Thursday, January 14, 2010

What is Creativity?

Tough question, almost as hard as asking “What is the meaning of life?”

There is a general consensus of some parts and with my own experiences I will try and give my insights.

For the most part I think every human has innate creativity built within his or her collective genes. It is part of what truly makes us human and able to enjoy the richness and splendor of everyday life.

I also think that there is a formula that helps us unleash, expand and bring to life our creative thoughts.

Creative expressions = Desire + opportunity + technical skills

I am not really sure whether it is Plus, Boolean or other funny mathematical operators but the order does show relative importance, as I understand it.

The images I am displaying here are from an evening where I walked about looking for things that interested me.  Wasn’t sure what would develop but that was the fun part and it lead to one image I really liked and seemed to work that I wrote about in this article.

What I Saw, My Camera Captured and What My Mind Thought it Saw .

There was something that attracted me with the light at the door and walls peering through the trees.  Not every image can be a best seller and some are just for me to enjoy.


This is the key element and without this the other 2 don’t mean much.
It’s often called by other names such as passion, inspiration or even the muses.
It doesn’t have to be big or grand, just a willingness or urge to take something that stirs the mind and unfolds it for you or others in a form where they can see the same vision.

Since you are reading this article and probably other blogs, then the desire is already strong now.

 The lights provided an interesting lead into the bistro and the end of the alley. I just wish that there had been a couple sitting to really ad that strong interest.


For me this is the key element. Opportunity can be pure happenstance where by luck you have a camera with you and then the right scene at the right time presents itself.
This is great when it happens but what is the success rate with this mode?

Success can be increased. It is a lot like fitness training whereby the more you train the more you can do, both in the gym and in your everyday life.

Why not apply fitness-training techniques to your photographic and artistic growth. This part is not learning technical skills with the camera or understanding compositions, it is a lot like endurance training. IF you run a full marathon, as opposed to a half, you get to see more along the route.

That’s why I wrote this article, as a lead-in to the series of “10 photographic projects” that I firmly believe will help. I was going to write my standard one page article listing 10 projects that will help you improve your abilities to create.

I was concerned that to give it proper scope it would be too long and not enough of you would read all of it. Many blog readers tend to skim after a few paragraphs.

Therefore, I will provide more detail for each of these photo projects so that I can better articulate the benefits and joys and sometimes frustrations with each project. Some will only contain one project, others may include 2. These will also be of a greater frequency (2-3 days apart) than I normally produce to ensure that interest remains strong.

I came across a group taking night photography lessons. The tripod just seemed to compliment the legs of the giant spider.  With the slow shutter, you will see some people who are clear as they stood still and others blurry who were moving. I couldn’t find an image that was really strong, as I would have had to move the tripods of the other photographers and since it was a walk about, I didn’t feel like asking each one of them. Maybe next time.

Technical skills

I find this part has 2 components:

Skill with camera: being able to capture the image as desired by using exposure, DOF, focal length, shutter speed. There are many blogs that will help you here, such as

Digital Photography School
Epic Edits
Your Photo Tips

Compositional skills: Understanding how lines, shapes, colours, contrast, soft and hard edges, subject position all help the viewer to move the eye around the image and thereby creating a stronger story or emotion from your image.

George Barrr has written several books on creativity  and provides this advice on  Behind The Lens

These are focus of most of my articles.

I can’t say that I have all the right answers or even understand it completely. Not sure anyone does, but it has been my passion all my life and along that journey I learned some things that I enjoy sharing with you.  Even to this date I still learn from you and others, which is the great part about the blogging community.

Niels Henriksen

1 comment:

Austin Parkar said...

Yes, I totally agree with "Creative expressions = Desire + opportunity + technical skills"

Thanks for Nice Post.

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