Friday, July 27, 2012

Boosting Your Creativity

I've been going through Ed Verosky's new eBook, 15 Projects That Will Boost Your Creativity, and it has really got me thinking about the creative process in general and, more specifically, how and why we call upon it in our photography.

Obviously, the importance of being creative in our photography can't be undervalued or understated. And it doesn't just happen! We have to work at it so we can better employ our creativity in both the artistic elements of our photographs as well as their technical aspects.

In my eBook, Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography, I wrote a fair amount about creativity. Since boosting creativity is the subject of Ed's new book, I thought I'd also share a few snippets from my book -- they're the italicized paragraphs for the purpose of this blog update -- to help underscore the importance of doing whatever we can to boost our creativity and help make us more creatively-driven photographers. BTW, being a creatively-driven photographer doesn't mean everything we shoot is creative art. It simply means we're actively employing a creatively-driven process in order to snap the photos we hope to capture. We accomplish this by calling on our physical eyes as well as our creative visions and more, even when art is not the intended goal.

Although to my knowledge he wasn't ever a photographer, Mark Twain said something that is quite appropriate for photographers: "You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." In other words, seeing reality is not enough for most photographers. Your imagination needs to also see it. Then, camera in hand, have it's way with it. It doesn't matter if you're shooting landscapes or bodyscapes.

In a nutshell, that's what Ed's book sets out to do by providing those 15 excellent projects which are designed, amongst other things, to help get your imagination in focus.

Renowned street photographer, Gary Winogrand, once said, "The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful than what was photographed." Winogrand's observation is such a simple, no-brainer, Zen-like notion: Creative photographers make photographs that are more interesting or more beautiful (or containing more of many other qualities) than, well, than what reality reveals or what we think we merely see with our eyes." 

Ed's 15 projects, IMO, are mostly about helping your photographs be more interesting or more beautiful than what you're photographing. After all, unless you're a forensic photographer or merely documenting something without regard to aesthetics or style, that's what's photography, creative photography, is mostly about.

In my line of work as a glamour photographer, Winogrand's advice, as you might expect, is especially important. My job is to make the models in front of my camera more beautiful, more alluring, sexier, more seductive and appealing then what stark reality might reveal. It's not that I try to tell bold-faced lies with my glamour pics. Rather, I bend the truth. I stretch it. I embellish it-- hopefully in positive and successful ways. (At least in terms of the purposes of the photos.)

Making photos more interesting or more beautiful doesn't just happen. (Except, of course, when it does so by luck or accident.) It mostly happens when photographers skillfully add their unique creative visions, their photographic selves, their focused imaginations into the mix of reality. It's those human abilities that make beautiful, interesting, creatively-realized, imaginatively focused photographs. It's what makes portrait photographs more beautiful or more interesting or memorable than the people being photographed might ordinarily be.

And how do we learn to do that? Well, for starters, we learn as much as we can about the craft. And we continue learning via as many opportunities for learning as we can embrace. We also learn how to use the tools at our disposal. And then we practice, practice, practice! A good way to practice is by taking on projects or exercises like those in Ed's book.

Creative photographers not only see the world as it is, they see it as it isn't. Creative portrait photographers see people as they are and they see them as they are not or as they might be. Photographers cannot see those things, however hard they try, if their imaginations are out of focus. If their imaginations are out of focus, they will fail at making something more beautiful or interesting than what their cameras are pointed at.

Boosting your creativity isn't simply about enhancing your technical skills. And it certainly isn't about what camera or other gear you're using. Boosting your creativity is about finding ways, be it through practice (with the help of projects and exercises like those in Ed's book) or by taking a different, more open-eyed and open-minded approach to your photography. Superstar photographer, Annie Leibovitz, says she uses her camera "in a Zen way." That doesn't mean either Ms. Leibovitz or myself are encouraging people to become Zen disciples. We're not. Certainly, I'm not. But here's where I'm coming from and, I think, what Annie Leibovitz is talking about when she says she uses her camera in a Zen way: Zen, while not a religion, is a way of looking at life and the world around us. Photography, like Zen, is also a way of looking at life and the world around us... and capturing it!

CLICK HERE to learn more about Ed Verosky's new eBook, "15 Projects That Will Boost Your Creativity." If you're also interested in learning more about my eBook, "Zen and the Art of Portrait Photography"  you can CLICK HERE.

The vision of beauty at the top is Charmaine. I didn't have to bend, stretch, or embellish truth in very big ways to capture it.

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