Saturday, May 18, 2013

More on Creativity and Inspiration

Lance never admitted this but he basically discovered the drug otherwise known as, "Asshole".

This is a continuation of the Q/A from the post below:

A: About your current progress. I used to think that being in the game for 2 years was a long time. But as time progressed I realized that quantifying what I had learned in years and months was not only pointless but also unfair to my personal growth. Why? Because I knew photographers with 30 years of "experience" that were absolutely lousy. Similarly I knew photographers with 4-5 years of experience that were simply amazing. Time is not equal for everyone. But regardless of such, if you truly want to be a fashion photographer, you have to be willing to dedicate your entire life to this journey!

And with that being said you need to give yourself time. Time is your best friend right now. Especially since you aren't "responsible" to anyone for creating anything. One day you'll miss the days when you didn't have external expectations and pressures to create!

The other thing to realize is that as a fashion photographer you are competing against a very very competitive field. There are way too many fashion photographers and everyone is seemingly competing for the same piece of the pie. The true key to success is to specialize in a subset of fashion photography. And I don't mean beauty versus editorial versus high fashion, even though all those subsets are themselves specialties under the broad umbrella of fashion. That's not specific enough. By specific I mean like "a B&W film photographer that only shoots macro shots of fashion models' eyelashes".

As far as inspiration goes, I truly believe everyone has it but most people are afraid to explore it. Everyone has ideas. But most people don't give their own ideas half a chance before they squash them like a bug with an abdomen full of larvae. And that's pretty much why I don't look at other people's work. I'm too easily swayed and influenced by other's work. In order to preserve my own fragile inspiration (and ego) I need to close myself off from foreign influences. Call me a xenophobe.

Of course being a shut-in only works if you're driven by something else. Something innate. Something that perseveres in the absence of external forces. For me, the foundation of my work is inspired by beauty (usually in the form of a face on a female model/subject). I don't need to look at someone else's work to know that this is what I want to create. Thus, I have a goal. And with this goal in mind the rest is just a matter of execution. In the execution I find different ways to represent that beauty. Combined with my intellectual nature and love for geometries (and architectures) and utter simplicity, I derive what is basically the LUCIMA style.

So why would I look at other people's work? All it ever does is make me feel bad about my own work. And if you know this to be true, why would you subject yourself to that?

We need to redefine creativity. Creativity isn't a source. It's not something you "tap". It's a frame of mind. Kind of like being happy. It's being open. Open to ideas. Open to new experiences. Open to the human experience. But you can't be open if you live in fear. Because fear kills creativity. Fear (expressed as frustration, lack of self-confidence, pessimism, expectations, general negativity, etc.) is a creative's worst nightmare. Notice that your lack of creativity is directly related to your exposure to too much work. You look at other photographers' work and you think that you should be creating that type or that level of work. You set high expectations for each shoot and when your shoots don't turn out the way you think they should, you become disappointed. Thus perpetuating more fear and killing more internally-generated creativity.

Kind of reminds me of what happens when you use drugs. Your body stops producing those naturally occurring chemicals and you (eventually) become dependent on those drugs. The same goes for relying too much on external sources of inspiration. You wind up aborting all of your own ideas.

Being driven from within is both a journey in self-exploration and self-acceptance. Self-exploration because you have to really know thyself and dig deep to figure out what makes you tick. What do you truly believe in? What do you really stand for? Self-acceptance because even with all your flaws and shortcomings, you are already complete. That you already have good ideas and everything that you need to be inspired and create.

All too often we seek redemption through the approval of others when instead we should seek our own forgiveness and acceptance of who we are.

Philosophy aside, there's still a place for learning the fundamentals. Of course you still need to know the basics. Lighting, composition, post-processing, model interaction, general business practices, etc. There's much to learn as a budding fashion photographer. But when push comes to shove, you have to trust yourself. And while much of that self-confidence comes from sheer volume of experience, the reality is that you already have an inner voice. You just need to listen to it.

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