I’ve been a professional photographer for nearly ten years, and throughout this decade I’ve experienced a whole lot of things: a range of clients, business ebbs and flows, and industry changes and trends, to name a few. But one thing that’s been a constant challenge for me has been: “How can I fuel my imagination and creativity?” With every year comes a whole new set of creativity challenges, and this past year was no exception. However, 2012 was a year of intentionality for me. I deliberately explored and observed and learned about the creative process, and what my role as an artist truly is to me.
I now know creativity has to be nurtured to be able to perform at its best. Here are some things I’ve learned and accumulated about the creative process over the past ten years:
– Photographing 60 weddings a year and working 80 hours a week is beyond stupid and the absolute best way to kill creativity. It’s also the best way to forget that you have family and friends, who enjoy spending time with you and miss you. Working this illogically is also the best way to unhealthy and inevitably put on weight. No amount of money is worth the sacrifice of your creativity, your family and friends or your personal wellness.
– Place experiences and adventures as a higher priority than material possessions. Get out and explore the world every year. Live in a smaller house if you have to make it happen.
– We’ve all heard the old adage, “Just be yourself and you will find success.” Well, my friends, it’s true. It is sound advice. But what happens if you do not know who the hell you are? My instant answer to this is travel. You will find yourself by going off and exploring on your own.
– Make it a priority to spend time on your own every week. Learn to become your own best friend.
– Pay attention and learn about your peculiar personality traits. Learn what makes you anxious, learn what makes you stressed. But most importantly learn what makes you feel. Learn to pay attention to who you are, to how you feel and to why you react. Then use this to fuel your creativity.
– Allow your mind enough time to wander and make yourself feel vulnerable. If your mind comes back feeling uncomfortable, this is a good thing. Embrace it and express how you are feeling through the creation of something. The art that I’ve been most proud of creating have been made while I was hurting and heartbroken. While creating these images, my hurting heart and anxious mind made sure that I had no choice but to create.
– Dream bigger than what you think is possible. You will often surprise yourself at what you can achieve.
– Your imagination is like a muscle that needs a constant workout routine to stay in optimum shape. You cannot just decide to run a marathon tomorrow. You need to train for that. For months. Vigorously. View your imagination in the same way. When was the last time you took your imagination on a 5k run?
– Dedicate one day a week to go out and shoot for yourself. Always work on numerous personal projects. It’s good for your mind and soul. Going out and shooting personal work will introduce you to new people in your community who you may not otherwise interact with.
– And, lastly the creative process comes in waves and is oftentimes something you have no perfect control over. Life often dictates our creativity. Sometimes the waves are big and almighty, sometimes it is just a little ripple and other times the waters are perfectly still. But it is good to experience the highs and the lows. The lows can be just as good as the highs. And, those low times it is good to just rest your mind.
Ten years in I can’t tell you that this is the end-all be-all of my “how to nurture creativity” list. It’s an on-going challenge for me, and I know that some points will be more tedious than others in different seasons in my life. However, I can tell you that it is SO important to accept that creativity will find you when you break your routine and create adventure. I also know that creativity does not come when I’m consumed in the mundane runnings of my full time business; rather, it thrives and grows when my mind is allowed to rest, to wander and to explore. So what are you waiting for? Explore!
Our “What I Have to Say” Wednesday series features established photographers and artists with messages they just can’t keep inside. Authentically and honestly, our writers share words of wisdom to challenge, encourage, and inspire.