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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> What does it take to be creative?
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04/27/2008 07:34:28 PM · #1
This is probably a foolish question, but is creativity something one can learn, or is it that you just either have it or not? I spent all day taking photos today and every single photo I took looked like crap. I am so disappointed. I just sat down and pretty much decided that I am just really really bad at it and don't want to take pictures any more. I can't even find anything interesting to photograph at my house. I am sure someone creative could find lots of interesting things but I just can't. What do you guys think? Can a person learn to be creative?
04/27/2008 07:46:11 PM · #2
Learning to See Creatively

I have this book. It's useful if you treat it like an assignment ... go out and *do* the things it tells you to do.

While I happen to believe creativity is something you are born with, I also think we can each learn a lot of it.
04/27/2008 07:48:41 PM · #3
Yes, absolutely. I can honestly say that I've come a way along that path... but I have a very long way to go. For a very good read, try this book. I guarantee that it will put you on a path to seeing the world, and your photography differently.

LOL, too slow, but great minds think alike!

Message edited by author 2008-04-27 19:49:05.
04/27/2008 07:52:28 PM · #4
Originally posted by dwterry:

Learning to See Creatively

I have this book. It's useful if you treat it like an assignment ... go out and *do* the things it tells you to do.

While I happen to believe creativity is something you are born with, I also think we can each learn a lot of it.

Thanks a lot David. I will get the book.
04/27/2008 07:55:35 PM · #5
Some people do have more of a natural inclination to be creative. Others can learn it to an extent.

My own suggestion is to spend some time evaluating what you like that others have done. Commenting on challenges here is a great way of doing that. You will start picking up on ways of looking at things which others are doing that you never noticed before. Pay attention to patterns, leading lines, the play of colors and light on things. You will get a feel for what pleases you.

After a while you will start seeing things framed in your mind as you look at them, and you will start looking at ordinary objects in different ways. Sometimes a stupendous, breathtaking scene will be a common snapshot, while the most ordinary items will have patterns the camera will bring out for you to see.

Edited to add:
I just looked at the two challenges you have entered to date, and both of them show a creative way of looking at things, in just the way I was describing.

Message edited by author 2008-04-27 19:57:54.
04/27/2008 08:30:03 PM · #6
I have spent days taking photos that all look like crap, and even if I had your pp skills and vision they would still look like crap. Creativity comes and creativity goes. Well, maybe I mean inspiration, but neither is a hard science. What can be helpful are books and little exercises (I liked Freeman Patterson's books), but for the most part I think it is a long process like learning to live in a way that makes the best sense to you.
04/27/2008 08:30:49 PM · #7
Originally posted by kirbic:

Yes, absolutely. I can honestly say that I've come a way along that path... but I have a very long way to go. For a very good read, try this book. I guarantee that it will put you on a path to seeing the world, and your photography differently.

LOL, too slow, but great minds think alike!

Thank you kirbic. I ordered the book
04/27/2008 08:35:26 PM · #8
Originally posted by yospiff:

Some people do have more of a natural inclination to be creative. Others can learn it to an extent.

My own suggestion is to spend some time evaluating what you like that others have done. Commenting on challenges here is a great way of doing that. You will start picking up on ways of looking at things which others are doing that you never noticed before. Pay attention to patterns, leading lines, the play of colors and light on things. You will get a feel for what pleases you.

After a while you will start seeing things framed in your mind as you look at them, and you will start looking at ordinary objects in different ways. Sometimes a stupendous, breathtaking scene will be a common snapshot, while the most ordinary items will have patterns the camera will bring out for you to see.

Edited to add:
I just looked at the two challenges you have entered to date, and both of them show a creative way of looking at things, in just the way I was describing.

Thanks for your kind words yospiff. I feel a bit better now. I will keep trying
04/27/2008 08:38:55 PM · #9
Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Message edited by author 2008-04-27 20:39:14.
04/27/2008 08:40:12 PM · #10
Originally posted by tnun:

I have spent days taking photos that all look like crap, and even if I had your pp skills and vision they would still look like crap. Creativity comes and creativity goes. Well, maybe I mean inspiration, but neither is a hard science. What can be helpful are books and little exercises (I liked Freeman Patterson's books), but for the most part I think it is a long process like learning to live in a way that makes the best sense to you.

