Creativity is one of my favorite parts of life. Since my early days in elementary school, being creative has always been one of the most essential parts of my existence. (whoa, heavy)
My Other Creative Pursuits
Before I got serious about photography I was a professional musician for the bulk of my life. It would have been great if there would’ve been some overlap there. I would’ve loved to have documented more of my life as a musician with a camera. The friends; musicians; gigs; backstage; travel, it would’ve been great. However, I’m just glad I got started as a photographer when I did.
Anyway, I definitely look at playing music as creative. You start with nothing but space; air. Then, with the notes you play, you fill that space. Especially if you improvise. You’re literally creating something from nothing.
I do design work for clients. For example, I design their websites; I’ll put together graphic design for their social media presence and also for their print work. Again, starting from nothing and creating something. Very creative opportunities exist in this kind of work.
In my downtime I often enjoy just making sketches with pencil and paper. This is therapy for me. Again, creating something from nothing. From the blank sheet of paper to the finished simple drawing. Creative.
But What About My Photography? Creative?
Well, my knee jerk reaction to that question would be,
“Creativity is my life, baby! Of course my photography is creative.”
But lately I’ve been giving this more thought. Is my photography really creative? Over the past 2-3 years I would say that my photography has more of an observational nature rather than actually creating something from nothing. But, does that mean it’s not creative?
What I mean by that is, when I first started doing photo shoots, I or the model, or both would come up with the concepts for the shoots. We’d think about wardrobe, hair and makeup, props, etc… We’d have a very intentional idea about what we wanted to create.
My more recent photo shoots are more focused around, less of a specific concept, and more about connectivity with the person I’m working with. Meaning, I’ll give the person I’m working with very minimal direction. I want to capture more of their natural state; less produced. These kinds of photos really speak to me more. I can feel more from photographs of this nature.
When a photo shoot is really controlled; giving the model exact posing direction, I feel the photo is definitely more about the photographer, so the photo is not going to feel as natural. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what I want to see, feel from my photos.
In that case, am I just documenting moments? Is that being creative?
So Is My Photography Creative?
Even though I’m not shaping the clay, I’m creating an atmosphere where the clay (the model) can feel relaxed, let themselves be more vulnerable, free and comfortable enough so that the photographs can tell better stories. I love this kind of collaboration, it’s one of my favorite parts of photography. I would much rather create something together rather than have it be all about me.
Even when it comes to any kind of street or social documentary photography (whatever you want to call that kind of stuff), yeah, it is true that I’m just photographing something that just happens to be in front of me. But I’m not just taking the obvious shot (okay, sometimes I do). I’m really trying to find the best angle, something different that tells a more unique story.
Why Have I Even Been Questioning This?
I watched an interview with photographer, Tyler Shields. If you’re unfamiliar with Tyler’s work, you should really watch the interview. Tyler is the kind of photographer that will definitely put a lot of thought into the concept and composition of his photographs. Very intentional work, for lack of better term.
I watched Tyler’s interview and it made me reflect on my own photography. This guy is definitely being creative with his photography… am I?
It’s been an interesting conversation inside my own head. I say interesting because there are no right or wrong answers here. Just interesting, reflective contemplation of my own approach to the photographs I create.
So Let’s Wrap it Up… Is Your Photography Creative?
For me, while I might not be controlling and directing every aspect of my photos; while the photos might not be strongly conceptual; while my focus might be more about being observational and responsive, I still feel that the work is definitely creative.
What about you? Is your photography focused on creativity? Maybe more documentary? Just having fun? Again, no wrong answer here. And really, your opinion is the only one that matters.