As for all the arts and works emanating from the heart and mind, we need that spark for our creations. Like wordsmiths who can have writer’s block, image-makers on occasions can also feel unimaginative and face a blank canvas. Here’s how I counter such moments of drudgery and awaken a sleeping creativity.
1. Go on location
The most enthusiastic lensman can capture exquisite images right from his home or backyard. But sometimes it takes a trip outside into the big wide world to give us photographic ideas and insights. Nature never fails to inspire the artist in us. It may not be a grand adventure or expedition but simply a walk in the beach, fishing by the lake, a picnic on a forest reserve. The breath of fresh air and views of new surroundings is sure to stimulate senses and get you grabbing that camera, seeing the world through the viewfinder.
2. View works of the masters
Bless the internet as we can see in an instant the works of the legends – Ansel Adams, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz and many more. Professionalphotographer.co.uk lists 100 Most influential photographers of all time with links to their works. I get a kick reading on their biography, how they started in photography and how they found their style. Viewing their masterpieces, for me, is an enriching experience. We may never get to reach their level, but surely we can learn a thing or two from their pioneering and innovative efforts.
3. View works of enthusiasts
The masters may teach us, yet it is the works of like-minded photography enthusiasts that influences me and keeps me grounded on reality. At this time when everyone with a smartphone can snap any picture, I actually explore Flickr and other photo sites as well as pages of photo bloggers here at WordPress, looking out for those exceptional images that stand out. I read about the photographer, their experiences, the camera settings they use to take images. It thrills me that I can be of the same level with outstanding enthusiasts, as I can never be with the masters.
4. Join a camera club
We may be members of online groupings, participating in chats and forums to learn from others. However, nothing beats joining a physical camera club where you get to brush elbows with friends and peers. Social engagement is now taken for granted what with all the social media sites around. But “facebooking” or “flickring” is never like the inspired experience of an actual photo shoot/photo walk with your club buddies.
5. Be alone
Social is good. But the clutter and chatter of our fast-paced, noisy environment distracts us from the art of “seeing” or “sensing.” I found that a place of quiet and contemplation, where the soul can be calm and the mind refreshed, can unleash imagination and vision.
Creativity is not an on or off thing like a toggle switch that can be activated at the flick of a finger. Artists are an emotional and expressive batch and they can have moods, sometimes bountiful with a wellspring of inspiration flowing continuously, at times dark and empty, an abyss of nothingness. There are moments we need to find our muse and there are things we can do to realize that. How about you, where do you draw inspiration for your images?
Have a great week ahead!
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!
This is my 200th post and the above image was the one I used on my very first post last October 11, 2012. I was posting left and right, here and there, three or four times a day, at a feverish pace when the blogging bug bit me, I never minded the milestones. A hundred posts swiftly passed by unnoticed. And I think I only missed a day without posting anything. What was I able to accomplish? Nothing much really. I thank those who nominated me for four or five blogging awards. I thank those who took time to visit this blog, commented and liked the posts. I thank those who followed this blog – so far 187 blessed souls who were inspired. I just hoped readers and viewers of this blog got something out of it, bits of information, sparks of insights and pieces of wisdom. I have been blogging since 2007 at another site but that activity waned after two years. It is only now that I have again picked up the pen and paired it with photographs to come up with this effective blending of words and images. Keep on clicking blogger friends!
The ordinary into extraordinary. The usual into unique. The common into exceptional. The familiar into fantastic. I could go on and on but I know you get the gist. Photography gives you the power of transforming ordinary images into something spectacular. Oh, we know how to do it. Say what? Yes, we just like right now forgot how to do it. That is why we need to be reminded and refreshed. And to continue learning. So how do we go about this process of transformation? How do we create extraordinary images from ordinary subjects or situations? Consider the situation I was in – riding on a 20-seater motorboat on a three-hour trip going to an island. The first hour was generally unexciting with almost nothing but the expanse of the deep blue sea. But I noticed movement – the splash of water in the boat’s outrigger, and the currents and ripples in the sea as the boat passed by. And of course the colors, deep and contrasting. I had to assess the elements and decide what to include and exclude in the frame, all in a matter of seconds, and the outcome is the picture above. Dawn Oosterhoff in her article Everyday Images: Making Ordinary Pictures into Extraordinary Photography provides some guides: be observant, become aware of what you are seeing and experiencing, physically and mentally assess your subject, change your perspective, consider what to include and what to exclude, emphasize your subject, choose your moment, and experiment. Seems like we’re familiar with all the aforementioned and even tackled them in previous posts. They are fundamentally still the basics: framing, zeroing in, choosing, emphasizing and experimenting. Read the article to get a better grasp of the writer’s explanations. They aren’t new, but they are things we sometimes miss and fail to consider. No magic formula here, just a return to the essential – the photographer’s vision and the art of “seeing.” (Photo location: Surigao del Norte)
Ultimately, simplicity is the goal – in every art, and achieving simplicity is one of the hardest things to do. Yet it’s easily the most essential.~Pete Turner (Photo location: Lake Sebu, South Cotabato province)
You’re about to take a photo and thought that the thing in front is not important and distracted from the entire image. Think again and recompose your shot. An item or subject in the foreground just might enhance the overall image. In the accompanying picture, can you imagine the image if I did not include the banca (local term for outrigger canoe) in the foreground? I’ll be left with a river panorama of trees reflected on the water, which is quite fine. However, adding the foreground provided elements of distance, a point of interest, and contrast (with the yellow-colored canvas). Writer and professional photographer Ron Bigelow adds that aside from the aforementioned elements, a good foreground also creates mood, a dynamic feel, and impact to an image. Here is Bigelow’s fascinating photography and article on The Importance of Foreground. Next time you’re confronted with majestic mountains, look down first; there might be mushrooms, snails or small items on the ground. Now you know what to do! (Photo location: a river in Surigao del Sur province)
The Philippines has 7,107 islands with a combined coastline of more than 36,000 kilometers, the third longest in the world. No wonder, looking at hundreds of photos in my collection, I find that one-third of them are coastal sceneries with varied subjects – boats, beach, sunset, waves, seas, wharfs, fisherfolk, islands and more. I revel in this variety of subjects my archipelago country affords me; a diversity more than I can manage to capture. (Photo location: Alubihod Beach, Guimaras Island)