By education and career, I'm a scientist and CEO. Two things not associated with being creative. Both are very creative and the best in both fields do well when they are creative. In this post, I'm talking mostly about how to cultivate creativity in artistic pursuits, or photography. The same things I do are and can be applied by anyone who wants more creativity in their lives, be it as a chemist or artist.
To juggle being a Mom, CEO, volunteer, photographer, and writer; I've learned to structure my days and prioritize like a dog digging a hole. It is a very narrow vision I operate in most of the time. Often the opposite of cultivating creativity. But my core is curious and wants to create. Or be creative.
In photography, there are two ways in which creativity is expressed; the first is in recognizing what is worthy of a photograph and how one can express the emotion of how that feels, the second is in having a vision or novel idea one wishes to express.
Here is a list of things I do to keep me open to creativity and cultivate creativity when I want it.
- Meditation - Practicing Vipassana or Insight Meditation (Buddhist Meditation) has had a profound effect on my life in many ways. In regards to creativity, meditation helps me to do two things. First, the practice has helped train my brain to slow down and get into the flow when I'm working on a photo or want to be very present while shooting a subject. Second, one of the best results of meditation is how you become more aware of the subtle in life. Our brains are ruled by what we call the "monkey brain," AKA the internal voice of ours that jumps from thought to thought, adding judgment in everything we do. Training a brain to move beyond that allows you to see the world with a less foggy lens. Instead of driving down the highway, lost in thoughts of all the things you have to do today, you notice the perfect light around you and a subject that needs to be photographed. Something you would have normally just driven by and never noticed.
- Travel - A person who has traveled is the wisest person I'll ever know. It should be a requirement for everyone to travel abroad. The education one receives is golden. For creativity, travel gets you out of your usual. Forces you to take in new smells and sights that force the brain to work differently. The filters our brain puts in place to keep us from getting a firehose of information is shuffled. We see more and think more when we are out of our element.
- Read - Countless times I've read the words of others and it sparks a novel idea or thought in my mind. A new way of thinking. Or a new way of seeing. From literature to non-fiction, seeing the world through the eyes of another is almost as good as travel.
- Tinker - My son calls it play. I call it tinkering when you are an adult. I give myself time to play with things. From new gadgets to learning how to pull an axle from my Jeep. What if I did this or did that. Tinkering can be physical, as in pulling an axle or it can be in the mind, as in what if I traveled to this far off place. Even writing I see as tinkering. Often playing with a Haiku or crafting a paragraph to flow a certain way.
- Discover new art - As obvious as it sounds, go to art galleries, art museums, etc.
- Study art masters - Rembrandt to Hudson River School painters. See how they painted light and played with color theory. Those same things can be applied to photography.
- Play with my child - Ultimate in curiosity, my son. Follow a child for a few hours and look at the world differently.
- Push myself beyond my fears - Getting beyond your comfort level changes your perspective. See with new eyes.
- Journal - Not only will it improve your writing but it clarifies your thoughts. These are the same skills you need in clarifying why you are photographing a subject. And, you can take note of a scene to come back to or why the light was so good.