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Creativity and the Photographer

Some thoughts…

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.

Mamiya 7II / 80mm / Velvia 50 Film

Mamiya 7II / 80mm / Velvia 50 Film

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Why Photography?

What is it about photography which draws me into its real with such gusto and passion.
I sometimes ponder this question because I feel like I need to find my own answer.  Yet a satisfactory answer always seams out of reach to me.  I feel as if im searching for something along my photographic  journey. Most people will not understand and some might think me odd.  However I think it very normal. In fact I think most people search for answers in life. Some find it in religion or philosophy, some in helping others, some people find it in careers and work, others search yet never find and a few get lost along the way in alcohol and drugs. Yet many people, perhaps most people,  search for something. For some reason my search has taken me down a path of photographing natures landscapes and beautify. We are all different.
Photographing a landscape brings a sense of balance into my life. It for fills many needs in me;  a need to build and create something,  a need to be closely in touch with those things in life which are real and natural;  I think it is a counter balance to what can be a  very artificial and unnatural world in which we live and work. Photography fills a need in me to escape and have time-out… time for me. It for fills a yearning to wander, explore and discover. It for fills a need in me to say “Hey, our world is not all bad”  in fact it is a very beautiful and good world in which to live in. It for fills a need to leave a mark on the world after I am gone, that somehow my beautiful photographs are evidence that I was here and I had something to say and to share with others. My life is not just about work and play, there was something more.
Sometimes I look at people I know,  who to me appear to be very shallow and have no depth in their life. They appear to be happily living lives I see as very superficial. One side of me is envious. However I could never live a life so wafer thin. I need depth, it is my keel and my compass.

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.

 

Mamiya 7II / Velvia film / Canada, British Columbia.

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Becoming a photographer: Learning To See – Part 2

This is part 2 ~ Learning to See. 

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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.

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Becoming a photographer ~ part 1: the struggle to see

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.

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