The secret sauce for extraordinary images
Has Creativity as its main ingredient
This is no surprise since the very definition of Creativity
Implies ideas & results that are – New & Original
New & Original are the antithesis of Ordinary
The 7th in a series on fine art photography
How to make images that are creative?
Channeling Monet (Previously – Monet Made Me Do It)
Panning camera during long exposure through rain covered windshield
A little bit creative 😉
In the last post we looked at common definitions of creativity.
Creativity – some definitions
- A mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts
- Being able to “think outside of the box”; taking a new perspective
- Original or unique thought
- Combining old ideas in new ways
- Using things that are available for all to see but making something unique from them
Common definition themes – New, original ideas (not better tools)
How are the thoughts contained in these definitions translated to photography?
1st – Master your craft’s skills (camera and compositional skills)
There ARE NO SHORTCUTS – maybe 10,000 hours
Read this article for more – Masters Don’t Tweak
Thinking “outside” the box first requires knowing the boundaries of the box
2nd – Learn the “rules” for craftsmanship and composition
AND – recognize that there are NO RULES, just guidelines
A “new perspective” requires knowing the old as a start
3rd – Here’s the punch line – using your mastered skills & rules only leads to well crafted and composed ordinary images
Look at the creativity definitions again
How can you possibly apply the same “rules” that everyone else knows & uses and not make anything other than a competent but otherwise ordinary image??
This is the image where a judge remarks – “If I had a dollar for every time I saw that image, I’d be a millionaire.”
It took me a year of competing to understand
The world doesn’t need yet another mountain reflected in a pristine lake – even if you do for your wall.
There’s nothing wrong with that trophy image but recognize that the prize goes to the artist who
Makes an extraordinary image of an ordinary subject – and not vice versa
You need to apply new & original ideas to your image making
To make extraordinary images requires taking risks & breaking the rules – this is the first step toward creativity
The artist “feels” through creative vision how to use Craftsmanship and Composition in combination to strike an emotional chord
the rest of us stumble along applying “rote rules” like the rule of thirds and striving for “perfect” exposure, focus & color, etc.
The artist “feels” the exposure she wants – which may not be the one the camera’s meter “gives”
Craftsmanship mastery enters here – the artist knows how to “bend the camera to his will” – not vice versa
Correct exposure is the one you want & not necessarily the one the camera gives
The artist senses what should be in focus & what shouldn’t and makes it happen
Ditto camera mastery again
The artist knows the difference between artistic intent and “operator error” and
That when the captured image isn’t “perfect” knowledgeable viewers recognize the difference
When you “break a rule” really break it, don’t just bend it a little
This applies to both craftsmanship & composition
The artist can get to the “heart of the matter” through various craft & compositional techniques – working the subject as necessary for as long as it takes
The artist knows when not to take the shot – not just because of poor light, but because the subject just doesn’t “feel right”
Herein lies the unteachable magic – feeling & vision
Can creativity be taught?
Only to a degree
You can learn to be more creative (but that’s all relative to how creative you were to start)
A good way to start learning photographic creativity is to make at least one image every day
That breaks at least one “rule” of craftsmanship or composition
Example – we are taught to hold the camera steady
Make images with the camera in motion – maybe while jumping up & down
How do you think images like the following were “invented”?
Camera Vertical Pan
Camera Toss #477 by Matthew G. Schmidt
If you limit your image making to safe predictable techniques you won’t make any progress. I was surprised that an acquaintance was surprised that “many of Ed’s images are experiments and not attempts at finished captures”. You’ve got to experiment. Einstein’s definition of insanity was – Doing the same thing over & over and expecting the results to change. I may be insane but not by Albert’s definition. 😉
If you’re truly interested in creativity, there’s nothing more this dumb old engineer can tell you as it relates to art. Some of my most creative engineering ideas (some of which you now use daily in your internet lives; my work lives on ;-)) came to me in the shower. Relax and just let your mind wonder (and wander) and something interesting just might come.
Trying to focus on a single solution to a problem isn’t as effective trying to imagine multiple different approaches –
The old saying that There’s more than 1-way to skin a cat applies.
Or ask yourself – is there a better way to….?
Or simply – I want to do “x” differently, what are my options?
This is why “working a subject” is so important. Often it takes me 10-15 minutes just to “connect” with the subject. Past that point, you could set off a bomb nearby and not get my attention. When I’m really connected, it’s almost a “religious experience”.
Most of all – grab your camera and use it.
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