Every month here at oopoomoo we send out our newsletter with a themed photography assignment. For the month of May our assignment was “Creative Clouds” open to any interpretation. We had a lot of great entries over on our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook page. Thanks everyone for your participation!
Below is a selection of our favourite images submitted. Stay tuned for our June newsletter which will be sent out in a day or two with June’s photo assignment. To sign up for our newsletter click here and get our Born Creative eBook for free.
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.
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.
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:
- What do you think this picture is about?
- What do you respond to or find interesting in the picture? Why?
- 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?
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.
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.
Each month in our oopoomoo newsletter we announce an assignment theme; for January it was shadow and light (#shadowandlight). Below are our selected favorites from the images submitted to our Facebook group or by email. The February theme will be announced shortly so be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get a head start!
This year, Darwin and I decided to curate each other’s images to select what we felt was that photographer’s oopoomoo best for 2015. Just as we stipulated in the oopoomoo Newsletter announcing the challenge, an oopoomoo best had to meet three criteria:
- represent who they are photographically as an artist or demonstrate something they learned this year
- be as well-composed as they can do at their learning level, and
- be taken ethically.
You can see what Darwin picked as my oopoomoo best here. And here is the image I’ve chosen as Darwin’s best image of 2015.
In pouring over Darwin’s work for this year, I’ve noticed a shift in his usual subject matter. Instead of photographing grand landscapes, Darwin has started to concentrate more on intimate studies and abstractions. Some of the same elements of style are present in his work, making them a ‘Darwin shot’, such as a fascination with light and shape and an attraction to colours and tonal contrast. But I sense with this image a refinement perhaps of ‘seeing’, an engagement with the mind rather than just senses. There is many layers to this image and it is quietly intriguing.
This image was taken at Lake O’Hara, probably one of the most iconic of places in the Canadian Rockies. We were standing far uphill on the trail to Opabin Plateau and Mary Lake was being covered by a giant shadow cast by Oderay Mountain as the sun set behind it. Darwin had to work fast to frame and make this shot before the light was gone and the lake covered in shadow. When photographers say that they refuse to photograph iconic places, I feel sorry for them; I suspect they are insecure and may suffer from a lack of imagination. A great photographer can always make a place his own as Darwin does here.
It seems we have touched a nerve with our latest eCourse offering “Resolve:Discover Your Creative Self“. Our first run of the eCourse sold out in three days but we are offering a requested second session January 17 – 23, 2016 with the same introductory 40% discount until December 15 2015. After the 15th we’ll be charging $79.95 for the eCourse. To learn more about this unique photography offering please go to this link. May you have a creative 2016!
If you have been following oopoomoo for awhile, you’ll know that we send out a monthly assignment in our newsletter and participants post their images on the oopoomoo Facebook group. For October our assignment was ‘scaretography’ which was open to interpretation. We received a good response and a selection of participant’s images are shared below. View at your own risk 🙂
Congratulations to everyone on work well done! Stay tuned to the oopoomoo newsletter for the November assignment.
April Henrikson Daly
Most images we make are like flavours of the day. They are wonderful at the time, but soon we long for something new, fresh and tasty. And then there are those images that like fine wine taste better and better as they age. These images we call sleepers, or as Samantha like to say, “they pass the wall test.” These are images that, if hanging on your wall, you don’t grow tired of but enjoy more and more over time. Such images are rare.
We have been asking our oopoomoo Facebook group to post some of their favourite sleeper images every Sunday. These post are categorized under #sleepersundays (some people have mistakenly used #sleepersunday as well – you need to be signed into Facebook for these search terms to work). The results have been inspiring and we invite all photographers to post their sleeper images each Sunday on our Facebook group. Every few months we’ll gather up the most inspirational images and share them here on our blog complete with links to each photographer’s website (we always ask permission in advance). We are planning to start gathering up our faves after this Sunday for our first blog showcase. Join our Facebook group and share your #sleepersundays images… maybe you’ll see your tasty work displayed here on oopoomoo.
