Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Vigorous Pursuit of Creativity

An Ocean of Images, Monetary Gain, and Personal Satisfaction
Few things can be as rewarding for a photographer as the vigorous pursuit of creativity (love that phrase...read it in the latest issue of CA). Creativity is key to creating work that stands apart from the vast ocean of images and subsequently has value both in terms of monetary gain and in terms of personal satisfaction. Creativity is also extremely important in conducting business itself, in finding ways to get your work completed, in finding ways to get your work seen, and even in finding ways to get paid!

Maximizing Creativity
With the importance of creativity, the question arises: How can we increase and maximize our creative propensity? Is there a way to nurture and grow this all-important quality? If you Google that question, the answer is yes; and there are many theories about just how to do that. I have tried a number of approaches and will share the ones that seem to work for me.

Intention: The Most Important Step
The first and most important step to building your creative powers is to have the intent. While I have my doubts about a lot of new age practices, I do believe there is something very powerful about writing things down. For me, the first step towards creative empowerment is writing down my intention to build my creativity.  I go through phases where I will write down an affirmation that "I am a creative powerhouse with an infinite supply of new and potent ideas", or something like that. OK, I know it sounds a bit silly, but I do believe it works! Even better, write down how many ideas you will come up with. The more specific your ideas the better, even to the point of allocating ideas for images and ideas for building your business. I have to admit, I am a little sporadic with this process, but when I find I am running low on ideas, it is my first step to getting back on track.

Creativity, Judgment, and a Master List
Creativity is a muscle. It gets stronger with exercise. So the next step is to start coming up with ideas. Remember, judgment is the enemy of creativity. Don't judge your ideas yet, just come up with them, and write them down. I guarantee you that if you don't write your ideas down they will slip away, just like dreams do. I keep a notepad and pen with me at all times to record my ideas whether they are spontaneous or otherwise. I can't tell you how many times I have learned this lesson over and over again! Keep a master list of ideas that you never throw away. An idea that at first seems great can seem really stupid the next day, yet a week, a month, or even a year later it can rise to the top again, or generate another idea. I have learned to keep even my silliest ideas on paper (or in pixels).  Sometimes ideas that you just can't figure out how to do, or how to do economically, suddenly reveal themselves as simple executions when viewed after a lengthy time period.

Look at the Opposite, or Add a Twist
Another favorite exercise of mine is to view an interesting photo or image, mine or someone else's, it doesn't really matter, and see if I can either do the opposite, or add some twist to it. For the image above I pondered the hot topic of social media. The buzz is about the benefits of connectivity and visibility through social media networks. I made a conscious decision to explore the opposite of the benefits, to look at the dark side if you will. What came to mind was the possibility of having a lot of people pissed off at you. How could I illustrate that? Angry people’s faces, looking out at you from inside the computer, from the social media site; that would not only communicate the downside of social media, but also infuse it with humor as well.  It makes for a great counterpoint to the positive images of social media  that I have already created. It is surprising how often looking at the opposite side of an idea can take you in a new creative direction.

Rising above the Crowd
Creativity is your ticket to rising above the crowd (sourcing). It is something you can strengthen and cultivate. Set the intention to be more creative, practice coming up with ideas, write your ideas down, add a new twist or look for the opposites and give your ideas time to mature. If you make creativity a constant part of your life both your career, and your life as a whole, will improve.

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