Skillshare Audio: Plan, Execute, and Share Your Next Creative Project | Justin Bridges | Skillshare

Skillshare Audio: Plan, Execute, and Share Your Next Creative Project

Justin Bridges, Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro

Skillshare Audio: Plan, Execute, and Share Your Next Creative Project

Justin Bridges, Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro

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2 Lessons (11m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:32
    • 2. Building Your Creative Project

      9:55
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About This Class

This class is audio-only, so you won’t see any active video on your screen. Plug in your headphones, take a listen, and let us know what you think!

In a brand-new, audio-only class, photographer Justin Bridges shares his step-by-step guide to plan, execute, and share a meaningful, personal creative project. 

No matter your medium (paint, photography, words, video), sometimes a personal project is just what’s needed to jumpstart your creativity and reconnect you with your community. Join Justin as he shares his process for a personal project he’s been working on for years — and how it helped him process confusing, difficult times along the way.

You’ll discover how to:

  • Zero in on a creative idea
  • Choose the right medium — it might not be obvious!
  • Map out your game plan
  • Plan the right way to share your work

Whether you listen as you finish up your latest client project, on a long drive as you contemplate your next life move, or just through your headphones with your cat on the couch, this class is the perfect antidote for anyone feeling a little creatively stumped. After you listen, you’ll have the step-by-step guide you need to find your idea, make a plan, and get creating.

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Meet Your Teacher

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Justin Bridges

Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro

Teacher

Justin Bridges is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Justin began his pursuit of photography as a college student studying finance and economics.

Although he opted for an early career as a finance professional at Goldman Sachs, he realized the need to align his career with his love of photography. Today, he balances his photography career with a passion for personal finance.

Justin's approach is to capture the untraveled moment and apply a feeling of art and thoughtfulness to each photograph.

Clients and publications include:

