My Creative Process Breakdown / by Alice Zilberberg

A lot of people approach me and ask how I come up with this s**t.

So today I thought I’d outline the ABCs of how I work. While this is just a general outline of my creative process, these sections will be expanded upon in other blog posts.



If you google “my creative process", most descriptions start with “I come up with an idea and…” so lets start before that. where do I get the idea in the first place?

There are so many different sources in my life to generate ideas from. Sometimes they have nothing to do with photography or art or sometimes they do. Books, podcasts, traveling, art galleries, talking, laughing, sitting doing nothing, are all potential sources. The complete artistic concept doesn’t come spontaneously, and never in front of a blank page titled “ideas”. In reality, half ideas merge with something else in the future to create something innovative.

Keeping a record

I keep an inspiration images folder with art that I see online, some of the images even make it into subfolders for different art projects I’m thinking about. I always have a list of visual ideas I want to try, (e.g, certain lighting) that I keep written down in Evernote. I also make myself write 10 Ideas a day to generate ideas, which I will explain in later blog posts. A general art project idea will form, for example, I want to shoot something focused on women's hair. This hair thought will incubate, perhaps for a long time, until some other ideas come along that complete it.



At that point, I don’t just take the idea, photograph it, and put it on the wall. Why? Because that’s boring, and bad. There is always a story behind the artwork. The story is only half complete at this point, so the next step is to do some research. I take the stem I already have of the story and I look at other artists who have explored the same area, read about the topic, talk to people who know about it, and see if I can introduce what I've learned into the visual concept. All the pieces of information would stew in my project soup until it’s clear what I’m trying to do.



Next step in the creative cook book is doing some sketches and tests of the idea to see if it will work. I often use paintings as inspiration for my art, and the conversation to photography can be harder than you’d think. I will do a quick photo-manipulation with images from the internet, see what I need to add, change, subtract.



Because my art projects are often so conceptual, I have to be picky about my shooting location. If I visualize a forest scene, I can’t take a model into a random one I found online and see if it works the day of the shoot. I often have to find the exact spot I want to shoot in. So I’ll do a day of location scouting, and go to different potential locations to see if any of them are good for my artwork, take some photos, go home and review.



Just like a location needs to be hand picked, so does the model. I use models for most of my projects, and unfortuntely they don’t just appear magically on the day of the shoot. I first outline specifically what I’m looking for. For the Goddess Almighty series, I needed a dancer. But not just any dancer, I needed someone who had a normal women’s body to support my vision, and not look like a small ballerina, which might make it look like a fashion shoot. I use sources like model agencies, model mayhem, friends, and Facebook to look for my perfect model.


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This is a crucial step in the creative process. If I’m going to do all this work of organizing a day and a time and a location, models, perhaps a makeup artists, and hair stylists, I have to make sure that what I’m doing with them will look good! I go to the location and test the lighting. Again, go home and review.


Finally, I do a photoshoot. Sometimes photoshoots take an hour, sometimes they take the whole day, sometimes I photograph different models throughout a long period of time, it’s all unique to the project I’m working on.


I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but my work is very digitally involved. After I shoot I do the selects, followed by some quick composites, and then I will start working on the real thing. My style involves a lot of image compositing and photo-manipulation, which could take days, weeks or months to do. 



After I finish working on a piece I will have to put it away and take a break from it for a few days to a week.

Why, you ask? Don’t I want to release it for the world to see?

well… I've just spent days staring at the screen hard at work . There might be things about it that I wouldn't notice until looking at it with a fresh eye. I do those things, then the internet can have it’s way with it.



Once the artwork is done... I do some more work. 

Separating my fine-art photography from my commercial photography, is the printing process. I have to ensure that what I created in photoshop looks good printed and framed. There are trillions of options for print-based artwork. I can print on canvas, glass, a variety of different papers, sizes, and frame selections. All of those decisions are based on what would be best for the artwork. For example, I usually go with glossy papers for graphic work, and rougher art giclee prints for artwork with a dark, natural, earthy quality. I always make sure that the paper I'm printing on is archival, and acid-free, to ensure the print lasts forever and ever.


Comment bellow and tell me about your creative process!

Coming up, more about inspiration, generating ideas, selling artwork and more...