This post is a reflective one from my lifelong learning journey and I wanted to share my insights in the hopes that it help you as much as it did me. With the hustle and bustle of work and family life, we can feel like we hit a wall at times and finding new ways to re-energize oneself is invaluable. We’ve all said at one time or another, we would love to be more creative and I find it fascinating how opportunities arise and the decisions we make in those micro moments can make such an imprint on our lives.
Two summers ago I attended an event in the park and decided to bring along my camera, which I was just hoping to get acquainted with. While there I met an entrepreneur that had been stood up by her photographer and after we got to talking she asked if I wanted to fill in, to which – any gentleman finding themselves in that position would say – YES. That decision to support her in that moment has provided far more value than anyone could have imagined.
So how exactly has photography helped me become more creative?
Awareness – How many of you have been a tourist in your own city? Instantly, you start seeing things that you’ve never noticed, even though you’ve been there a million times. Becoming a photographer trains you to see things through a different lens. Composition, light, shadows, things that once seemed unimportant, now standout and so is your heightened awareness of your surroundings. Let’s try an exercise here for a moment. Set the timer on your phone for 3 minutes, and draft a list of all the things you can do with a blank 8×11 sheet of paper. Then do the same exercise 4 hours later, without repeating anything you had on the list prior.
By being more aware of your surroundings this exercise takes on new light and you start to see what was always there – differently. In other words, you start seeing what isn’t obvious to the eye, and this is an essential part of being creative when problem solving – seeing beyond what you see.
Patience – Once I got into street photography my level of awareness as noted above was really challenged, because essentially you’ve got a totally open canvas. Anyone or anything can be the subject of your photo, not to mention timing – being in the right place at the right time. So how does this relate to creativity? When your awareness is heightened and you’re already focused on the problem you seek to solve the next best think you can do is take a break, step away, let your subconscious mull over the challenge for a while. Some of my best photos have come when I stop over thinking and over analyzing the details of a photo. In other words to be creative, stop trying to be creative. It’s sounds simple enough but we’re all guilty of this creativity killer.
There’s great value in becoming more creative and as a matter of fact, the World Economic Forum recently put out it’s report on the Top 10 Skills to Possess for Success in 2020. Creativity was number three (#3) on that list, preceded by Complex Problem Solving and Critical Thinking respectively. We all need a little inspiration at times and as long as the muse is positive we should indulge ourselves because the innovative solutions required to solve complex problems of today and tomorrow will require us all to have a methodology or formula for igniting creativity.