This is the first part of four posts aimed at revitalising, refreshing your visual imagination to generate more creative energy. Over the years, many have asked me about how to deal with feeling stale, how to
regain their early enthusiasm.
Essentially, it’s all available as it all comes from within you. So these ideas are about how to let out what you already have, and how to encourage the enthusiasm to flow. You have it in you to create. Believe that, and you will open the door to the dynamic of your creativity.
Helping your photography matters to me. I believe that the love of photography that you have — that I share — is one of the forces that helps make the world a better place. This is because photography opens our eyes to appreciate the world: the beauty of other people, gorgeous landscapes, the life of this wonderful planet — the good, the bad and the nasty. Photography makes us more aware. And awareness is an essential step towards love and respect. These in turn lead to us caring and preserving what is good.
Remember the beauty of photography is that you can always work at your own pace, in your own time. You’re not racing against anyone. Give yourself time to work at these ideas and exercises to give them a chance to make a difference. Many don’t make immediate, dramatic differences: they aren’t magic spells or nervous system drugs. It’s all step-wise, subtle and gradual. Learn to feel soft differences and changes within yourself. Soft and quiet are the changes that will last and develop within you.
If you find there are any suggestions you don’t like, it’s worth looking at the reasons for your reaction. It may be telling you something.
Dislike is not always because it’s not right for you, but because it demands more work and more effort than you’re willing to give. Take your time to look into why that could be. Indeed, strong resistance to a change or suggestion often actually pin-points exactly what is holding you back.
A few practical suggestions for you:
• Get yourself a notebook, if you haven’t already: A5 or around 15x21cm or 6×8 inch in size is popular because it’s small enough to pack and carry around easily, but it’s large enough to write a decent page’s worth or scribble in loosely. Keep it with you at all times. NB: many people think a tablet like Galaxy or iPad will be easier to work, then find it’s not as spontaneous or easy to use. But if they work for you, go for it!
• Get yourself a rollerball or gel ink pen to write with. These cost a bit more than ball-points but produce a better, clearer line more easily that is more readable. For the clearest lines which are easiest to write, use a fountain pen but these are not the most convenient to use and cheap pens are often unreliable.
• Give yourself a break from looking at your own photographs for the two weeks. By the way, this doesn’t mean you stop photographing. Just that you don’t look at your pictures. That in itself is quite a discipline! Instead, look at monographs or collections of great old photographs and books on the history of photography.
If you’re not sure what you’d like to look at or who to read up, there is a book called ‘Photography – the definitive visual history‘ published by Dorling Kindersley which, ahem, I wrote. It’s as good a place to start as any to take in the vast canvas of photographic styles and approaches and to be inspired by the work of photographers whose work has stood the tides of fashion.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of adsorbing other, challenging, historic images, as it not only enriches your experience of photography, the examples of great work starts to affect your brain and shape what you see and what you seek. And it’s my strong recommendation that you give yourself a break from sites such as Flickr, 500px, Instagram, 1X … you get the idea. It’s like having too much ice-cream: sweet, easy, addictive and, ultimately, not nutritious.
In the next post, I’ll get to the first group of ten simple measures to revitalise yourself emotionally.
Nothing difficult, nothing need lots of money to achieve, and some you will likely be familiar with. You may do some of these things anyway, but now your objective is to revitalise yourself emotionally, and visually.
See yourself as rushing off with great energy, your eyes blazing, heart beating fast, eager to locate the images you already see in your mind. Full excitement, you venture with energy flowing from your hands, your mind sharp and alert and full of love. See yourself in that state. You can remember times you felt like that, so feel it!