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.

etc etc….

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

My photos