Who Are You Creatively?

This article was first published in Outdoor Photography Canada just over a year ago, to get these articles fresh from the press be sure to subscribe to the magazine!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Who Are you Creatively?

Why do you make photographs? Some people will answer that they make photographs because they want to document their travels or important events in their lives. Others are inspired by nature and want to capture this inspiration. And many use photography as a positive escape from the hectic rat race of life (a kind of meditation or mental yoga). But if we dig even deeper I think there is a universal desire, if not a need, for creativity. As kids we are all naturally curious and creative. Unfortunately, these traits get sapped out of us early on as we are taught the ‘values’ of practical education, work, consumption, and conformity. Many of us picked photography as a creative antidote for the homogenous pressures put on us by society.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

But as we learn and practice photography, the ‘ought tos’ start to rear their ugly heads. We are taught about subjects we ought to photograph, locations we ought to visit, compositional rules we ought to follow. In short, over time, the very hobby we took up to express our creativity is stuffed into a box and turned into formula. We suppress our creativity and shoot just what others deem acceptable.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Every so often we need a reset, a reminder to get in touch with who we are and what our inner voice wants to say but that gets drowned out by the yelling of the outside world. Lately, I was feeling out of touch with my creative voice and felt that I was just repeating photographic formulas. My partner, Samantha suggested a little exercise for me to do that would help me determine who I am creatively. She showed me a variety of visual arts from painting to collage. She asked me to pick out pieces that I really liked and then had me write out answers to these questions about each piece:

  1. What do you think this picture is about?
  2. What do you respond to or find interesting in the picture? Why?
  3. Looking at the shape, line, form, texture and colour etc. used by the artist, how do these compositional and material choices help convey the essence of the picture?
©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Together we looked at my art choices and my detailed answers to her questions. We began to notice some themes, ideas, visual elements and even colours common to each piece. Sam suggested that these commonalities were the seeds of my creative voice. Frankly, I was surprised by the results because the imagery I liked was very different than the images I have become known for. But when I looked at my most recent work, there were little hints of this new voice trying to emerge; I was already beginning to use the themes, ideas and visual design elements that I had chosen in Sam’s exercise. It became obvious that I no longer knew myself creatively. Indeed, I had changed significantly but was still trying to force myself to shoot in my old ‘style’. No wonder photography was feeling strained lately. Now that I have discovered with Sam’s help who I am as a creative, the world has opened up for me again. Photography is a playground and I have given myself permission to play once again.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

So if you are feeling a bit lost with your photography, try Sam’s exercise and share and discuss the results with a good friend or fellow photographer. Better yet use the exercise on each other. Often someone else can see easier patterns in your choices that you may subconsciously deny or that you may not want to see. What often emerges from this exercise is the discovery of who you are as a visual creative. That is a powerful revelation. Now go discover your creative voice.

For those wanting more direction on creativity be sure to download our free Born Creative eBook or better yet get our 5 eBook Creative Photography Bundle! Happy shooting!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

7 Comments

  1. Fran Gallogly
    March 18, 2016

    Lovely images/abstractions.

    Reply
  2. Cemal Ekin
    March 19, 2016

    Darwin, I enjoyed your article very much. I have been preaching the ideas of creativity both in my academic teaching as well as photographic life. Indeed I have written several similar posts on my site under “creativity” and “language”. I am very glad to hear we share similar views. May I be bold enough to recommend, if you have not already found it, Sir Ken Robinson, his books and TED videos. You will enjoy them if you enjoyed (or wrote) this article.

    Cemal

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      March 19, 2016

      Thanks Cermal for the recommendation, I will definitely check it out!

  3. Pat Beaudoin
    March 19, 2016

    I would really like to do this exercise but having no luck in finding an online site that offers an effective variety of visual arts, from which to choose my favourites.

    Could you help with a couple of links to good sites for this please?

    Great article, thank you! / Pat

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      March 24, 2016

      For Canadian art links try this site

      Or just go on Google and type in abstract art, famous paintings, contemporary art or any term you want and you’ll get pages of images to look at e.g. here is Google image page for abstract art

  4. Dave Welfare
    March 20, 2016

    I also would appreciate a recommendation on sites if you know of some as I’m interested in doing this exercise.

    I really enjoy your thought provoking articles. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Allison George
    March 22, 2016

    outstanding…outstanding images

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Top