Forced Creativity: You Can Lead a Horse To Water ...
Thursday 18 October 2012 — Category: Thoughts
Now that Oregon’s nine-month rainy season began last week, nice weather to go out and take photos is much harder to come by. So when the few and precious sunny days come along, you really feel an obligation to head out and make the most of it.
The weather forecast was sunny today, followed by eight or nine days of rain. Therefore, even though I didn’t really feel motivated, I got up early and forced myself to go out on one of my Local Photography Rambles — which I had promised myself, and announced publicly, that I would do regularly and often.
So off I went, rambling the backroads south of Albany and Corvallis, along the Willamette River for over an hour before I finally got so fed up that I headed for home. You wanna know how many pictures I took during this outing? None, zero, zilch, nada! I just was - not - in - the - mood!!!
Taking pictures is not simply a matter of pressings a shutter-release button with your index finger. A machine or even an animal could do that!
No, the essence of photography is in the human brain, not in a camera or the finger clicking its shutter. Creative vision is where a photo begins, then the photographer attempts to capture that psychic vision using camera equipment and his skill in using that equipment.
It seems to me that, in the end, this is not something that can be forced. In my case, forcing creative vision seemed to have the opposite effect — my creativity was stifled and suffocated.
I drove around for about an hour, feeling uninspired and disengaged. It all seemed so pointless. Why did I need yet another photo of a sunrise, or a tree, or anything else?
Also, taking pictures by auto was frustrating. I might see something interesting going 55 MPH down the road, but by the time I might be able to stop, the location and the moment had passed. It was difficult to find a place along the side of the road to stop, and there were often cars right behind me. The longer I kept driving, the more frustrated I became.
In addition, I was feeling a lot of pressure from myself to come up with some great shots. I am constantly viewing awesome photos from photographers around the world, in magazines and online. They go out and get great shots, and I want to be as good as them. I felt that if I didn’t come home with some good pictures, then I would be a failure as a photographer ... just not good enough. All this pressure seemed to totally shut down my motivation and creativity. Coming up with great shots was too hard for me, and I just couldn’t do it.
After an hour of this, I finally got fed up and headed for home. I was out to “take pictures,” but it just wasn’t working. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Then there is also the issue of flogging a dead horse!
I should have just stayed at home, working on my backlog of hundreds of pictures which need processing. That would have been a lot better use of my time. Well, live and learn. Next time, I’m not going out to take photos unless I really WANT to, not just because I feel I should!