Yes, I know it is a long process and part of my problem is that I am very impatient. I am not giving up yet. I've ordered that book, now I can't wait to get it.
04/27/2008 08:44:45 PM · #11
Originally posted by pawdrix:

Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Hmmm, Rangefinder, Outdoor Photographer (it's a bit technical), I think that's it. I do admit that it's much easier for me to read technical aspects of photography than creative.
04/27/2008 08:48:30 PM · #12
Originally posted by maggieddd:


Yes, I know it is a long process and part of my problem is that I am very impatient. I am not giving up yet. I've ordered that book, now I can't wait to get it.


Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Did you read the three reviews of that book? There were two negative opinions and granted that's no big deal but I could relate to what they said.

04/27/2008 08:55:14 PM · #13
Originally posted by pawdrix:

Originally posted by maggieddd:


Yes, I know it is a long process and part of my problem is that I am very impatient. I am not giving up yet. I've ordered that book, now I can't wait to get it.


Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Did you read the three reviews of that book? There were two negative opinions and granted that's no big deal but I could relate to what they said.

See my above post about magazines.
As far as the reviews of the book, yes I read them, but I also read the positive reviews. I guess, it won't hurt to read it.
04/27/2008 09:00:08 PM · #14
Originally posted by maggieddd:

Originally posted by pawdrix:

Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Hmmm, Rangefinder, Outdoor Photographer (it's a bit technical), I think that's it. I do admit that it's much easier for me to read technical aspects of photography than creative.


I think looking at great images by great photographers is a better starting place. John Szarkowski's Looking at Photographs could be more what you're after. In having a deeper discussion or understanding of other peoples vision that may lead you down a path where you find your own.

In regard to the readers reviews, one guy did say that the books "drained me of my passion as I read them, which is the opposite of what Peterson intended"
YIKES!!!

LensWork is a great magazine. The photographers featured explore their topics with what seems to be very deep passion. The text is rarely technical unless it directly pertains to the photographers way of seeing. There are nice conversational interviews that try to explore the mind of the photographers and delve into the subjects/tpocs at equal length.

Message edited by author 2008-04-27 21:10:27.
04/27/2008 09:08:53 PM · #15
Originally posted by pawdrix:

Originally posted by maggieddd:

Originally posted by pawdrix:

Maggie-What books or magazines have you read about photography...ones that aren't technical in nature?

Hmmm, Rangefinder, Outdoor Photographer (it's a bit technical), I think that's it. I do admit that it's much easier for me to read technical aspects of photography than creative.


I think looking at great images by great photographers is a better starting place. John Szarkowski's Looking at Photographs could be more what you're after. In having a deeper discussion or understanding of other peoples vision that may lead you down a path where you find your own.

thanks pawdrix. That's a great resource as well. I will get that one as well
04/27/2008 09:14:52 PM · #16
Photography is about lighting more than anything else. Interesting lighting can help to make a photo more interesting. When shooting outdoors the best photos are usually taken when the sun is low in the sky. Early morning or late afternoon is best. This is becuase of the great shadows cast when the sun is low.

When shooting indoors try to light the subject in an interesting way.

ps
I took a ton of photos today and they're all crap too!
04/27/2008 10:09:43 PM · #17
Yes, some people are just not creative at all.
04/27/2008 10:13:02 PM · #18
i think that everyone (even the big ribbon winners) have those days where you just hit 'Erase all' on your camera after shooting, but i think it just takes perseverance and sometimes a change of subjects or scenery, at least for me anyway.

good luck and don't give up.

