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  • By Alice Zilberberg

Alice Zilberberg: My creative process

Alice Zilberberg

A lot of people approach me and ask how I come up with my images. Here is a little insight into my process.


If you enter “my creative process” into a web browser, most descriptions start with “I come up with an idea and then …,”

So let’s start before that. Where do I get the idea in the first place?

So many different sources in my life help me to generate ideas. Sometimes they have nothing to do with photography or art, but sometimes they do. Books, podcasts, traveling, art galleries, talking, laughing, and sitting doing nothing are all potential sources. The complete artistic concept doesn’t come spontaneously. Nor does it come to me when I sit in front of a blank page titled “Ideas.” In reality, half-ideas from the past merge with incomplete ideas in the future to create something innovative.


I keep an inspiration images folder containing art that I see online. Some of the images even make it into subfolders for different art projects I’m thinking about. I also maintain a list of visual ideas that I want to try (e.g., certain lighting) in Evernote. I make myself add 10 ideas a day to this list. For example, I might write, “I want to shoot something focused on women’s hair.” This hair thought will incubate 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 would be 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 story stem I already have and 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 stew in my project soup until it’s clear what I’m trying to do.


The 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 conversion to photography can be harder than you’d think. I will do a quick photo-manipulation with images from the Internet to see what I need to add, change, subtract.