Over the last couple or three years, I’ve done a few of what I call ‘cup ramen shoots’. The idea is basically to shoot a fashion set in about the time it would take to unwrap, add boiling water to and prepare a cup-ramen [cup noodle]. Which, depending on the variety of noodle, is between 3 and 5minutes. It’s a bit of a laugh. It’s also very good exercise for me, my model and – if it’s part of a lesson – my students.
Just like for athletes, I think it’s really important for creative professionals to have exercises and routines to keep fit. I have a few of my own which also get me out of the creative ruts I often find myself in; those times of the month where you just take a look at your work and think ‘this is crap and I’ve lost my mojo’.
The ‘cup-ramen shoot’ is one of these exercises. I usually mix it up with one or two of the other ‘creative gymnasium’ routines that I have: one prime lens, one light, one gel, one modifier.
Yesterday I’d been doing an all-day photo tour/lesson with Michael, who is in Japan for a month from Germany. It’s his first trip here. We visited a load of cool places during the day and as Michael likes shooting models – in and out of the studio – we decided to hook up with Norie in Shibuya for a quick shoot and a beer to end the day.
Everything we did took about 30mins, which included finding the location, thinking about the setup, Michael shooting what he wanted to and me shooting a few frames (the cup-ramen part, as all my shots took less than 5mins).
Michael told me he had a great day. Seeing the very quick setup I shot gave him, he said, real inspiration to pare things down a lot and concentrate on limiting himself more. Limitations, IMHO, are a great way of focusing and honing your skills. Limitations like:
- One light.
- Monochrome only
- 3200K only
- 5min time limit
- 36shots only
- No deletes
- One prime.
Keep it simple. Do it often. The eye is a muscle. So is your brain. They need regular exercise. Repetition and routine can be very useful for keeping the photographer fit and on the ball.
Gear used in my shots:
- Nikon D3S
- 14mm f/2.8
- 24-70mm f/2.8 [Michael’s lens]
- 1 x Nikon SB-800
- Radio trigger for the flash
- 1 x red gel
- 1 x green gel