My introduction to photography began in 2003, around the same time I became the gardening columnist for a local newspaper. I used a Sony Cyber-shot camera for most of the photographs I took, and it was a great camera for someone like me who didn’t know anything about DSLRs at that time. It did everything I needed it to do: make good photos for my column, and that was about all I was interested in back then. I wrote for the paper seven years, but as they say, “nothing lasts forever” and I found myself out of a job. By then the photography bug had bitten, and the creative spark it ignited within me remained undisturbed until recently.
The spark was flamed last February after I noticed members of a Facebook Photography Group selling used cameras. I began wondering about the possibilities of what I might do with one of those “fancy” cameras so I commented that I was interested in buying one. I purchased my first DSLR camera a couple of weeks later. This new creative endeavor didn’t make a grand appearance; bells or whistles didn’t sound, there was no all of a sudden realization. All I knew was that something was speaking to me from a place inside, the place where creativity lives.
I believe all sentient beings are creative beings. If that weren’t so I don’t think there would be a Facebook or Instagram, bicycles, ice cream or bologna. Maybe we’d be dull objects floating around in an abyss of muck. I’ll not go too deep into all that. So, how are we supposed to latch onto creativity if we’re not aware of it being within us in the first place? How do we know whether we are creative or not? If you know how to write, tie your shoes, ride a bike, count to ten, then you’re creative. You just need to listen more intently to that voice that taught you all those things.
I didn’t know anything about the exposure triangle, rule of thirds, Photoshop or Lightroom before the creative impulse of photography sparked. I didn’t know anything about pencils, shoe laces, wheels, or counting either. I believe creativity plays a role in teaching us simple things as well as things that are much harder to learn, like DSLR photography. It’s important for us to learn on our own as well, listening more intently to what our inner voice is telling us is a learned habit I think.
When you start paying more attention to what you are feeling inside you begin to realize and know the difference between good impulses and not so good ones; I knew I could make a decent photograph; a good creative impulse to follow. I know how to count to ten, but I sure don’t know the mathematical formula for calculating exponential negative integers to the Nth power; algebra and/or calculus would be a bad creative impulse for me to follow. My inner voice helps me determine good and bad impulses, the creative impulse that is good is one that speaks to you in such a way that you clearly understand.
Once you begin listening to your inner voice it’s very important for you to nurture it so that those good creative impulses continue to appear and grow. How do you nurture your inner voice? Simply put, you make time for yourself. I find a quiet place, it could be anywhere, and meditate for ten or 15 minutes. Clear your mind from the clutter of everyday life and concentrate on breathing – inhale through your nose (without raising your shoulders, this forces you to take deep breaths using your diaphragm), take at least a 4-second breath, then slowly exhale through your mouth being sure to completely deflate your lungs. This breathing exercise is very relaxing, allowing you the perfect opportunity to listen. It’s a part of my daily routine, and so is listening to what my inner voice might be telling me about photography.