A Fine Art Photo Walkthrough: the Detours from Sketch to Final Image


Choosing the path of an artist means near-constant wrestling with your ideas in order to bring them to life.

That doesn’t mean that the effort and struggle aren’t worth it.

But it does mean that there will be days where ideas won’t work, and you’ll be stuck staring failure in the face.

The thing about failure is that it is not an end in and of itself. It is simply a starting point.

I tell my students and the members of my Facebook Artist’s Group this all of the time: failure is ok. In fact, I would love to be able to define failure so that we’e not always so afraid of it in our creative practices. Though it’s easy to let failure get us down, I’m personally trying to reframe it by thinking of failure as fertile ground for growth.

After all, what do we have to lose after we’ve failed?

I went through this experience recently when I was working on my latest image. I had gone into the studio with a clear idea of how I wanted the image to look, going so far as to even have a sketch in hand. But I quickly learned that the physics of the my sketch were not translating into reality.

So I decided to try a different technique to get the pose I wanted. However, this slight adjustment also began to make changes in the image and what was ultimately communicated to the viewer. As I brought the shoot into the editing room, I began to realize that the original idea I had wanted to communicate was not going to come to fruition.

Was I disappointed? Absolutely!

The theme that I had wanted to convey with my image now was completely lost and convoluted by other symbols that my pose had taken on.

Normally when this happens I leave my image and idea to sit. Sometimes they will sit in folders for weeks or years until the solution comes to me. This time I woke up the next morning, owning the fact that my original idea had failed but invigorated with the possibilities that now opened up.

In this video I walk you through the original sketch, images that I shot, and my entire editing process from failure to finish:

What I hope you take away from this video is that what we perceive as failures are not dead ends. They are only detours. And those detours can take us on exciting scenic roads in our creative lives. We just need to be open to taking that ride.

Happy creating!