Neat Shiny Owl. Be Intentional.

Manic Pixie Cadillac


Moments When Grabbing Your Keys and Driving Yourself

to Inspiration Town Are Actually Necessary

TL;DR @ the Bottom, Gallery Included


And so, once the song got stuck in her head just enough, Dorothy Gale blindly followed the yellow brick road, with gusto. Spoiler alert: tragic mistake on her part. You witness a witch's feet retreat into her calves like a bag of fruit roll ups and then let a choir of helium-sipping dwarves sway you into treading Crayola rubble? Dorothy: please, abeg.

Shadiness aside, it’s truer that I've been a little more like Alice, tumbling, in fear, down the rabbit hole that is my career path, questioning so much, so often, when I could have taken a page from Dorothy’s book instead:

Charge forward, through the fear. Inspiration is borne of action, not inaction. As with any ludicrously catchy ear-worm, this brain fodder has pendulummated in my mind in recent weeks. Habitually, we of the art ilk wait for inspiration to visit us in the same way that we often expect our career to magically unfold, staring into an untouched canvas.

Sure, occasionally Glenda will swing by in her baby blue Cadillac and yeet some fairy dust our way, transmogrifying those Red Dr. Jays into Ruby Jimmy Choos. But what if she gets stuck between the Holland Tunnel and I-295? I mean, everybody drives differently, but Kansas is hella far either way.

Something can be done in that meanwhile. Always. Waiting is basically exhaling on repeat, no disrespect, Terry.


A recent portrait session with a mutual friend affirmed this for me, that something can always be done while waiting for inspiration. As we photographed, my muscle memory kicked into full gear: keep the atmosphere lighthearted and comfortable, always check for accurate lighting per the desired mood, make sure I have my mental shot-list progressively checked off.

Standard procedures, standard perfect execution. This was however, an unpaid session. No client, no budget, no profit.

In reflecting on what went well during this session and what could have improved, I began to recall musings of Lindsay Adler. Without deliberately planning regular non-paid sessions -- where the client is me and my portfolio of work -- inspiration will certainly dry up. It’s almost like math -- two and two really is four every time.

Truthfully, I stumbled upon this clarity, since the area I was walking in was happenstance. This portrait session was barely planned. It was mostly an 'if it happens, then dope' situation, and most of my energy was pointed toward catching up with a friend who is typically much, much farther away. There was no mood board, no lead-up dialogue. Just free time and gear.

The lesson is just as viable.

So I’ve decided to increase the amount of playtime, even alongside paid time and down time. My own yellow brick rabbit hole is littered with fears of all creeds and stagnancy is probably the one I push through the most in pursuit of inspiration. Yes, ideal clients and regularly paying tasks are a dream, but paid bills themselves don't always sate that artist itch.

For some, ‘always staying ready’ is not only exhausting but highly improbable. It's me. I'm some. The next best thing I can do is respect inspiration just as much as I respect Glenda's baby blue Caddy and the very real traffic she traverses while visiting every living, breathing artist.

How about you?


  1. Inspiration is borne of action, not inaction.

  2. Congested traffic respects no one.

  3. You're in love with this idea of Glenda the Good Witch in a baby blue Cadillac, aren't you?

  4. This is a portraits website first so...


Here's a gallerette of that impromptu portrait session. A fairly simple setup, at first anyway.

  • A 22" white beauty Dish (the old kind) functioned as the key and the sole light source for the first portrait, positioned slightly above camera and at the center of the subject's face.

  • This portrait was subsequently edited into a blue monochrome image

  • The beauty dish got axed next and was then replaced by three additional lights.

  • Camera left had a speedlight with a deep purple gel and no additional modifier, aimed from about shoulder level and feathered slightly past the ear, with a fairly high power.

  • Camera right was a small gold brolly box with a red gel covering the top half of the light inside the umbrella, at a considerably lower power, from a hair above shoulder level.

  • The front diffusion panel of this brolly box was removed completely and the gel, which, again, was only covering the top half of the light inside the box, gave an extremely soft and warm glow.

  • Background separation was achieved with a cyan gelled bare bulb strobe, bouncing off a large white chunk of foam-core.

  • Framing was SUPER intentional.... in post. Because I was a little lazy. Yeah, it was impromptu, and I'm overall VERY happy with the outcome. So was she. But no excuses; always improve.

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