Learning about creativity through photography

I have been learning to be a better photographer for many years, as well as  writing about and facilitating creativity. So, it is natural to connect these two spheres and ask, what am I learning about creativity through photography?  This is what I want to share with you today.

Starting with photography, the first point  I want to make is how important it is to learn the technical skills of photography. This requirement never stops, as technology evolves and as our skills develop there is always more to learn. However, as a baseline there are some skills that are essential before you can start to enjoy your photography shoots.

Technical skills

  • ‘Know your camera’ is a phrase I hear so often and which for me, someone who doesn’t read technical manuals willingly, is painful to hear. However, it is very true. If you must spend precious time checking your camera each time you reach for it, then the shot may be lost. I don’t mean the obvious checks, like is the battery fully charged, is there a card in the camera and even what ISO is it currently set at. These are essential before you even step out of the door. It is the other aspects; how do I change the settings to…? which is the button for this? So, have a good knowledge of all the buttons and settings on your camera before you set out. This is a must if you want to be in the moment when taking photographs.
  • There are compositional skills to be aware of, even if later you choose to ignore them: Rule of thirds, leading lines, negative space for example. It is important to understand why they are ‘rules’ and how they enhance your photography.
  • Then there are editing skills. I like to keep editing light and to have spent the time to get a good photo without much editing, however understanding editing software will be very helpful in making those final touches.

Yes,  a great photo may be due to beginners’ luck.  However, it requires  knowledge and skill to be able to stop and take a photo in the moment and capture it as you see it.

Then after technical skills, there are other aspects to consider:

Motivation. I will also include perseverance and persistence here. We need to be motivated to pick up our cameras and all other equipment and set out mindfully to take photographs. This year with its endless restrictions and lockdowns, I have certainly lost my motivation. This is something that I am aware I need to work on. Roll on 2021!

Inspiration is something that I need to get me motivated. I need to be inspired to set out to take photographs. What inspires you? The beauty of the landscape, the street with all its noise and activity, the quiet moments when the sun is rising or setting? Find that inspiration and go with it.

Mindfulness which I associate with observing and seeing what is happening around you is important. To be in the moment and not distracted. My best photos have come from the times when I have been absorbed by my surroundings. When I was not in a rush to get somewhere else or distracted by other thoughts or actions to take. This can lead us into  a state of flow, which Csikszentmihalyi describes as happiness in which we can lose all sense of time.

So, what do these points tell me about creativity in general and how does this relate to creativity in business?

To review how these ideas resonate with creativity in business I recommend the  work that Teresa Amabile  has done on identifying  ideal conditions for creativity at work. She asserts that in order to encourage creativity, it is important to have expertise, creative thinking skills and intrinsic motivation.

Creative thinking skills include:

  • ability to problem-solve in an open, positive and playful way,
  • being able and willing to challenge assumptions, both our own and others,
  • reframing our perspective.

When these three conditions interact, then creativity can emerge.

You can apply all of these to the creative realm of photography or any other creative activity.

Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached women and men in a variety of corporate settings, and has developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently co-authored a book on creativity for leaders, called Creativity Cycling , with Dr. Tracy Stanley. 

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