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Creative inspiration

Posted on 16th January 2014 by David under Learning
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Creative inspiration does not depend on a shiny new camera

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

“That’s a nice camera, I bet it takes great photos”: there’s a phrase to make a photographer smile, or maybe not. It makes me smile anyway and usually brings to mind one or two parallel phrases such as “That’s a nice oven, I bet it bakes great cakes”, or maybe “That’s a nice typewriter, I bet it writes beautiful stories”.  Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci had an absolutely fabulous paintbrush.

Of course the camera / oven / typewriter / paintbrush is only part of the equation and is only a tool for a particular task after all. You also need the ability to use the tool. Generally speaking at least, you don’t just pick it up and start to use it. Ok, maybe you can tap out Three Blind Mice on a piano easily enough, but it’s hardly Mozart. You have to put in the work to understand how to use it – highly recommended if you have just invested in a new camera, and absolutely vital if you got a brand new power saw for Christmas and plan on keeping your fingers a while longer.

So you get your new camera, you read the manual, and you try out a few shots. Pretty soon you’ll be turning out works of art and have National Geographic ringing you up with assignments, right? Err… no. The manual told you how to operate the camera, lots of practice will allow you to use it instinctively, but there’s still the missing ingredient: The muse.

The muse is, to paraphrase several dictionary definitions, the source of ideas and the inspiration to be creative. Or to bring it back to the subject of photography, it’s a mixture of what you see, how you see it, how it moves you, and how you point your camera at it. The source of creative inspiration is different for everyone. Being in a beautiful environment works for many. Surprisingly, working in your own back yard, literally that patch of ground outside your back door, can also be a source of inspiration and a real training ground on how to see –  really see – if you let it.

One of the things that inspires my photography is painting, though my brushes are nowhere near as good as Leonardo’s!  Using watercolours reminds me to loosen up, let go of fixed ideas and, simply play.  It is just a hobby, yet I find the class I attend every three weeks provides inspiration that is adding to my photography. In effect it helps me as I continue to learn how to see… how to see colour, how to see shapes and composition, how to let go of old ideas and embrace new ones. It is also teaching me a lot about patience and that is no bad thing whatever you are doing.

Dorothea Lange said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”.  I’m finding a paintbrush is pretty good at that too.

Used with permission

Used with permission: www.whattheduck.net/strip/95

 

 

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