Creativity is a big concept for a photo blog. We spend so much time fighting upgrade fatigue, learning new software, working out new techniques that we often have very little time for creativity. But just taking note that we need to think about creativity isn’t enough. How do we go about it?
Everyone goes about being creative differently. What works for me might not work for you, but I’m going to just share these thoughts on creativity with the hope they will help you concentrate on something other than the next lens you think you want to buy.
For me, creativity is about removing artificial limits. And I think most limits are self-imposed. More precisely, these limits are directly tied to low self-esteem. Now I know you might be thinking, what’s that have to do with creativity? In my experience lots.
We put boxes around ourselves and make decisions that hamper our growth because often, as artists, we don’t really believe in ourselves. How many times have you thought you were just faking it? Or have you ever just assumed that you weren’t good enough? These thoughts murder your creative spirit and you get started on a more creative path when you stop that behavior.
The creative process can start to open up once you just trust yourself. If you empower yourself to try something different and give yourself permission to fail, you become more creative. Don’t make the metrics of success or failure the guidelines by which you proceed. Instead make experimentation, expression and joy the metrics.
The second big point of contact for me is authenticity in my work. If you can start to look at authenticity, rather than originality, you will become more creative. I learned this concept best by listening to John Paul Caponigro. He was talking about other art forms and mentioned that in Asia for instance, artists don’t worry about coming up with something new, they work within an existing form and try to expand it. When I read the photographic forums, the younger photographers seem to beat their chests the loudest and proclaim their creativity simply because they did something “new.” Usually what they did wasn’t new at all, but rather new to them. But it doesn’t matter. Worrying about doing something new ends up stunting creative growth. Being creative does NOT require doing something new. It requires doing something that is authentically your real personal and true vision. If you take away anything from this blog post, I hope it’s that.
Lastly, creativity is about choices. The choices can often be based on a few dynamics like tension, juxtaposition, conflict and resolution. These are good tools in a creative environment. But sometimes, you learn most of your creative ideas from pure experimentation. Free-form music – called jamming often lets musicians come up with their best sounds. Writers use free-association and brainstorming to come up with their best words. Why shouldn’t photographers use their own brand of visual experimentation to find their own visual creativity?
To sum up – if you want to be more creative, start loving yourself enough to give yourself permission to fail. In fact, better yet, don’t even worry about winning or losing. Just DO.
Don’t focus on NEW – focus on authentic. Being original isn’t being new – it’s being you.
And riff. Go out there and jam. Try this and that and then invert it all. Go crazy. Do something you’ve never tried.
I wrote this post as much for myself as I did for you.