When I was aged 10, I hankered over a red electric guitar, displayed with relish at the local second hand shop. It was on sale for £11. Goodness knows what the equivalent price would be today, but by doing chores – for money of course, saving from birthdays and no doubt a promissory note along the way, I bought the guitar, a Watkins Rapier 22, in red.
We’ve all recounted the stories told by many about good money being spent on lavish presents for children, only to have said children abandon the presents in favour or the cardboard box the gift was packaged in. The children’s imagination and creativity came to the fore at these times and took over from the obvious. My Watkins Rapier 22 was my cardboard box, allowing my imagination to improvise and create music – well, some may call it that!
I still have that guitar, along with a few others now, and I still spend hours putting notes together, not always in the right order mind, but that’s a combination of my choice and lack of ability. Yes I listen to other guitarists and am no doubt swayed by their erudition, but what comes out of my amp is my own vibrato; my own order of notes; my own creation.
The same may be said of creativity in photography. Here are my views on that esoteric subject.
Fellow photographers who run workshops concur with me in that many workshop clients are involved in IT, they love this digital age. I’ve asked, and many extol the virtues of attending a workshop to increase their creative skills; to learn to see images. Conversely, on the novice based PhotoTrek workshops where nowadays women form the majority, there appears to me to be an inbuilt freedom to explore their creative side; an imagination and ability to visualise the final image. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting in any way a gender divide, I am just reporting my observations. I am also not saying that IT consultants of either gender have no creative skills, far from it. What they tell me is that the technical aspects of photography come easy to them, or relatively so, it is the creative aspect that they feel the need to work on.
Creativity in photography or indeed any endeavour for that matter means to me, having the ability to have an open mind. Photographically, it starts with the eyes and seeing what you are looking at. Changes of texture, light, colour, tone with all the nuances that exist; identifying patterns or shapes within an overall conglomeration of subjects; changing ones focus to pick out one thing as opposed to another which may be more common; or altering your position from the subject matter to creative an alternative perspective. Most photographers I meet know this. They have read the articles such as this, read the books, nodded in agreement as they read the pertinence of an erstwhile doyen of the art. Putting it into practice for some is more difficult.
My advice on the matter is simple. Many of you having attending PhotoTreks or workshops will have heard it all before. Less is more. Think outside the box. Break down the overall into smaller bites and spend more time looking. It is easier said than done. To add to your theoretical knowledge, take in again what you have just read. Print it out if necessary and take it on your next photographic jaunt and try to put it into practise. Don’t forget that like improvisation in music, nothing is laid down, anything goes.
Having a guiding hand helps of course, but I would hate to bang on about my practical courses, especially as I am introducing some specific creative photography workshops. Nor will I extol the virtues of my One to One or Two to One tuition days where tuition is bespoke to your own requirements, so I won’t.
To finish, don’t forget that like improvisation in music, nothing is laid down, anything goes. And again like improvisation, the more you practise, the better you can improvise.