The Creativity Series is a spicy selection of blog posts in which I discuss my insights on all things creative–with a focus on photography, but with nuggets of gold that can be instantly applied to any creative process. Take comfort in knowing that these words come from a girl who spent hours painstakingly typing lists of made-up colors (Putrescent Purple, my favorite!), writing pointless novels in pencil, and crying when the cluttered closet had to be cleansed–aka your resident creativity expert. Enjoy!
See more from The Creativity Series here.
If you’re like me, you find yourself spending wayy too long on Pinterest and calling it “work.”
Or looking at photography blogs and convincing yourself it’s productive.
Or scrolling through twitter checking out all the cool photographer’s tips,
Or reading some nobody’s article about the 10 secrets to great photos,
and on, and on.
Aight. Gettin’ Real Time: downloading e-books about photography, reading articles about photography, looking at other photographers’ work, drooling over so-and-so’s lighting, et cetera–does not touch your bottom line. Doesn’t get you more clients or more experience. Doesn’t actually affect your bottom line as a business–because it’s not taking photographs.
Inspiration is SO, so important–and I don’t want to discount that. I’m saying it’s far too easy to confuse inspiration with perspiration and expect automatic awesomeness because you’ve read every photo-tip article you can get your cute little hands on.
only fastest way to get better at photography is to photograph. A lot. In all kinds of conditions, light, with all kids of subjects. BAM. Secret’s out. Don’t kid yourself thinking you need to read everything/get a formal photography education/buy x, y, or z before you can be a photographer–that’s the beauty (and the pain) of this art; anyone can pick up a camera. Anyone. And that’s really the best answer–pick up the camera and SHOOT, for goodness sake!
But let’s talk about inspiration, because without it all that shooting would be pointless. (ha! punny!) So how do you approach it? And what do you do when you’re stuck?
On inspiration: Pinterest is not the only or the ultimate. There are incredible resources all over the web–I recommend creativelive and Jasmine Star for starters, although there are hundreds and thousands of others–photographic and otherwise.
But stopping at the limits of the internet would be a shame. There’s something wonderful, beautiful, and organic about using everything you do to inspire and inform your art–be it food styling, painting, decorating, writing…and in the “real world” form. Physically going to a bookstore and leafing through books is a billion (uhh..yeah. scientifically so.) times more inspiring than scrolling through titles online.
We are humans with flesh and guts meant for living, and creative processes are about speaking to that depth in other people.
Isn’t that what we’re aching for when we turn to books, movies, or photographs?
How arrogant is it of us to think that we can consume with one sense everything there is to know about such a sensual, physical process as creating something?
So, then. Read books. Watch movies. Go to the library and sift through children’s books, encyclopedias (uhh..what are those?, right?), novels. Anything and everything can inspire–which is also why it can be addicting, and hard to get your bum off the couch to actually do something. And the other thing? You can’t just do these things and call it work or inspiration automatically, because everyone does these things and not everyone is an artist, and no one is an artist like you.
How to make it worthwhile:
1. A journ.
(short for journal, for those of you not familiar with my personalized abbreves.) Take notes on what you see–why is that music so earth-shattering? What is it about the photo that makes it magic? How was that sentence constructed such that it made you cry? Technically, this isn’t really inspiration at all; it’s dissecting inspiration. Which leads us to…
2. Give yourself homework.
Photo assignments, writing assignments, anything that gives you a specific direction to go when you’re stuck and you’re willing to clean every surface of your house to immaculateness to avoid being creative. Have a go-to jar from which you can snag starters when your juices have run dry.
Sometimes even a jar brimming with delightful assignments and prompts won’t give you what you need. Sometimes, you just have to take a break.
This is not a break for slackers; it is a break for artists–for the best creative minds to set foot in the world. (CHa, I’m talkin to you!) So our breaks cannot be lounging naps and sneaky snacks; yes, overachieving people of the planet, even our breaks are going to be productive.
Here’s the key: take a break from your particular brand of creativity and do something else creative.
This can take any form your pretty little head imagines, but one of my favorite creativity breaks is writing nonsensical poetry. It’s very simple, I will show you. All you have to do is write a stream of consciousness (fanciness for whatever you’re thinking), insert some line breaks, and you’ve got it. The process may not be magical, but the results always reveal something to me and get my juices flowing.
Ceiling tiles, pocked with air holes
Is breathing what they’re for?
A plum gurgles in my stomach
maybe it also would like a breath.
Try, then, creating a photograph/painting/story out of your nonsense poem. Or, taping it to your mirror and finding new goodness in it every day. MY, my, the possibilities are limitless. So go on, get inspired and get creative!
Do you have a question you’d like Brooke Schultz, your favorite crazy color namer and lifestyle photographer to discuss in The Creativity Series? I’d love to hear from you! Throw me a comment, or shoot me an email at brookebee at gmail dot com.
ALSO. I’d love to see the results of your nonsensical poetry experiments–put them in the comments, peeps!