Images that Inspire

I have thought in images all my life. At the rip old age of five, I would sit in my living room – in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – with a thick stack of blank paper and draw different scenes while talking out loud to myself, as if reciting a script in my head. I would progress from drawing to drawing – or shot to shot – and lay the finished images out on the floor in front of me. A story would soon unfold through the drawings. Looking back on it now, I was drawing something akin to a storyboard.

Mario Sorrenti

The images in this entry have all come to inspire me in different ways during the writing of my next film. Some are inspirations for wardrobe and production design, while others are simply blue prints for shots that I have in my own mind.

Russell James

As I write, I constantly look through photographs for inspiration. These photographs influence my writing as well as some of the ideas I have for actual shots. I pour over images in hopes that something will inspire me. I look at art photographers, like Edward Weston and Man Ray. I look at fashion photographers, like Mario Sorrenti, Paolo Roversi and Mario Testino. I collect images in folders on my laptop.

Annie Leibovitz

Some filmmakers – like myself – are inspired by paintings, drawings and photographs. I remember listening to Terry Gilliam interviewed in Cannes (May, 2009) and how he said he was not necessarily inspired by other films, but by paintings. I do find lessons are found in the structure of other films – what to do and what not to do – while visual inspiration can be found in an Andrew Wyeth painting, a Russell James fashion photograph or your own photograph of a chance encounter out in the world.

Inspiring Image

An inspiring image by Horst P. Horst called ‎”Mainbocher Corset.

We are influenced by what surrounds us and by the actions of those souls who have gone before us. Centuries of art and literature influence my own creative direction. The Internet has given us sites where individuals share their own work along with the work of others. After browsing various fashion and design blogs, I have decided to post the pieces that inspire me.

What I love about Horst P. Horst’s “Mainbocher Corset” is its simplicity. While not in color, it does not seem like a quintessential black and white photograph. There is abundance of white. A softness of the light tempered by shadows. Having studied drawing temporarily at RISD: The Rhode Island School of Design, I notice the way in which the model has been posed, which brings attention to the muscles in her back, as well as the bareness of her skin. As an artist, we learned about anatomy. How the muscles fit under the skin and around the bones; about contour and shape; about creating a sense of weight to a figure.

Horst paid close attention to detail. Thought was put into how to style her hair. How to position her body; her head; her arms; the ribbons hanging carelessly on the table top; the choice of what seems to be a marble table. Of course I am drawn to the corset, which is a beautiful piece.

To me, this woman is lonely, as well as alone. It is less of a scene than a study of form. At the moment, I’m writing about a film about a woman who is in love, but feels very much alone regardless of her feelings towards her lover. Horst’s photograph inspires me, because of a similar sense of sadness mixed with intimacy and seclusion.

“Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…”

A re-printing of “Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…”(MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2007)

“All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded, I said… and went on in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life, whether from the women at the street corners with their arms akimbo… or from the violet-sellers and the match-sellers and the old crones stationed under doorways… Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the ever-changing and turning world.”(Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own.”)

I wonder what Virginia Woolf – who is one of my favorite writers – would think of blogs today. I believe that she would be very excited about the availability of this form of expression for women writers everywhere. She had the belief that women needed five hundred pounds a year (in 1929) and a room of one’s own in order to have the freedom to pick up our pens and write.

I am lucky, finally, to have the ability to write full-time. I realize that I am in a wonderful position and am thankful, although it did not come easily. I feel, also, that having two blogs have given me a platform on which I can express myself. Blogs create a constant exercise in writing and thinking and putting your thoughts together. It is so important to write (if you are a writer) or to take photographs (if you are a photographer.) Whatever your dream, your focus, your end all be all, it is important to have the time to devote to it. Too many people do not have the time or money to concentrate on their dream.

Last month I wrote about my love of writing on the silky pages of a good journal. I even took a photograph of some of my lovely bound books. My two blogs – “A Bohemian Girl” and “The Weight of It” – both serve a purpose. One is a scattering of thoughts (which I hope are not ignorant ramblings) and the other one is a chronicle of something that is very important to me.

To Woolf, it didn’t matter if we were poets, fiction writers, or travel writers. She supported the woman’s desire to be a writer. It didn’t matter to her what sort of book you wrote. She even wrote, “Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”(Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”.)

“Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…” What a fantastic line. What an inspiring thought. I want to inspire, because I want to be inspired in return. I want to be inspired by what happens in another person’s presence. By the simplicity of a situation. By a perfect moment. Moments that could have happened yesterday or twenty years ago, but will remain forever fresh in your mind.

I want to record these moments. Things like a conversation between strangers. The colors of Malaysia when it rains. A bird flying through an old barn’s rafters that has rays of light slicing through the air that are filled with dust. Sleeping on the top bunk as you take the night train to Saint Petersburg. Sitting on a Vermont mountain side amongst scultpures and tall grass as you take in all the nature around you. The Charles Bridge in Prague at midnight as the rain comes down softly while you walk past police officers and a couple in love with the castle on your right in the distance. Or an attractive man getting up to give you his seat. I could go on forever….

But inspiration should come naturally. There should be no pressure or design. It’s in the person’s make-up. In their own personal design. In their interest in the World around them. And because of this, they make you want to be the best person you can possibly be. Isnt it wonderful when you turn around and are surprised by inspiration? By a spark? By life? By something you have done! Or seen. Been lucky to have witnessed. Isn’t it lovely when you don’t have to say a word and the energy flows through you simply because you are sitting beside this person? And they can be a friend, a relative, a lover… Ah, inspiration is addictive… I love to be fueled, inspired, supported by my friends. By my loved ones. By my family. We should charge those around us. Inspire each other to do our best work and be the best people we can be.

Blogs are a form of expression. We are given anonymous free range to express to others who we are, what our thoughts on matters are, what our experiences have been like, what our memories are filled with. It’s a way of connecting to readers, friends, loved ones, strangers… I write in order to inspire. I write in order to keep my mind working. To keep it oiled, if you will. I write, because I have to and there is nothing else I could do. Or, rather, be happy doing.