:]
04/27/2008 10:15:23 PM · #19
Apart from just the photo side of creativity, which is obviously important, I think just being openminded and having fun, esp with your POV, will help. Personally I LOVE taking pics of one thing so it looks like another. I think if you set out thinking 'OMG I must be creative' then you're already setting up unrealistic expectations of yourself. Think of how the Beatles did Sgt Pepper...they asked George Martin to try and get all kind of unusual sounds and the classically trained Martin had to basically learn to think outside the box to get what the band wanted. But he did it! And the Beatles themselves (I think only Paul was the one with any formal training, I may be wrong) had little idea as to what the 'rules' were, so I feel that's why so many of their songs sound as clean and fresh today as they did 40 yrs ago.
04/27/2008 10:40:37 PM · #20
Originally posted by dwterry:

Learning to See Creatively

I have this book. It's useful if you treat it like an assignment ... go out and *do* the things it tells you to do.

While I happen to believe creativity is something you are born with, I also think we can each learn a lot of it.


Originally posted by kirbic:

Yes, absolutely. I can honestly say that I've come a way along that path... but I have a very long way to go. For a very good read, try this book. I guarantee that it will put you on a path to seeing the world, and your photography differently.

LOL, too slow, but great minds think alike!


Since you two have promoted this book as a winner, I have included it into the "Bookshelf" thread.

Please feel free to share more of your scholarly knowledge with the rest of the membership...knowledge is power after all.

A mind is terrible wasted...I mean, a mind wasted is terrible...wait, aaaaa terrible mind, no, no,....a terribly wasted mind equals a politician,...no, that's not right either...aw hell, you get the picture.


04/27/2008 10:40:38 PM · #21
Originally posted by GreatJobBob:


ps
I took a ton of photos today and they're all crap too!


I'd say 90% of what I shoot is crap. Maybe more. I can spend a day shooting pictures and end up with only one or two (or none) that are worth doing anything with.

To the OP, try blatantly stealing other people's ideas. Or at least starting out with that intent. That will get you over the creative hump, and by the time you have a finished product, it's impossible that you will not have imparted some of your own creativity in the process.

I'm learning more and more every day that photogrpahy (especailly digital photography, where everything is accomplished with the push of a button) is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration.
04/27/2008 10:49:54 PM · #22
Originally posted by bvy:

Originally posted by GreatJobBob:


ps
I took a ton of photos today and they're all crap too!


I'd say 90% of what I shoot is crap.

You are merely confirming the universality of Sturgeon's Law. :-)
04/27/2008 10:59:17 PM · #23
Originally posted by GeneralE:

Originally posted by bvy:

Originally posted by GreatJobBob:


ps
I took a ton of photos today and they're all crap too!


I'd say 90% of what I shoot is crap.

You are merely confirming the universality of Sturgeon's Law. :-)


Anything I can do to conform (or confirm)...
04/27/2008 11:35:14 PM · #24
Summary: my mind gets terribly wasted trying to find my 1% that isn't crap. (Actually if I batted 1 in 100, I'd be pretty happy; maybe blame it on high capacity cards - there must be an equation there).

A great original and awesomely creative man I once knew when asked what was the secret said it was to make big mistakes, and then go on to make even bigger mistakes. (I've felt much better ever since).
04/28/2008 12:39:18 AM · #25
Originally posted by maggieddd:

This is probably a foolish question, but is creativity something one can learn, or is it that you just either have it or not? I spent all day taking photos today and every single photo I took looked like crap. I am so disappointed. I just sat down and pretty much decided that I am just really really bad at it and don't want to take pictures any more. I can't even find anything interesting to photograph at my house. I am sure someone creative could find lots of interesting things but I just can't. What do you guys think? Can a person learn to be creative?


Yes, it is a foolish question.
Yes, we can learn creativity.
I also spent all day shooting, and my harvest looks probably looks much like yours.
I am not disappointed at all. The muse plain stood me up.
Everyone I've ever known to be creative was inspired by something or someone or a way of looking at things.
The first thing we learn when we learn something is that there are things we did not before know were there.
The second lesson we learn is that there are things everywhere but that we know very little of them.
The third lesson is that we need to learn to discriminate without removing ourselves so far from a thing that we can no longer feel it.

Well, there's more, but, hey, it's a start.



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