This falls under the category of, "It's okay to look stupid." When I first started shooting an older photographer offered up some sage and valuable advice. It took me years to earn the confidence to exercise that advice, but eventually it happened.
He told me, “When a client turns to you and asks, ‘What do you think? Got any ideas?’” Your first impulse is to blurt out something, anything, so you don’t look clueless or lack imagination. “Don’t bullshit ‘em,” he said. “They’ll know it and that just makes it worse. Just tell ‘em you don’t know what the f _ _ _ you’re doing."
Now, before you think this guy’s crazy, think about it.
I’ve always subscribed to the notion that the person who raises their hand first when asked a question, doesn’t necessarily have the best or right answer, just the first answer. I’d rather pause a moment and allow the creative juices to flow, hopefully conjuring up a unique idea or solution, rather than feel pressured or obligated to come back with the first idea off the top of my head, and maybe a bad idea at that.
It took years, but I finally got to a place (after leaving a trail of mistakes along the way) where I was comfortable enough to admit to a client that I didn't have anything up my sleeve and was making it up I went along. It actually is a weight off your shoulders. It does help to have a wise and gutsy art director or client who understands your perspective and is willing to play along and experiment and "feel" your way through the shoot. Great things happen when you just let them.
By doing this, you’ve also opened the door to collaboration. Now the client feels more comfortable sharing their ideas. This can be good and bad, but the more ideas, usually the better.
So, the next time someone looks at you and asks, “Any ideas?” Don’t be afraid to look stupid and shrug your shoulders. It may be the smartest thing you’ve done all day.