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What's the Big Idea - part 3 of 1 2 3 4

by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2011

Despite this, the literature on the subject is comprehensive but not always flattering. Some texts condemn brainstorming as a stifling influence on creation, advocating that the participants take time out to think about problems, alone. Normally brainstorming sessions involve teams; better teams have a mix of personalities and skills but need a strong chairperson to control the dominant characters and tease out material from the reticent (and sometimes more inventive).

Almost universally, the protocols for brainstorming demand that no idea is condemned as trivial and that a 'collator' scribbles down as much as they can and as fast as they can. Fishbone diagrams are a classic tool for brainstorming, plenty of paper is a must (Ford have a room dedicated to the task which has white-boards right around the walls; at your editor's previous company, which was involved with very difficult research, we had a white-board that could record what was written on it and make a printout at the touch of a button; in a laboratory complex with some of the fanciest tools around, this simple device was one of the best things we had!).

Once the germ of an idea is sown, things should move along at a pace and now the trick is knowing when to call a halt to development; this is sometimes when single ideas can suddenly become themed panels of images, so much to say and so little space on a 16x20 board!


There are other 'idea props' that may be used. Carrying a small note-book and jotting down ideas as they occur is useful, some people always carry a compact camera and record anything of interest - the mobile phone has taken over this task these days. Other people tear out images and adverts that they like and file them, for sifting through at times of creative famine. Helen Sapiecha - The Societies' Photographer of the Year Here are Helen's notes of her own Big Idea generation.

"My digital images tend to start with what may, at the time, seem to be a passing thought or phrase which grabbed my attention, or sparked my imagination. From there I move to brain storming, usually scrawling in my little black 'ideas' book. From there I eventually move to my digital darkroom and let things grow organically, almost ad hoc, on the screen. Watching the image grow and evolve, to me, is the most inspirational part of the process

THE LOST ROOM ( PoY winning image) With the The Lost Room, someone famous once said, "we live our whole lives in rooms, be they physical, or metaphorical", Anyone who knows me knows that I am a thinker; this statement resonated with me, and I began to think about metaphorical rooms, and the compartmentalisation of emotion. I think the viewer should decide for themselves which emotion this room portrays for them.


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