I am wondering, what is creativity? And, what can we do to become more creative photographers?
Of course, there are no easy formulas. And this short post can not even start to answer such profound questions. However, I think there are a few ideas which can help us. Let me share two. But first, some context.
Over the last few years I have been on a journey into photography. Like many people, I have been trying to discover and develop my creative side. I have always enjoyed building, crafting and making things, particularly photographs. And while these are often seen as ‘creative’ activities, the simple act of making something, does not, by default, mean we have been or are creative. Making things can be very functional, lacking in any creativity.
Many people speak of creativity using nice woolly words like soul, mood, passion, feeling and spark. And yes, these are all great words to wrap around the concept of creativity, however they are not particularly helpful in giving us some real goalposts to aim at.
For me, creativity implies that we have created or added ‘something extra’. It is that bit of ‘magic’ which will occasionally take what we make and transport it to a special place.
Here are two things I have learnt which have help me to understand what creativity is and how to find it.
What is it about photography which draws us into its realm with such passion.
I ponder this question often. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I need to find my own answers. You might like to share your own thoughts below.
So far, a satisfactory answer always seems out of reach to me. I feel as if I am searching for something unknown along my photographic journey; that the journey has some kind of purpose.
Many people will not understand and some might think me odd. However, I think it is very normal.
This is part 2 ~ Learning to See.
Learning To See
Strange as it may sound, one of the limitations we have as photographers, are our eyes.
Our eyes are highly functional. They simply see what is in front of us. Therefore, the temptation to photograph only what we can physically see is very powerful. In fact, this is what most new photographers assume they need to do; you see something nice, so you photograph it. Simple.
The results as I discovered, are often sterile photocopier images; nice pretty pictures, well exposed, but nothing more.
My early attempts at photography were frustrating in this regard, but it lead directly to the most significant step I took in learning how to become a photographer; a realisation that I was not seeing things in the same way that experienced photographers saw them.
Part 1: The struggle to see
I remember being disappointed at my early attempts at photography. I would look at my work, and my heart would sink.
Now, looking back, I can understand.
In those early days, what I was producing was a functional record of my day out with a camera. It was as if a photocopier had just copied what was in front of my eyes. I saw something nice, so I would take a picture of it. Simple.
The result was nice pretty pictures, well exposed, but there was not a lot more. I felt uncomfortable because I sensed that something was missing.
What I know now is that a ‘photocopier’ had taken those shots. I had been, not much more than a courier, transporting a camera to a location and then letting my camera do all the work. I had thought I was a Photographer! In reality, I had no idea what that meant.