Do you ever feel uninspired with life, like all the color has gone away and you're just living a day to day existence that feels lacking. And you wonder how some other people seem to stay happy and inspired….how do they do it? The answer I believe is that happy people know how to tap into their creativity.
Working on this blog as a creative project for the past few years, I've realized that anyone can learn to be more creative, even me. I always thought I was a creative person at heart, but never really found my creative medium in life until I discovered photography and blogging. But your medium for creativity can come in many forms; maybe you like to decorate your home, or cook, or style cute outfits for your kids, or put together great presentations for your work clients. But how can you learn to be more creative exactly? I think there are 2 main ways to tap into your creativity. First, foster a lifestyle that unlocks your creative potential. Second, realize there is a methodology for the creative process.
Foster a lifestyle that unlocks your creative potential:
Start simply by creating peace for yourself. Our lives are full of distractions and demands that never go away, but as soon as you make a commitment to yourself and put your own peace as a priority, you will start to feel more creative. Make it a priority to eat well, exercise and rest. Get out in nature and listen to the messages she has for you. Think about the things that make you feel happiest and do more of those things….less of the ones that make you feel stressed. Tidy up your house, clear up the clutter, see how the energy shifts and you feel more relaxed. Stretch your senses; eat a new food, sit in the woods with your eyes closed and listen to what you can hear, go out in the backyard after it rains and smell the air, travel to a new place, meet a new person. Appreciate all art and music. Read. Meditate. Daydream. These are all ways in which you will make yourself more able to tap into your creative mind and potential.
Realize there is a methodology for the creative process:
When doing some research for this blog post, I found out that in 1926 a man by the name of Graham Wallas documented the 4 stages of creativity as "preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification"…..this model came up again and again on my web searches for creative process. Now I doubt that someone like Van Gogh, for example, consciously followed any kind of creative process. But most of us are not like Van Gogh, and at least knowing a framework for creative process may help you become more creative. Then you can specialize that framework for your type of creative work in order to produce more, work your way through creative blocks, or identify areas for improvement.
Here are the steps I came up with for creative process related to photoshoots and how it lines up with Wallas' model.
1. discovery, problem or project defined: This is the stage where I identify who or what I'm going to shoot and the basic goal of the shoot. For example, I'm going to shoot how to make potato salad, with the end result being images for a recipe blog post. Or, I'm going to shoot a young woman model wearing a certain outfit, with the end result being images for a boutique's website. Or, I'm asked to take photos at my friends' wedding, the end result being to document the most important day of her life with beautiful images.
2. gathering ideas, research and visualization: This is the stage where I brainstorm for the project. I'll look at recipes on pinterest, or wedding photos on all my favorite photographer blogs, or think about the outfit we are shooting and come up with a location to complement the clothes. If the shoot is collaborative, I'll talk with the model and get her ideas too. I will try to actually visualize what I want the photos to look like, the feeling I want them to have, the color palette, think of any props that could be needed. I imagine what the background, middle ground, and foreground of the photos will look like. I'll scout for locations, observing the light and setting in detail. My step 1 and 2 here line up to Wallas' "preparation" stage, but also move into his "incubation" stage, since when I'm in the gathering ideas and visualization stage I usually have a few days where I step away from the problem too and let my subconscious mind work on it.
3. ah ha moment: This is the stage where I finally have the vision clear for the shoot, and I've solved all the problems in my mind that I can predict will come up. And I feel a spark of excitement at how the vision is coming together, and usually relief that I have a plan. This is Wallas' "illumination" stage.
4. action: This is the stage where the actual creation of the raw photos happens. If the shoot is well coordinated, and I've done a good job on stages 1-3, then I am well prepared for the action. Now to relax and turn on my best creative mind and heart. Take my time during the shoot, enjoy it, and stop for pauses during the whole process, concentrate on quality shots vs quantity. It's kind of a mini creative process in itself on the day of the shoot. I'll always think of new shots that I didn't visualize, or maybe some of the shots I dreamed about won't work out, but other ones will.
5. post process: This is the stage where I download the photos off the camera and see if my vision came true. I begin the selection and editing process which may take a few days to complete. This is again like a mini whole creative process in itself.
6. sharing and feedback: Last stage is to post the images on the blog or deliver them to the subject and gain their reaction. These last 3 steps all relate to Wallas' "verification" stage. This is the stage that validates if the creative process worked.
These creative method steps can be applied to basically any creative project if you think about it. You may find that some projects never make it past the preparation stage (I have lots of these), but maybe these are just ideas in incubation and may still yet reach illumination….and then hopefully verification.
How do you keep creatively inspired? Do you have any thoughts on creative process…would love to hear from you!