I realized that the things that have contributed to the creative side of my photography rarely come from the genre of photography and more often come from other disciplines or other activities.
I have compiled a list that I think will help every photographer, despite the fact that on their face, they have nothing to do with photography. Based on my personal experience, if you try some or all of these things, it will make you a more creative photographer.
Let me know if any of these work for you.
(In no particular order)
1. HAVE FUN
Photography is supposed to be fun and if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. All creative pursuits should involve at least SOME fun. It’s where your inner child lives. It’s who you were as a kid. Remember when you asked your mom if you could go “play?” When is the last time you thought like that? It’s not too late to start now.
2. REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT FAIL
Just by calling yourself a creative, you win. Charles Horton Cooley said, ‘An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.’
3. EMBRACE YOUR ALONE TIME
I spend a great deal of time by myself. I have learned to value that time, to mine it, to use it, to find a creative spark when I need one.
4. LOOK FOR INSPIRATION IN THE ORDINARY
Visit a local retail store. Visit a back alley. Visit a car lot. Visit places that you do not expect to find art, and look for inspiration right there.
5. LOOK AT LOTS OF OTHER ART
Don’t go to a museum to see the latest exhibition of photography. Instead, go for the sculpture, the glasswork or anything else that is outside your discipline. I learned this from reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” (Bonus tip – read “The Artist’s Way” to spin up even more creativity.)
6. KEEP TRYING NEW THINGS
Remember the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” When you try new things – even if they don’t work, sometimes they lead to other things that do. Everything that has ever worked for anyone – didn’t work for someone else. See what works for you.
7. ACCIDENTS CAN BE GOOD
Don’t let accidents annoy you. Some of the most important advancements in our time, such as Penicillin, The Slinky and chewing gum, all came into being because someone didn’t get mad at or detracted by an accident, but studied it instead.
8. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
Ask questions of everyone and anyone and then do something amazing – actually listen. Listening to others and seeing things as they see them has been one of the most valuable creative exercises I’ve ever undertaken.
Don’t drink alcohol, use drugs or take any substance into your body that is designed to alter your mental state. In my experience, stoned people are rarely creative – they only THINK they are creative. Many people are surprised to learn that I have never used alcohol or drugs in my life. I have never been drunk. I have never been stoned. It’s not because I am practicing some religion – it’s because it frees up my mind to make better decisions which in turn makes me more creative.
You don’t ever need to spend a dime to become more creative. You just need to follow the advice that Apple Computer gave us years ago – “Think Different.”
I’m rooting for you.
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