Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Learning How To See

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

Can you really learn how to be creative?  I asked this question a while back and I decided that the answer is "sort of".  Is that helpful?  I definitely believe that creativity is like a muscle in your body that needs to be worked on and part of that definition comes with teaching yourself how to really see.  Not just LOOK, but actually SEE.  So how do we do that?

Here are some small and very simple tips that always help me...

1.  Analyze

I love to examine the work of other photographers.  What did they do to capture an image?  Yes equipment matters but it doesn't matter if you have a Hasselblad, Leica, Polaroid or camera phone - if you don't know how to use it and if you can't get yourself to think outside the box and think beyond the surface of a scene, it doesn't matter what kind of camera you used.

Who or what is the subject?  Where was the photograph taken?  Look at the light.  What time of day was it?  What was the light source?  How did they do that?

2.  What would you do differently?

I learn as much from other photographers because of what I like about their work as I do because of what I don't like about their work.  I don't look at it as criticism as much as I think about it as a personal preference and style.  We all look to other artists to be inspired and a lot of artists reference each other so asking yourself what you would do differently is just another way to get you thinking about your own work. 

3.  Take your time.

This isn't something that you can learn quickly and it's definitely not something you ever stop learning.  As a photographer, or at least as someone who is interested in art and photography, the goal should be to constantly grow and evolve.  Take your time to study and make yourself go deeper and push yourself to see past whatever is on the surface.  Don't rush yourself.

4.  Look at all the sides.

I took these two photos when I was out on a photo walk by myself late one afternoon.  I had planned on looking up and photographing buildings, lines, architectural details of one neighborhood.  I got a little sidetracked and turned right instead of left and I found myself at the river looking at something completely different but feeling just as inspired.  When I looked at the images I thought about converting them to black and white and suddenly they went together even though on the surface they are so different.

Copyright Monica L. Shulman

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