Inspiration and Creativity

Yesterday I posted What is the height? to talk about a potential project I may start working on. In there I reference a photographer I really admire: David LaChapelle. David is one of a few living photographers I know of and admire because the work he produces requires a lot of artistic inspiration and creativity, something I do not have. I am very logical and try to keep my train of thought very Cartesian (which I’m not always successful at), but that goes against all that is creative.

Creativity is something that strikes you, it isn’t something that you can produce (although there are methods to triggering it). People who don’t have a STEM profession are generally more creative. As my profession falls within the realm of STEM, I understand I will NEVER be as creative as a professional artist. But I am an Amateur artist, an Amateur Photographer, and as such, I still require creativity.

Which, is not really what happens with my photography. As I have mentioned, my photography is more a spur of the moment thing, capturing an unexpected moment that happened and by sheer luck I had my camera at hand. Taking my camera everywhere (which I don’t always do anymore) increases the chances of the “sheer luck” of an interesting moment happening while I have my camera at hand. Thus my photos are not of thought out scenes to develop in my head and capture through the lens.

I’ve grown bored and tired of the “spontaneous” photo of an unexpected moment, and have started changing my photography paradigm. That requires that I push myself and step up to the challenge. By carrying the camera around, you could argue that it was no longer unexpected, it was in fact very much expected. The question was WHEN it was going to happen, not IF anymore. Trying and waiting for the moment often made me not have time to thoroughly think about theme and composition when it happened, producing less than great photos. The failure rate made me less enthusiastic in focusing on this photography.

Royal Exhibition Building

A real and tangible alternative was the creation of my projects: 52 weeks of chickens, Joy, The Lights of Melbourne. All these are clear examples of me trying to have a REASON to photograph, a focus on what I would like to communicate. My STEM background takes over as I prepare and write out the project proposals, they provide structure to my art. My projects have a what/who, when, where, how and why. If all of the five items cannot be defined as part of the project, it generally does not progress. When answering those questions, a spark is ignited inside me, providing me with a world of possibilities of what I can/will produce with the project.

Other items that push me forward with my amateur art: goals. Setting goals really (would) help define what the theme of the year will be. Do I always stick to it? No. Circumstances change, mindset changes, the world changes. But what I am not really happy (yet) with my goal defining is the lack of a real theme for them. This year’s goals, for example, were: 2 Lights of Melbourne photos, 1 sunset/sunrise photo, 1 studio photo, 1 night sky composition and 1 parameterized exercise. On the surface, there is nothing apparent that ties these goals together. If you dig further inside, you will see that the 4 of the 6 goals are associated with landscapes (urban or natural) and the way they are influenced by the different aspects of light: sunset, night and sunrise. They currently seem to be guiding my photo intentions.

The Point Lonsdale lighthouse is the last lighthouse before exiting Port Phillip Bay

When I talk about landscape photography, my mind goes straight to Ansel Adams. I have no presumption that I will ever be as good as him, but I can always aspire to want to. He is most famous for his landscape photography and I keep thinking that the photos I take will always be sub-par compared to his. He is an inspiration for me, despite not really having any books on the landscape photography he’s done (will need to fix that).

Last, but not least, I look at Annie Leibovitz. She is a true artist in portraiture. Looking at her body of work from 2005 to 2016, I am amazed at how some of the photos are so simple, yet so powerful. And the thing is, all the simplicity and beauty of her work makes it seem like it’s easy. But it is not. Through all the work I do with people, friends and models, I still have a long way to go. This is something I keep in the back of my mind when I’m working with people: how much better I still have to be. That gap, that desire to do as good is a great driving force. A force that will have to transcend past the limitations of my experiences, my background and my logically trained mind.

As my brief biography (About the author) points out, I’m not an artist. My interest in photography came only because of the nostalgia that it is to look at FAMILY photos. The interest has evolved and I have not done the proper homework in getting to know MORE photographers of the past and of this time. I have not had the opportunity to truly be MORE inspired by what is being done HERE and NOW. Creativity has to come from within, but inspiration can be mirrored in the work that has gone and that is currently being done. The work of artists of the past and of TODAY.

Note: the featured image (from the hero banner) is one of the photos I took of Cintia. I remember that I had no idea of what photos I wanted to take of her, as can be seen in the post Writer’s Block. But I took some props (the umbrella), I used some of her material (her lipstick and shawl) and was able to make the most of an “uninspired” photoshoot. I have to say, Photos of Cintia was one of the best photo shoots I have done with models so far.

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