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Introducing the "Inspired By" Series

A personal project with a big lesson

Inspired By:

Black - Dierks Bentley

How Did This Start?

I am inspired by so many things in life.

Glimmering light, water, music, fabric, movies... lots of things. One of my earliest interests in visual artistry actually came from the Forever And For Always music video by Shania Twain. I remember sitting at the table eating breakfast amongst all of the chaos from construction and renovations of one of my parents' many home improvement projects-- when the video caught my eye.

There, playing on the CMT morning music video block, I SAW it before I HEARD it. We were always Shania fans, so when I realized I knew the song already, I was even more excited.

I was pretty young, so her splashing around in the water and leaning against the boat, didn't really line up with anything I had ever thought about the song. But that seamed to captivate me more. These things don't go together-- yet somehow... go together.

Ever since, the game I've played in my mind is: How can I make that a photo? How can I involve this (whatever it is) in a shoot? How can I create a concept that fits this (whatever I'm loving) with things around me? Because, obviously, Bethelles Beach, New Zealand, where the video was shot is not a hop, skip, nor a jump from good ol' Clear Lake, Iowa.

"Inspired By"

I am in lots of photography groups on Facebook, and a common theme seems to be "so and so ripped off my work."


YIKES-- Part two of the concept forms.


In such a saturated industry, drawing inspiration can be challenging. When does being "inspired" turn into straight up copying, or ripping off another (and in this case CLEARLY and SEVERLEY more talented) artist than me (or you) start, and your own idea begin?

For me, drawing TRUE inspiration is a little technical. I make a physical list.

What about this tickled my fancy? What caught my eye first? What drew me to this? How can I break this down? What does this mean? What does this mean to ME? What does this mean to the ORIGINAL artist? If what it means to us, as creatives, differs, how can I make this concept my own?

For this song, Black, the first time I heard it, like really heard it... I was still daydreaming of going full time with photography. I was sitting at the car dealership I worked for while the guys were in a morning meeting, I was sitting at the front desk alone, and I thought, "Whoa... that is unique." The way the lyrics painted a picture for me even though I hadn't yet seen one. I am fairly certain this was back in 2016. That is why this project has such deep meaning to me. This has been a long time coming!

What I Saw For "Black"/What I THOUGHT It Meant

Sitting at the dealership desk, listening to this song, I saw in my head:

  •  LOTS of fabric
  • Fabric to create whimsy, but also sexy
  •  Contrary to the name, I saw light fabric and only one person
  •  I saw sort of an abstract, I've-got-to-get-(wherever)-but-can't vibe
  •  And one of the most bizarre things I could tell about my vision, is that there was no eye contact with the camera, and if there was, it was fleeting
  •  And mystery
I could ALWAYS tell this song was about a woman. A woman Dierks knew or not, I wasn't sure. I didn't know a lot about him... and in the grand scheme of things... I know nothing about him. I am not saying I've sat down and talked to him about it, as much as I would love to sit down and pick the brain of an artist!

But upon further research about him, his life and this song, I learned that "Black" is his wife's maiden name. Okay, cool... I can get on board with that. But there is SO MUCH more to it!

Check out this article about what it means to him and how this came about here:

Dierks Vs. Sid

I'm laughing/cringing at his header because it really makes it sound like I know him. Who am I? No one in his life, that's for sure.

After reading (or skimming) that article and watching the video linked near the top, I trust you can see it is ABUNDANTLY clear that our visions simply aren't the same. There really isn't a way they could be. The meaning behind this song is personal to him, and it will simply never resonate that way to me. It isn't about a 10 year marriage (to my 2) to me. It isn't about milestones celebrated, mourned, or missed to me. It is a beautiful vision, that hits a different part of my soul.

What I Came Up With

Many thanks to Jenna Bruckhoff for helping me create this project, and to Dierks Bentley for writing a beautiful song that inspired me to do so!

Make My World Go Black

*click, click*

- Sidney

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