“A person can learn a lot from a dog..he taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things..a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” ― John Grogan (Marley and Me)

So why Choose a Theme??..I’m pretty sure we have all heard this advice somewhere along the way, so how does choosing a Theme help us to unlock our creativity.

Well, when I first arrived in Paris I pretty much shot everything that moved. It was beautiful, captivating and overwhelming all at once. It was here, on a workshop with my friend and mentor Valerie Jardin that she suggested we choose a theme. Suggestions included a subject, a colour or an element. Immediately I knew my themes would be the dogs of Paris and the colour red. It just felt right..

Occupation Dog Walker. Paris 2015

When I saw this Dog Walker I was intrigued, not only did he have 5 dogs on a leash, he had many more that were following them on their walk, just like a Pied Piper of Dogs. In this image I crouched down in a doorway for my low Point of View (POV) and prefocused, then waited for the decisive moment and took my shot. I have since learnt he is a famous character in Paris and known by many.

Paris Dogs are such a great Theme, they seemed smart and street savvy with loads of character… this leads me to my next point of clarity. Choose a theme that truly gets you excited and involved… If you think a theme is boring or “naff” then it will be reflected in your images.

Are you Looking at Me. Paris 2015

So every day when I left on my photowalks there were dogs in every direction, I felt like a Dog Magnet! As an added bonus I actually found people were so friendly when I took an interest in their pets, it really was an icebreaker. This image is a street portrait of a pug, and I still can’t tell if he is looking at me or behind me, hence the title.
This doesn’t mean you don’t take other subjects, by all means, when something catches your eye you take the image, by introducing a discipline it actually adds focus. It allows you see more possibilities and thereby you create more images.

Metro Dog. Paris 2015

By the end of the week I had taken many images of dogs. Themes are not limited to subjects, they can also be an element or discipline. After a day or so I had added shadows, silhouettes and reflections to my list.
Themes are also important if you are entering a photographic competition. All the images must be tied together with some common thread.
Again the one essential element is that you must be excited by your Theme. “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein
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So what themes interest you the most?

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