Here are some recent sleepers that Samantha and I have shared:
For May our shooting theme over on the oopoomoo workshops Facebook group was ‘shadows’. And, wow, did we get a great bunch of images. Thanks to everyone who participated! Below are our favorite creative interpretations of ‘shadows’ by oopoomoo photographers. If you want to be kept abreast of our latest assignments just subscribe to our newsletter (upper right of this webpage) and you’ll also get our free Born Creative eBook! And if you want to participate in sharing and providing constructive feedback on images be sure to check out our active and fun Facebook group.
It was a tough decision – so many inspiring, unique images entered into our March oopoomoo Newsletter challenge! But we felt there was one portfolio that really gave us hope that spring might be finally here, and that was Gerry Hiebert’s impressionistic, interpretative take on this the season of new beginnings.
What colours do you envision when you think of spring? The fresh green of new grass pushing through the golden straw of yesterday? The blush of fruit blossoms against the purple willow of winter? In a sense, spring and fall are seasons perhaps best described not as entities into themselves but times of transition. That is part of their excitement, the juxtaposition of what is with what is coming.
So that is why we get kinda excited around here when we see an artist working with themes that also explore contrast in such an original way. Using Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) in most of his images, and a soft, bejeweled colour palette, Gerry’s collection perfectly captures the hint of new growth overlaying the old. We are given an impression of what might be left behind and what is yet to come. And isn’t that the bittersweet hope of spring?
Gerry wins one of oopoomoo’s Personalized Portfolio Reviews and we look forward to seeing more images from this creative artist. If you want to be informed about our next photo challenge be sure to sign up for the oopoomoo newsletter.
Many of us only do photography when we have something to take pictures of: a birthday party, a vacation, an iconic destination, a portrait, an owl in a tree etc. We take pictures of things… we rarely make images of our ‘feelings about things’.
Our feelings are always trying to emerge in our photography but are often suppressed by our obsession over gear, concerns about technique, and worries about what others will think of our photos. Our egos often get in the way of expressive image making. And so the results of our photography are impersonal, predictable and clichéd. After a while we are not even sure why we take photos and we become bored with our work.
To remedy the boredom and get back in touch with why we take photos, Samantha and I recommend doing a personal photography project. It’s best if the project is something simple and achievable. Don’t try some grand epic project or you’re bound to fail – start small and make it fun. And give yourself a deadline and an outcome: when will you finish and how are you going to collate or present your work?
For example, my personal photo project for the next six months will be a weekly photo walk. Once a week, starting with the week of January 12, I will pick up my camera and head out on a two to three hour walk and make images of things I find interesting. I might walk in my neighborhood, meander in a city park or stroll in nature.
Why a walk?
I chose a weekly photo walk for three reasons. First, walking is environmentally friendly. I just walk from wherever I am. No driving involved! Second, walking is healthy for body and spirit. Third, walking slows you down giving you time to look around and see; I’ll get to know an area much more intimately which is important because for the next six months Samantha and I will be house and pet sitting in different locations in Alberta. What better way to learn about a new place than by walking in it? After each walk I’ll write a short journal entry about the experience and process any images I made.
What is the outcome?
Once a month I’ll share a story or two of my walking journeys here on the blog. The final result of the weekly walks will be a hand-made, hand-bound journal of my photos and writings that will be completed by July 30.
What’s in it for you?
So… we encourage you to come up with a project that excites your creative spirit. If you like the idea of the weekly photo walk, then feel free to lace up your boots and join me on the journey. Glad to have you along!
If you have a different project in mind then we encourage you to share your idea and your deadline for the output (e.g. a book, print show, eBook, or online gallery). Feel free to post your project idea and photo results from your project, or the weekly walk, at any time over on our oopoomoo Facebook group. There you’ll get encouragement and advice from fellow oopoomians. If you’re not on Facebook feel free to email me at email@example.com and tell me about your project or just share images from your weekly walk. Samantha and I will select some of your project ideas or weekly walk results to highlight here on the oopoomoo blog, with your permission of course. As well, we may give out a prize or two just to keep things interesting, hint, hint 😉
Good luck with all your projects. We are excited to see what you come up with!