As I am getting back into the swing of things, I am having to cover a lot of old ground. Like pushing my self to be creative, to even pick up the camera. I have lost some of the self confidence I had only a six months ago.
I get a block if I feel like I am going to shoot something that has been done before, like it won’t be real if I am not creating something completely unique. I have to remind my self that it doesn’t matter if someone else has something that looks similar, it is creating that is the point.
Sometimes start to shoot something then I stop and think, “no, that’s dumb”. I am so close, all I have to do is actuate the shutter. But I get a creative block, and I have to remind my self that it doesn’t matter what other people think.
Mostly though what I have to remind my self is to get out and shoot. I will never shoot anything good while just sitting around.
After a busy fall and Christmas season it is time for me to focus on this project again. The last several months I have been so busy that it was about all that I could do to post once per week. Now that I have my time and attention freed up, I want to get back to work improving my eye. To start, I need to remind myself that the photo that works is not always the one I set out to capture.
I took this photo in the fall of 1996 for my high school photography class. I think the assignment was “an action photo”. My youngest brother and a neighbor obliged me and this is what I ended up with.
This is the print I turned in for that assignment, the only touching up I have done is removing dust and other spots from the scan. This was shot with a Minolta SR-T 101 @ 50mm and probably Tri-X 400.
In an effort to simplify, one thing that I do not spend a lot of time in is post processing. Of course, I would like to learn to use Lightroom to it’s full capability, but for now, I have enough going on learning to take decent photos. I could spend hours on one photo in post processing (and I have) but since I really have no idea what I am doing, I am never sure that I couldn’t have gotten equivalent results by using the LR presets.
One day I was looking through a book of photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson and I learned that he never processed his own photos. While this is old news to many people, I couldn’t believe that some like HCB could trust half of his creative process to someone else! Then I thought, if he can give up control, why can’t I? So I did, and I haven’t looked back.
After I import my photos, I select all and convert them all to the same B&W preset that comes standard with Lightroom. Then in the grid view I am looking at what I think of as the digital version of a proof sheet, and I can go from there. Sometimes I will experiment with some of the other B&W presets, but for the most part I have one that I like and I stick with that. I will adjust the tone curve a little, maybe some noise reduction if I am shooting at 800, but I try to keep it really simple.
I feel that by placing this additional limitation on myself that I have really freed myself up to be more creative, in addition of course to the amount of time I free up by not parking myself in front of the computer. By shooting with one preset in mind it is like shooting with film, you can’t change mid roll, everything will come out in the end with the same treatment. I also get to know this “film” better the more I shoot this way so I can anticipate the results while I am shooting.
It has been a very busy few weeks for me, not leaving a lot of time for photography, or at least not as much as I would like. This week in particular I have felt like I am in a creative vacuum. This is my eighth week on the “lines” theme, and I am starting to feel it. Of course that was the whole point, to shoot something so much that I am forced to see it in a different way.
So it comes down to making time. It isn’t anything new or earth shattering, and I have written about it here several times already, but it is a lesson I keep learning time and again. Make time, even if it is only for a few photos. Make time to look at what is around you, and you see differently.
Continuing on with the “line” theme (well, loosely anyway) I decided to change things up this week and shot mostly at a wide normal focal length; 8.8mm on the LX3.
I have really enjoyed shooting the last few weeks. Restricting myself to only shooting only what I can see as a “line” has actually freed me to be more creative than I could otherwise be.
Of course all that goes back to the idea that constraints enhance creativity. If you still haven’t read A Lesser Photographers Manifesto, you really should. (Just be aware that his site is sometimes hard to connect to.)
So for now I will continue to look for lines, at least until I can think of something else to shoot.
We all want to become better at this craft. So why is it that so many of us only take photos when we “feel inspired”? If you follow A Lesser Photographer then you may have already read this.
Inspiration doesn’t “strike.” Inspiration is scheduled.
I would add that inspiration is a process. Think about the times you are “struck” with inspiration. Is it really that something comes to you out of the blue? Maybe that happens sometimes, but more often than not isn’t it that you are already thinking in a creative mindset? You see/read/hear something that sticks in your mind and the creative juice is already flowing by the time that inspiration “strikes”. So why can’t that be intentional?
When I decide that I am only going to take photos when I “feel like it”, I don’t do much. The details of life, what it takes to get through a day, are not conducive to creativity (and neither is trolling dpreview to see what has been announced at Photokina).
So when I don’t “feel like it”, I have to make a concentrated effort to begin the process of becoming inspired. Looking at it like this, there is really no difference between inspiration and creative block.