5 Easy Ways to Become More Creative

5 Easy Ways to Become More Creative

5 Easy Ways to Become More Creative

Everyone is looking for ways to be more creative, both in their work, life, or their photography. Following are five easy ways to help break the routine and old ways of thinking to work, think, and be more creative.

Start something. Just start. Maybe you have a gut feeling or intuition about a project without necessarily having an end game. Hey, that’s okay. Just start anyway and see where it goes. Planning is generally a good thing – especially with those really big, important life decisions with serious repercussions – but all too often, over-analyzing a project just leads to too many “what ifs” and other negative thoughts from the responsible version of you. Next thing you know, you begin having doubts and you never start at all. It’s amazing how, after starting something, you just find your way once you’re in the thick of it – particularly if youre good at it…or passionate about it. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a good idea. Just start and see what happens.

“Don’t think, just do.” –  Horace

Write it down. When you get an idea, immediately write it down. Carry a pen and paper pad in your briefcase. Email it to yourself. Use the Note App on your smartphone. Heck, you don’t even have to write it. Call yourself and leave a message on your voicemail. Just get it out of your head and make it tangible someplace.

Some of our very best creative ideas come to us when our mind is quiet or in a meditative state. When our dominant left brain is resting, it can be temporarily outflanked by our imaginative right brain to allow ideas to see the light of consciousness. But once you get busy again, they’re gone and you just can’t get them back – I don’t care how old (or young) you are. Ideas are fleeting and ephemeral and they will be lost to the wind unless you write them down to act on them later.

Do the Opposite. This is also known as the George Costanza Principle. If you want different results, it only makes sense that you make different decisions. Why not try the opposite of what you would instinctively do? If you’re in a rut or stuck in a rigid thought pattern, this might be a good way to start.

It must be said that common sense is to be used here so you don’t ruin your life or die by doing something really stupid. But if applied to photography, for example – where you probably wont die or ruin your life by the decisions you make, you might try doing the opposite of what you would normally do in that same shooting situation. Going out for a landscape sunrise shoot? Leave the wide-angle at home and bring only a telephoto lens. Bring only a mid-range zoom for a wildlife shoot. Photograph birds or sporting event using only long shutter speeds (like the image at the top of the page). You get the idea. What have you got to lose, after all? The answer is either nothing or the same old thing. Sometimes just asking the question, or at least raising the possibility, can shatter old ways of thinking and lead to creative results.

CREATIVE COMPOSITION

Image Design Masterclass by Richard Bernabe $9.95 USD
74-page PDF E-book on photographic composition theory and practice by photographer Richard Bernabe.

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Break The Rules. I wrote at length about this in the Creative Principle, but it’s worth mentioning yet again. Learn the rules so you can creatively break them. The best metaphor I could think up is the one I recited in the Creative Principle about how actors and actresses agonize over learning their lines, only to forget them and ad lib when the emotional tone of the scene calls for it. Some of the best scenes in motion picture history are the result of this kind of creativity freelancing.

Be Humble. When you’re humble, you’re a lot more open to learning something new than believing you’re always the expert. At least once each month, you should put yourself in a situation where you are the most ignorant or unskilled person within a group of other people. I once spent an afternoon with a group of very skilled portrait photographers and was easily the dumbest person there, with regard to portrait photography. I was humbled, obviously and I didn’t say much because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. But I watched and listened (they were photographers so we did speak the same language) and I picked up quite a few things that I could take with me and apply to my travel, wildlife. and nature photography.

You’ve never done yoga, you say? Attend a yoga class with a group of experienced practitioners. Go to a chess club meeting, even though you’ve only played a few times as a kid. Go to a lacrosse game. Just get out of your element and areas of expertise and humble yourself a little bit. It’s good for the soul and you might learn a few things too – particularly about yourself.

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The Creative Principle

The Creative Principle

The following is an excerpt from my new E-book, Creative Composition. It happens to be the very last chapter after outlining and explaining the many compositional “rules” and concepts used in photography and the arts.

The Creative Principle

Creativity is the process of making, or creating, something new and useful – in our instance here, that would be a photograph. So in order for a photograph to be creative it must involve a scene, technique, or composition that’s never been done before. But making something new isn’t enough. There are an infinite number of ways to make new or novel images with your camera – including tripping the shutter as you throw it down a mountain or firing it remotely after attaching the camera to your dog’s tail as it walks the yard. Each of the results would be new or different, to be sure, but they wouldn’t necessarily be creative. Almost all of the photos would be failures, unless you stumbled upon a random, happy accident. The photograph needs to be both new and useful, meaning it has to make a meaningful connection with the viewer. Art cannot be the product of an accident. Art must be purposeful. Composing a scene through your camera’s viewfinder is just one conscious, purposeful thing you can do as a photographic artist.

Following the composition “rules” as outlined in this book will surely lead to visually appealing images that are “useful” but they will lack the creativity you’re striving for since there’s nothing new in any of them. You must learn to break the rules in order to achieve true creative results but you also have to know the rules in order to break them. Actors are told to learn their lines so they can later forget them and improvise on the spot. The good ones do just that. Call it irony if you wish, but I prefer to call it the Creative Principle. Feel free to break this one too since there are, in fact, no rules.

It’s also crucial to understand that breaking the rules just for the sake of breaking them is not being creative either. What’s most important about knowing the rules is understanding why they work most of the time – something I hope this book has accomplished for you. Knowing why the rules work will lead to something akin to a higher state of compositional enlightenment: knowing when your photo is successful when not using the rules, or better yet, purposely breaking them. Once you get to that happy place, you will be on the path to true creative synthesis.

The last step on this journey to creative expression is actually putting The Creative Principle into action. The French artist, Henri Matisse once famously declared, “Creativity takes courage.” It takes considerable courage to deviate from the safe confines of conventional compositional rules because trying something different could lead to failure. Your art should be an intimate expression of yourself so it’s easy to take failure personally. It’s important to remember, however, that artistic growth requires experimenting and trying new things. Failures will definitely occur along the way but they’re a small price to pay for the creative breakthroughs you’re going to make by venturing outside your comfort zone. Edwin Land, the founder of Poloroid, said, “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Don’t be afraid to try something new.

So consider the rules merely as guidelines or suggestions with which to take generous liberties. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso offered as advice to fellow creatives. When I’m behind the camera, I am not thinking about any compositional rules, guidelines, or suggestions but instead I’m working on more of an intuitive level. I don’t think too much about composition. I simply defer to what feels right. Yet the concepts in this book have helped teach me how to see and they’re never far away from the conscious decisions I’m making in real time. Later on, I often discover that I did, in fact, use one of the rules presented here (or I’ve discovered that I ignored all of them) but I’m never thinking that way at the time of the capture.

Remember, no one is born an accomplished photographer and master of composition. It’s not an innate talent. It’s not a gift. There are no child prodigies in the field of photography. Every great photographer has had to learn the rules, intentionally break the rules, then ignore them altogether. If you’re just starting out, rest assured that you are in the same place that I once was, as well as every other professional photographer. Learn the rules, adopt the Creative Principle, then follow your heart and intuition to a life of creative expression. Enjoy the journey.

The 74 pages of Creative Composition, including the Creative Principle and photographs to illustrate the ideas and concepts in the book, will get your creative juices flowing again which will help power your way to greater creative expression with your camera.

Creative Principle

CREATIVE COMPOSITION

Image Design Masterclass by Richard Bernabe $9.95 USD
74-page PDF E-book on photographic composition theory and practice by photographer Richard Bernabe.

Add to Cart

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