November 16, 2009

Creativity – Reinvention or Style?

@zarias..my photog equivalent of the ghosts of Christmas present/future...About 29 days ago, one of my fab 4 photogs (Zack Arias) seemed to be in the middle of a twittering introspect on creativity.....

"Is there anything that hasn't already been shot?" - "Nope." Gotta take what's done and flip it. Somehow."

"I can hire 50 photographers to shoot that picture. Why am I going to hire you?" - Me to myself in my head.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone can shoot that. What do you have that's different?" - Me to myself in my head.

Can't reinvent the wheel on every shoot. Heck, at times we aren't supposed to reinvent the wheel. But the personal work. That needs a twist.

Of my fab 4, Zack seems to haunt me the most into an introspective look at my path in photography.  In a way he is my combined ghost of Christmas present and future.  With Zack I seem to be more "brought to cause" by his imprint in my life than the other 3.  So as I read those tweets, the title of this blog came to mind and I jotted it and the tweets down for an expounding on at a later date.

As the days have passed,  I have found myself vacillating back and forth on what creativity means to me as a photographer...The antisepticated definition of creativity from dictionary.com:

"The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts."

Creativity...Inspired?...New?...Certainly not copycat?...Style?  How the hell do you attain it?  Are you born with it?  Is it like singing?  Can you learn it, or do you have to already have the talent in order to build it?  Some seem to have it already pre-built, while others have to nurture it, and other just flat don't have it.

As I think about the topic, I find a possible four step progression of the creative newb to the master....Study, Style, Reinvention, and Invention, the last of which is the BFG of creativity, in my mind.  This is the level one frickin CREATES creativity the likes of which all other levels are a mimic of in one manner or another.

STUDY:   Here is where the newb study's the work of others and learns the technical foundation of the art to which they are aspiring to master.  In photography it's studying professional photogs, learning composition, exposure, lighting, texture, weight, lines. etc.  You mimic to create as you build on the foundations of technical proficiency.

STYLE:  If you are lucky and you truly have the creative in you, you get to this level.  Here again, I find myself haunted by something Zack has stated in the past.  A photographer reaches a new level when finally the photog can apply a unique style to the photographic process that pins itself to the solid foundations of exposure and composition.

Reinvention:  Now your reaching the master level.  Here you are transcending the traditional ideas, rules, patterns and the like.  Here you are able to manipulate the foundations and infuse the style to something original and progressive.

Invention:  You've reached bad-ass now.  You lay a new foundation for others to study, stylize and mold.

Am I happy where I'm at today as a photog?  Yup.  I love photography and I'm happiest whilst in the midst of a shoot.  Am I content with where I'm at today as a photog? Nope.  Still trying to figure out the style part.  I'm disgusted.  I want to break free of my study and begin to style.  But without apprenticeship or formal study, I'm stuck with the self study and it's a slow frickin' road.

Later,

Mike