Thursday, June 16, 2011

Is Creativity Learned?

Of all the emails I receive thanks to this blog, the question that I get asked the most is: "What inspires you?" People definitely want to know what kind of gear I shoot with and what settings I used to achieve a certain shot but most people are curious about where my creativity comes from.

Photographers are known to have that keen eye that makes their work so interesting and beautiful and while I don't think that you can really teach someone to see, learning to look is definitely possible. If you at least start looking and taking it all in, the creativity will start to flow from there. In my opinion creativity is definitely a skill that you can develop. I think of creativity as a muscle that needs to be worked on and worked out. I don't mean to sound trite but inspiration really is everywhere if you simply open your eyes to it or at least teach yourself how to open your eyes to it. And yes, I think it is as simple as it sounds.

Here are some very easy tips for honing your creativity and learning to see!

1. Slow down! 

Really. The simple act of walking down the street can cause a creative explosion in your head. My husband jokes that I'm always five steps (or more) behind when we go out for a walk. I'm always in a rush. I'm chronically late and I'm always wondering "why can't I just get it together 10 minutes earlier?" So when I have no particular place to go - or even when I do have a place to go but for once I'm not rushing - I slow down the pace, take my time and take it all in. In the last year I learned how to manage my time better - with the baby I'm constantly running from one place to the next and making sure I have enough formula, diapers, wipes, toys, water, juice, etc. The other day I was going nuts looking for my sunglasses and they were on my head (true story)! If I had just taken five seconds and five deep breaths I would have avoided that craziness, not to mention an impatient baby girl sitting in her stroller watching her mother run around trying to get everything together. I wondered what I must look like to her and then I started laughing and it made her laugh too! But I digress...the point is to remember the next time you're trying to get some place, stop yourself and take a look around because the most beautiful things and places are right in front of you.

After the Rain

2. Don't just look for the pretty.

If something looks "ugly" or at least not traditionally "pretty" it's usually more interesting. I love photographing flowers and the way the light bounces off them but when something is neglected and dirty and overlooked, it can be beautiful too. Magic light is magic light whether it touches an ocean landscape or old urban buildings. Take a picture of it.


3. Read

I get so much inspiration from blogs and print media. Some of my current favorite reads for daily doses of creativity online include The Glamourai, Pixiq, From Me To You, Honestly...WTF, Dazed Digital and Nowness.  I usually just end up clicking around from place to place but I love these sites as starting points.

4.  Look

When you finally condition yourself to slow down, stop for a minute and look.  You'll start to see pretty soon.  You will be looking at people but you won't just be seeing them.  You'll see their shadows.  You'll be looking at puddles but you'll be seeing the way the light shines in the water and whatever else is reflected in them.  Look in front of you, behind you, above you, below you. Look everywhere. Try it.  You'll like it.


Sorry Street

to be young

things I do not understand

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

you pick the place and I'll choose the time

Do you have any tips for being more creative? What are your creativity rituals?

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