On Creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after growing up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Why is this such a problem?

When I was 5 or 6 I was a clown, a real ham. Then something changed. Was it school? I don’t know. I got shy. Like catching leprosy or something.

It’s more than just playfulness and silliness. Those can be practiced. No, there’s a deeper issue at hand.

It seems to me that true creativity, inspired creation, comes from
the soul. It’s like we get into a zen-like state, sometimes for a moment or sometimes for hours on end, where everything which would silence the voice of the soul has been rendered ineffective. Life itself shines out like light through a keyhole, allowing us to see beyond the door for a moment.

How do we harness the ability to open that door on demand? We need a key. I have no concrete answers, but I do think it starts with being completely in the moment. When you’re not worried about anyone or anything, not thinking about the past or planning or the future, but just soaking up the moment and allowing yourself to be an integral part of that moment.

I’m sitting on a 777 bound for Hawaii, listening to Norah Jones music and watching something on the in-flight TV about lightning. Is that Bob Krist? I’ve caught up on all the Craft And Vision e-books. And I’m wondering if I’ll be creative. If hope is all it takes, it’s sure to be a successful trip, but I know it’s not that simple. Did I send the mortgage payment? D’oh! Oops, I guess this ‘being in the moment’ thing won’t be easy. The best things in life never are.



Vision Quest

No, not the movie.


I mean photographic vision. Expression. Maybe even art.

It’s summertime for half the planet. If you’ve waited all winter to photograph fields of corn and wheat and sunflowers, and wildflowers and cherry blossoms and elk in full velvet and birds’ mating dances and bikinis at the beach, and all that great stuff … what are you waiting for? Now it’s too hot? The mosquitos are eating you alive and you’re worried about West Nile Virus? Your camera isn’t what you think it should be? You have no idea what to photograph?

I feel your pain. I can make excuses until long after opportunity has left town. But that doesn’t get me anywhere.

We don’t practice  this craft to learn how to realize our vision. We must stop worrying about reaching the destination, and start enjoying the journey. Expressing oneself is a life-long process, a process we must learn to love.

And it really helps if you love to learn. If you love to learn, you might just have an easier time enjoying the journey.


I write this as I prepare for a wonderful island vacation. Two weeks of tropical sunrises and ocean waves. How will I express how I revel in the island atmosphere and the ocean’s calm mystery?

I love the idea of “ready, fire, aim” instead of “ready, aim, fire”. Sometimes all the preparation in the world is not as accurate in the long run as making corrections in real time and trying again. Since photography is a life-long process, so why should we try to perfect it by midnight on Tuesday?

It’s like driving – you don’t just line up between the lines, point toward the horizon, and expect to drive perfectly straight from Chicago to L.A. You’ll be in a ditch before you can say “steering wheel”. It’s about making small corrections over and over, and appreciating the scenery along the way. What does this have to do with photography? If you’re stuck, make an image. Don’t like it? Change it up a bit and see if you like the improvement. Keep making images. Fire! Aim again. Fire! Make small corrections and try again. Let the process carry you. Pretty soon you’ll be making amazing images and showing everyone around who is willing to look. Just don’t call it “luck”. You worked to get that image.

Just don’t forget the mosquito repellant and extra water.

So it’s wintertime in the other half, huh? It would be wonderful to see what that’s like. Someday. 🙂