to create (with the help of many, many talented people who work with me). My answer is sometimes we have to sweat out a concept, and sometimes a wonderful idea springs from the warped recesses of my mind, or the less warped recesses of someone else's mind.
The image above is an example of the first. Some of the professionals I work with on The Undersea Journal -- Theresa, Aja, and Todd -- and I were kicking around ways to show how PADI professionals lead people into scuba diving. We thrashed around one bad idea after another for at least an hour, until someone suggested that we be literal -- show someone leading divers, single file. I sketched out the concept (below -- and now you know why I shoot instead of draw) and suggested we shoot it almost vertical (which we did). The result was the image above, and the cover below.
The PADI "Angel" shot was the result of an idea popping to mind. We working on another project and it occurred to me that some of the banners we were using look like angel wings. During a break from the "real" work, my friends Mike, Abe and Hernan willingly delayed hard-earned breathers to execute the idea. This BTS (Behind The Scenes) shot shows the basic setup:
It took about 30 minutes of getting things adjusted, but we finally got a master image I could carry through to the final concept. Later, after four hours in post work, I had something that was more than my initial vision, thanks to further inspiration as I Photoshopped:
Here's the point: Whether "the" idea results from hours of beating our heads against the wall, or simply a flash of insight, bringing the concept to the computer screen (or to print or wherever it's going) takes work. These images weren't snapshots that got banged off in a moment. They took patience, teamwork, lighting and multiple exposures to get the needed capture, followed by hours (cover shot) retouching, and then even more hours (angel shot) crafting the final conception.
If you create a remarkable image, you may or may not have inspiration. But excepting a few lucky shots now and again, you will always have perspiration.