Staying creative as a photographer

close_up_water_drops_on_pavementI haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions for 2018. It feels like an overrated pastime that relies on willpower. I’m more interested in finding ways of staying creative.

Paradoxically, 2017 ended on a creative high for me because I was forced to shoot close to home. Being restricted, I had a blunt choice – to pay close attention to my surroundings or give up and put my camera away. The creative urge won and I spent hours taking pictures from the balcony of our flat in Lusaka.

With the rainy season starting in November, I tried to capture the tropical rain, but the results were dull and flat – they didn’t do justice to the sheer volume of water falling out of the sky. Then one morning I found this pattern of water drops, outside on the balcony. Using a standard 50mm lens I took a few shots, before realizing that I needed to move in closer. With a 90mm lens focused at its minimum distance, I then played with different compositions until the light changed.

I’ve learnt two things from my recent experiments:

  1. The importance of being present and paying attention. If I hadn’t been open and receptive, I would have just sulked when my rain pictures ‘failed’ – and missed the water drops.
  2. It can be liberating to go with the flow and let go of expectations. Too often we prejudge our creative babies, with the result that they’re stillborn. When I lived in England, shooting on black and white film, my camera was usually aimed at dogs and their owners, for my Town Dogs project. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but photographing dogs and nothing else is one sure way of getting stale.

If you’d like to share your own experience or give any hints and tips, please leave a comment.

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4 Responses to “Staying creative as a photographer”
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