Friday, 6 January 2012

Creativity: Permission to fail sir?

"The D4 is announced. I am convinced more than ever that my photography will improve in 2012 by investing in me and my passions than in gear."

I tweeted this today. It was, as they say, a wee 'light bulb moment'. Let me explain why.

In my previous post I sorted out my top 10 'advice to myself'. The top 4 were:

Know who you are.
Embrace life. It helps creativity.
Always have art in your world.
Shoot what interests you, your passions. Find your voice.

These sentiments mirrored something I remember reading. It was Scott Bourne's free e-book 'Visions' and, as ever, the most obvious, common sense advice can sometimes resonate the most and Scott's words of wisdom kept coming back to mind.

He suggested that when it comes to creativity, most limits are self imposed. It can hamper growth.

Try new stuff and fail with a purpose. Give yourself permission to fail so you can learn from it and eventually move on to a new level of competence. Experiment, jam, brainstorm - just as musicians, artists and writers do, so why not in photography?

Make experimentation, expression, authenticity, storytelling and joy the measurements of your success. 

To tell a story in a picture I think you have to have a story to tell. You have to have an interest, a passion in what you're photographing. You need to know and understand why you're making the image. You must avoid trying to be 'new' or taking a shot to please others. You have to be you.  It is therefore important to know who you are. What moves you, what angers you, what saddens you. Be engaged with life, embrace it and be a person you would like to know.

You may be thinking, "I know all this already"- well, so do I, but in 2011 I felt I didn't stay true to this due to distractions like gear, social networking and other 'side-shows'. In 2012, I'm going to try to make images that are authentic, tell a story and convey some passion.

Am I talking rubbish? Do you think differently and approach your photography in a different way? (I am, of course, excluding work done for clients which have a different set of criteria, often defined by the client.) Let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Taking My Advice: A ‘Top 10’

I started this photography blog in March 2009. The entries ended up being more sporadic than I intended. My excuse, as always, was ‘lack of time’. I’m a full time head of History at a secondary school, which is certainly no 9-5 job (or 9-4 as the dumb media portray), so it is usually a genuine excuse. I like being a teacher and will always give it my full attention. So how can I also satisfy the strong need I have at present to immerse myself in my photography much more than at present? 
One answer is to be more focussed on what it is I want to achieve with my photography. I have no time to go back over ground already covered. That said, I will go back to ground covered but with a clearer, more purposeful eye. I may in fact, keep going back to one place, to one spot this year. I now see that, as well as perfecting my technical skills that bit more, I can only move on creatively if I thoroughly explore my immediate environment, my homeland. That will entail, not only devouring more historical knowledge, but being more aware of the current economic, political and social situation. 
So, to start 2012 and to make sure I don’t keep going back over old ‘thinking’ any more, I have made a list of the advice and intentions I have already stated in my blog posts in an attempt to keep me moving forward as a photographer and a more creative person.
  1. Know who you are.
  2. Embrace life. It helps creativity.
  3. Always have art in your world.
  4. Shoot what interests you, your passions. Find your voice.
  5. Don’t be concerned about what others think of your work. 
  6. That said, engage in conversations with other photographers. Network.
  7. Always be learning. Get out of comfort zones.
  8. Remember why you got into photography in the first place.
  9. Keep on top of the ‘business’ side of things.
  10. Be disciplined about archiving your work.
I’ll leave the final words to Bruce Springsteen who said this in his late twenties:
“ you get older, you can end up in a life in stasis, shackled by memories and hurt. Old habits die hard and patterns repeat themselves and you can unintentionally let past disappointments effect your present and it can be difficult to move forward.”