While on the road living it up in the team RV, we pounced on Brian in his “pimp chair” to ask one of your questions! What’s more important, instinct or planning?

The super simple answer is… both! But let’s elaborate a little further…

Basically if you have no plan and you rely 100% on instinct there’s a very good chance that you’re going to miss something.

Whatever it is that you’re doing, both instinct and planning are interrelated and excellent skills to have with you on the day. Take photography for example, if you approach a shoot with no clear plan of what you want to achieve on the day laid out ahead of time, you’re not going to have thought through everything properly and you may end up in a position where you may not have made the best decision at the time that you could have. Even though it’s great sometimes to go with your instinct and change your concept halfway through a shoot if you’re not feeling it and want to try another idea, going into it with no plan at all about what kind of shots you’re looking to get could turn out to be a waste of your time if you walk away with nothing to work with after making poorly thought out decisions on the day.

No player survives first contact with the enemy

But on the other hand, no matter how well you plan something you cannot predict human behaviour and how they’re going to react to the direction you want to go in. As described in one of the Army’s famous sayings (above), no matter how much planning goes into it, it will not survive it’s first contact with whatever it happens to be, so no matter how smart you are or how much you think things are going to happen on the day, it will never play out the way you think it will. You may have a brilliantly creative idea in mind for a shoot that you’re really excited about, but on the day it could turn out that your model isn’t comfortable with it or you find that it’s not looking as awesome as you thought it would. That’s where instinct kicks in, and you have to learn how to roll with the punches when things start going wrong – because sometimes you’ll find that they will.

Being able to sense those changes as they’re happening and adapt to them and recognise the tactics you may need to change, the planning you may need to change, even recognising the new opportunities that are presented to you because your plan has gone totally awry, is really really important.

Going with your instinct when things start to go wrong for you, despite all your planning, is when you’ll start to come up with new ideas to try instead or how to use what you’ve already started shooting and work it into something new. That’s the skill that will really help you be successful with whatever you want to do – whether it’s a photoshoot, setting up your own business, or any other aspect of working in the creative industry – because if you fail to go with your instinct when things start going downhill and clutch desperately onto your original plan without any flexibility, that’s when you start missing opportunities and how everything eventually goes off the rails. BUT not having that plan in the first place leaves you in even more of a tricky situation when you approach things completely unprepared and flustered.

So there you have it. In order to be successful in your chosen field, you have to be able to put together a clearly thought out plan, but you also need to be able to trust your instinct when things start to feel a little off. Both skills are so, so important, and even Brian will tell you that as someone who loves to fly by instinct, he knows that he comes unravelled quite regularly if he fast-tracks or glosses over the planning phase of things because he wants to just start setting things in motion without a clear plan. If you put that thought into it you’re going to have some ideas about what your reaction should be when you start getting those instinctual responses about what’s happening with regards to the execution of your plan.