Random Thougts about Creativity and Photography

As mentioned before, I learned from theatre improvisers that creativity is in our subconscious mind and our conscious mind might be required for the technical side of art but is entirely uncreative. Creativity is always there in any human but we can not force or control it, we need to let it happen and learn not to jam it with our conscious mind.

Here are some random thoughts about factors affecting creativity in photography.

Expectations 

In recent weeks I was not very satisfied with my pictures. Last I spent a week in Singapore photo hunting with a few good pictures. Upon my return I had a day off in Hongkong and had a walk around the city. On this day I had more good pictures than in the whole week shooting before! Why? I think the difference is very subtle but important. During this whole week I wanted and expected to shoot great pictures. Of course I also wanted to shoot great pictures on this one day but had no great expectations. And the expectations made all the difference. If I do not expect much I am more grateful for whatever I see and this makes me more receptive. The high expectations and sense of entitlement kill openness and lead to trying too hard.

Similarly I noticed since a Long time that the „On the way home -pictures“ from a shooting session are often amongst the very best. Then I expect nothing and am just open.

Alcohol

After two or more beers I go shooting without shame or fear and it flows. In no time I return with hundreds of pictures. But exactly this lack of emotions and the lack of struggle makes them awful. Even after minor alcohol consumption the pictures are flat and shallow. I can see in them this drunken grin.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is the single most underrated factor in photography. After all I can shoot more when I walk 20KM than when I collapse after 5KM and often I can only get a good picture if I climb up some stairs.

And if I am exhausted my mind is not free to be creative.

Photographic gear is heavy and unwieldy. Back and neck pain are common amongst photographers. We can add foot pain from walking Long distances in poor shoes. This is similar, if I am limping around with sore neck, back and feet my mind is to busy with discomfort to be creative.

Equipment 

Each camera and each lense has a „soul“ and distinct character. I use an Olympus OM-D 5.2 with a universal zoom equivalent to 28-300mm and a Nikon D850 with the 16-35mm and a 70-300mm.

The Olympus is much smaller and lighter and with the universal zoom encourages me to be spontaneous and to try new things. But also it encourages sloppiness.

The Nikon enforces more meticulous work and consideration.

I have the Olympus with me at all times, even on my way to work or the supermarket. But if I go out photo shooting I usually take the Nikon

Creativity, Spontaneity and Art are not the same

Creativity is the basis of art, there is no art without creativity. In photography creativity mainly means being open and seeing the pictures which are already there. This includes spontaneity and is comparable to improvised theatre or music. But artistic photography is not necessarily spontaneous! If I see something which could give a great picture, there might be poor light, other disturbing factors or I might make a mistake. But nothing prevents from going there again and trying it again. Even street scenes can be planned. I can of course anticipate what will happen in certain places or situations. I do this all the time. I also thought of hiring actors or models to recreate scenes which I could not get for whatever reason. It is perfectly legitimate. Only the quality of the picture counts.

The creative act or perception of such planned shots happened before the picture was taken and the shooting is not at all spontaneous.