How to Build Creativity with Pinterest (not kill it)

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I have read various rants online about how Pinterest kills creativity (for example, this one).

The general huff is that Pinterest kills creativity because people go there looking for finished projects to copy, rather than coming up with their own. That’s like saying a writer who reads books won’t be able to write one of her own. Like any other resource, you have to use it effectively.

I pin all sorts of things, from garden sheds to scooters and corgis. How does this help me as an artist? Here are six good ways to use Pinterest as a photographer:

1. Spark creativity with rapid-pinning. Take five minutes to pin. Don’t think too much—pin whatever you love! This is like free-writing. Then go back later and look for threads. The threads can be the seeds for your new work.

2. Get to know your clients’ tastes. Ask to follow them on Pinterest. Use their boards to see what kind of location they like—urban, mountains, beach? Look for other threads, too. What kind of light are they drawn to? (Shadowy, crisp and bright, backlight?) How about composition? Do you notice any similarities? (Diagonal composition, triangles, etc.)

3. Help your clients understand you. Chances are, they will notice threads in your work and the things you pin. This helps you draw your ideal client.

4. Share resources and guidance—visually–for what to wear to a portrait session

5. Find props or other things you might want to incorporate into a photo session (like the gold lace crown I just found on etsy via Pinterest!)

6. Borrow ideas. Duplicating someone else’s great idea is not what it’s about. Building on it, or incorporating it into something new – that is how art grows. I have pinned everything from places I’d love to do portrait sessions, to a recipe for hedgehog-shaped cookies to make with my son. The cookies won’t be the art of the day; watching my son share them with our (real) hedgehog, Walter, though …? That might just be a picture-perfect moment.

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