Thursday, July 30, 2009

Focus On: Launching Creativity

For many years of my life, I operated on some sort of auto-pilot, some kind of corporate existence which kept certain parts of my brain from functioning. Perhaps this was due to necessity. Now that I've allowed myself to live a life that incorporates and embraces creativity, it's been liberating and fun and joyous. But maintaining a fun and joyful existence takes work! How do we keep our creative juices flowing? How do we live in the real world -- work, family, kids, traffic, garbage nights, soccer coaching, Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- and manage to add to our photographic portfolios?

I was asked this recently, and I claim to be no expert on the topic: How do you develop and maintain some artistic capabilities and an artistic eye? Admittedly, it's a struggle for me, just as are the technicalities of photography. But I did manage to come up with a very short list of ideas on how to create, maintain and sustain creativity when it comes to photography. I keep it taped to my coffeemaker. Here it is, and it could certainly use your tips and inspirations:

a) Just get out and take lots of photographs. Pretend you are using film (if you aren't already), and force yourself to shoot an entire "roll of film" by taking 24 or 36 photographs in the same place. Pick a small place, like a garden or a street corner, or your own backyard, or the most mundane place you come upon. Get close and shoot macro. Get far away and shoot wide angle.

death of a sales pitch by randolph

b) Make some time to spend with yourself just looking at things in a different way -- get some books of great photographers' works. Spend time in a library or booksore. Go to an art museum or a gallery and look at the photographs, the drawings and the sculptures. Try to designate some time every week to do this. Consider this time as important as a dentist appointment, going to the gym or doing our laundry. It is!

c) Use the edges of your viewfinder.

Secret Society No. 4 by eleanors

d) Get a "toy" camera, like a Holga or a Diana. They are cheaply constructed, simple film cameras that have light leaks and other little personality quirks, and they will delight you and drive you crazy. They use 120 film, and they are lots of fun.
e) Take a course in photographic composition or the art of seeing at your local university. For the moment, forget all the technical stuff. Forget being a gearhead. Not only do you get to take a class from a knowledgeable instructor, from an artist, but you also have the opportunity to meet and spend time with other photographers.

grunge gothic crow by gothicrow

f) Use your dreams to visualize what you want to shoot with your camera.

g) Remember this quote from Diane Arbus: "I have never taken a picture I've intended. They're always better or worse." Make it your mantra.

coming down to cut you open by Appledale

A world traveler and self-taught photographer, look for Ann wandering around city streets and tromping through woods and hiking trails with her camera. After owning an international transportation business for many years, Ann has found her creative spirit again through the lens. See more at Ann's shop and her website, and say hello to her on her blog too.


UrbanJunkies/zuppaartista said...

wonderful post ann! great tips to get any artist out of a rut! i love going to museums to get inspired & to daydream. and i love the idea of posting these nearby!
thanks for sharing! :)

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Great post! I found myself unexpectedly in a local art museum the other day. I was amazed how light and creative I felt after enjoying some beautiful watercolors!

gigi said...

Ann, thanks so much for always creating consistent quality for the blog and for all your writing efforts. Once again a wonderfully written post with plenty of food for thought.


Oh Honestly Erin said...

This was a wonderful post, Ann, and I'm very honored that you chose one of my photos to accompany it, and on my birthday no less!


Pam said...

Ann - What an inspiring post!