Media: GQ, Details, Esquire, High Snobiety & Selectism, Complex Media, Hypebeast Magazine Fashion: Giorgio Armani, Public School NY, The Arrivals, Raleigh, En Noir, Ovadia & So... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but even as a creative, you need a creative outlet. When our 45th president was elected, I felt like my train was just completely derail. Welcome 45th president of the United States defeating, Hillary Clinton at the campaign unlike anything. It was a giant glowing reminder for me that things couldn't stay the same. I saw so much divisiveness witness in the world that I wanted to be able to heal my artistic self, but also find a way to send out a message that could possibly heal people that were struggling with the divisiveness that we were seeing. Our faces is a photography project that's about tying together humanity by the use of expressions. Welcome to skill share audio. I'm Justin Bridges, a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. After the election, I decided I needed to add more creativity to my work and find a way to actually invoke the power of photography through storytelling, connecting with others, and having a message. What that looks like for me as a portrait project where I spend 2-3 hours on each subject. We spent an hour getting to know each other over tea, to break the ice, and to better inform the way I choose to capture their emotions. All my subjects are shot the exact same way on a white background and black and white, with the main focus being their expression. In today's lesson, I'll break down how to create a personal project. I will go over where to begin, how to build a road map to track our progress, and how to showcase our work once we're finished. Let's get to it. 2. Building Your Creative Project: I think the first step in starting a personal project is finding something that interests you, something that grabs your attention, something that motivates you to actually want to get out and do it. I think any personal project needs to be organic to yourself; otherwise, you're just never going to have the motivation or the catalyst to really get going. The process of trying to figure out what you're trying to say can be as organic as just writing some things down in a journal, or just thinking about the things that inspire you, whether that be work from somebody else that's an artist or just a message out in the world that you think isn't being answered or being talked about. If you're unsure about what to pick for your personal project, I like to ask myself a couple of questions. What am I worried about? What are things I've been thinking about recently? What's going on in the world that I wanted to have a comment or a message about? What are some things that I enjoy doing that I might be able to put my own spin or take on? Honestly, don't overthink it. A personal project doesn't have to be this big, grand idea. It can start small and you can develop it along the way. How I accomplish this with Our Faces is when I saw all this divisiveness in the world, I wanted to answer the question, how are we more alike than we are dissimilar? Through my work, I've noticed that we all have this range of beautiful expressions that we all share, and that's just one thing we have in common as human beings. I thought that message was the fundamental basis for how I could start this project. Now that you've identified exactly what you want to say, the next step in this process, step 2, is figuring out what medium is best for this project. When you're thinking about the medium for your project, I think the first thing to consider is what is it that I'm actually good at? What is my talent set? What is it that I can naturally step into the project and feel like I can accomplish something right away? It's easier to pick something that's close to the heart, something that comes naturally for you than to pick an area or a category that's way on the other side of your creativity. That's not to say don't do it, but it's just one consideration about the challenges that you might be facing. On the other hand, I always like to consider my audience when I'm choosing my medium. The main point of this is I want my actual message to align with the impact it has with the audience. If I'm a photographer and I choose to do a writing project, but I'm not as well suited for that or doesn't convey my message the way that I intended, then it doesn't land with the audience the same way and it doesn't have that same impact. Also, some stories have a visual component and that's necessary for getting the message across, but it might not be the form that's needed to tell the entire story. So you always have to consider how these things line up so that you get the most intent and impact out of your messaging. I decided to choose photography for Our Faces because it was the language in which I knew that I'd be best suited to get the message across. It's something that comes natural to me so there was no barrier to get started. I think it was a visual language. It was just easier for me to communicate the concept, the idea, and really get people on board to participate. Now that I've figured out the concept and the medium, the next step is organizing your personal project. Let's start with the style or the look. As an example in my personal project Our Faces, I went with portraiture and black and white. I made both of those choices for a specific reason. I chose portraiture because I wanted people to be able to focus right on the faces, the expression, the emotion. I chose black and white because it removes a lot of the distraction like elements of clothing or skin tone or all those things. I wanted to tie us together as humans with expression and have nothing else be distracting in the photo. For Our Faces specifically, one of the things that I needed the most was people to shoot. I wanted to cast a large range of characters, people that had different skin tones, different backgrounds, different belief systems. I think this is nice. Just all types of walks of life that I could get in front of my lens and capture the expressions to show how similar we all are as humans. Now that I've figured out who I wanted to shoot, the next important step for me was trying to figure out how can I fit this into my busy work schedule. I decided I'm going to schedule blocks of two hours for each subject that come to my apartment or to my studio so we could sit, get to meet each other over a cup of tea, and then spend an hour just shooting. Sometimes, a personal project doesn't necessarily always have this well-defined end date. One of the things I like to do to keep myself motivated is to share my progress along the way, whether that's sharing it with friends or family members, or sharing a couple of the images that I create on Instagram so that the community can see what I'm working on. Because personal projects are often self-funded passion projects, it's important to always consider budget. A starting point for me is always, how can I keep this as cheapest possible, but keep the impact and the quality as high as possible? One tip is, how do I take advantage of the things that I already own so I don't have to go out and buy new equipment or new software in order to finish this project? Another tip is, and specifically for photography, can I take advantage of my apartment, outdoors instead of having to say, rent a studio space or rent a location? My third tip is the least fun but it's very practical, and that is just set a budget. Decide what you're comfortable spinning for this project from the beginning, and then try to keep yourself aligned with that budget as you work through it to the end of the project. We've now made it through the first three steps, and now we've arrived at step number 4 which is marking your milestones. One of the biggest benefits of a personal project on your creativity, is that it helps you learn and grow. My personal project, Our Faces, has influenced me as an artist because with every single subject that I meet, because I have a one hour tea with them and get to know them and get to see all sides of them as a human, it's allowed me to remind myself that you have to learn, you have to be open-minded and you have to take those things and implement them in your artistry because that allows you to get your message out there in a better, more impactful way. Not only has it helped me develop as an artist, but it's also influenced my creativity as well. One of the biggest things that happens is because I'm working on personal projects, I'm trying out different things. I'm experimenting. Then maybe move the napkin and spoon up to the middle one. That experimentation leads me to learn things that I didn't know, or add techniques that might benefit me in other areas of my photography. But maybe just a little bit higher so we can see the neck of the spoon, there. I've definitely sat and done portrait projects where I thought, "Oh, this light that I just tested out would be perfect for this job that I have coming up," and that's helped me bridge the gap between my creativity and my experimentation to my professional life. Now that we've talked about marking your milestones, the next important step is, how do you share your personal project? There are so many options when determining how to showcase your personal project. As a photographer, I can post in Instagram, I can have a gallery viewing, I can even build a website. There are a few things we should consider when deciding which one works best for our project. To better understand the considerations for how you should think about how to display your personal project, I want to walk you through mine and how I made my decision. For Our Faces as a portrait photography-based project, I knew that I could turn to Instagram to showcase my work, but the problem with Instagram is that people have a limited attention span. It's just the nature of the beast. You're scrolling through your feeds, your liking photos, you're skipping photos, and that's it. Nobody even read the caption. But I wanted a chance for people to actually take in the work, spent a little time with the work, and in some cases, maybe even get a chance to interact with the artists themselves. So instead of going with just Instagram, I wanted to couple my personal project with a gallery viewing and a coffee table book. That way people could spend more time with the images. They can have a little bit of a text accompaniment so that they could see what I was thinking, the things that I was trying to get across, and at the gallery showing, they can even ask questions and talk about the work and interact with other people that can share their viewpoint on the work. Anything to get people to spend more than a minute or two on each piece is important to me. When I use words like coffee table book or gallery viewing, they sound expensive to me too. Let's use a gallery viewing as an example. You're going to need a budget to make the prints, and you're also going to need a budget for a space to show those prints. One tip would be to partner with a photo studio or retail location that might want to partner with you to give you the space for free in exchange for bringing a lot of people into the doors. Another tip would be to look for sponsors in your local area that might want to host an event and take care of the calls for you to put that event on. A third helpful tip would be to consider selling the prints that you're exhibiting so that you can cover the costs of making them and a little bit more. That's it, we just covered five steps to creating a personal project. We went through identifying the concept for a personal project and figuring out what it is that you want to say. We've talked about identifying the medium and figuring out how you want to say it. We've also talked about organizing the project and marking milestones. Finally, we covered sharing that personal project once it's all done. Thanks for listening to Skillshare audio. I'm Justin Bridges. If you've enjoyed this lesson, make sure to check out my other classes on my Skillshare page. Finally, I love to see your personal projects. Feel free to share comments and links in the class discussion section.