Last year was incredible. I was shooting for Dancers of London nonstop. All year round, come rain or shine, I was in the street with incredible dancers, shooting to my heart’s content. However, I soon found myself turning into a one trick pony and my creative juices were drying up. Every position I asked a dancer to make was the same. Every angle I shot them from had been done time and time again (dancer in the middle of the road, my camera slightly below their eye line with the cars and pavement creating a parallax that would draw the viewers eye towards the dancer) and I quickly got over the sight of hinge kick. It was the same thing. Every. Single. Time.
To be frank with you, I became bored with my own work. I wasn’t inspired. To me, Dancers of London became a collection of exactly the same shot just with minor differences and something needed to change.
So, I took some time off. Luckily, it was around Christmas time and we can all be excused for hiding away from the world around us and just enjoying some quiet family time. For me though, while everyone was shovelling in mince pies and turkey, I was thinking about how I can refresh my brand. I Knew that Dancers of London would be turning 1 in that coming May and wanted to come up with ways in which I can keep myself inspired whilst remaining true to what DOL is. I came up with three rules. Rules I have stuck with to this day and that have, thankfully, paid off.
Take Your Time
Remind yourself that you are not in a race to get things completed and, in that same breath, you’re also never going to get a medal for “the most mile stones accomplished in the quickest time possible”. A year ago I was focused on doing as many shoots as I could, working with as many incredible dancers as I could get my hands on. Even though this is exactly what I needed to do to raise the awareness of Dancers of London, it completely ran me into the ground and it soon became something I had to do instead of something I did because of a “fire in my stomach”. This year, I’ve decided to shoot only when I had an idea that completely inspired me. Like Chantel tap dancing in Victoria Station or Daisy going crazy in the pouring rain. It’s why I’m back writing blogs and why I’ve started creating longer video content for Facebook. And, it’s why I now work with other dancers and creatives that expand my horizons.
You see, for me, collaborating with other creatives opens up my mind’s eye to new and exciting possibilities. Many of us within creative industries get a little scared about working with other people. We either think they will want to take control of everything or fear they’ll steal ideas our ideas. This is totally understandable. You didn’t work your arse of just for someone else to come along and steal your thunder. However, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot here. Yes, if your idea is good enough people are going to steal it but sealing yourself off from other people’s inputs is stupid. Let your guard down a little and work with people who will inspire and support you. If you’re a choreographer, work with dancers from different genres. If you’re a film maker, team up with people who have experience is styles that are alien to yours. In a nut shell, build up a network of creatives that will keep you on your toes. I have and I’m constantly meeting with them to hear their ideas and share mine. Sharing is caring after all.
Yep, it’s that “take a risk” cliché again. You shouldn’t just write it off though as it’s probably something you hear over and over again but never really do. They don’t have to be big risks. I mean, no one’s asking you to invest your life savings into funding your next project. Just take a step outside of your comfort zone. For example, I knew that if I wanted to get truly noticed I would need to work with some serious brands and dancers. With nowhere near as much experience as I would have liked to have had, I was presented with an opportunity to shoot for BLOCH. It was In Green Park with an amazing dancer named Lita and, with some help from my good friend Alex, we got everything we needed. Now, I’m not going to say the shoot was a massive success, there are things I would do differently if shooting it today, but taking that risk in first place helped me to raise me game, think in a different way and, by proxy, raise my brands awareness.
In a nut shell, the key to keeping creative is to find ways of making what you’re doing new and exciting. This could be by adjusting your style a little, or working with a fresh pair of eyes or even doing something completely out of the blue. Whatever it takes, it’s completely in your hands. So, enjoy it and go get ‘em.
If you want to get creative with me on a shoot, head over to contacts and give me a message. I'd love to hear from you.
All the best, Ollie