I have heard some photographers say that they knew what their final image would look like before they even pushed the shutter button. They could see in their mind the image they ultimately wanted to create and so they set up everything - the who, the where, the when, the how - in order to gather the raw data they needed to create the image envisioned.
I wonder… is that how it works for you?
I don’t find that happens for me very much. And often I find that if I do have a preconceived notion of what I want to create and I pursue that, I don’t end up liking it as much as when I allow for more spontaneity to come into the process.
Other artists profess the way to find creative brilliance is to focus on the process of making art rather than the end result. I do find that approach rather freeing but I’m not sure that exactly describes how things work for me either.
When I set up and took the image above - I most certainly had no idea it would end up looking like the finished product you see above. The process in fact was one of chance for me. On the morning pictured I was awakened by stray sunbeams flooding through the hotel window thanks to me forgetting to pull the heavy curtains the night before. When I looked out the window I noticed the light was bouncing off the glass and mirror of the buildings in interesting ways so I decided I would see if I could collect some raw data of that. Now, months later I selected this raw file and started to work on it in the digital darkroom (Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop) with the hopes of creating a companion piece for my other new NYC image. There was no plan in the initial capture of the raw data but there was some plan in the processing though admittedly it is not as I had expected.
Maybe how we each make art is a custom blend of planning and spontaneity. And where the individual lies along the line between the two poles has something to do with the limitations or skills you have in the different areas.
I know my own process both in the field capturing the raw data and later in the dark room creating art is a a constant shifting along a middle ground between planning and spontaneity.
When I decide to go out to shoot, I try to set myself up to find beauty or a beautiful story. I will check the time of sunrise or sunset (using the photographers ephemeris app) and the weather and if I heading to a new place, I will research what other photographers have done at that place to see if it can give me a clue as to where others have found beauty. But then I just go because I have found that beauty is usually there - regardless of the time, weather and what others have found before. I show up and stay in tune with what catches my eye.
Later, when I open up the raw file to create an image, again this waffling between planned and spontaneous creating happens. I will sometimes start out with how I want an image to look - but often the end image is a result of allowing myself to experiment and enjoy the process of making art.
So here is my big take away. However you make your art - where ever you fall between planning and spontaneity - is the best way for you to make YOUR art. The point is you are MAKING art. I think it is definitely useful to understand how others do things… there is always something to be learned from others (particularly those who’s art you admire) but the best way for you is just that… the best way for you.
Have fun creating this week my friends!
Sources of Inspiration:
Many things help to inspire my posts - books, movies, conversations... this post I think was largely inspired by a few things I've been reading.
- I have just started reading The Artist's Way - A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. I have owned this book for over 10 years. For some reason I have finally opened it.
- I recently watched a video by Miss Aniela in the Arcanum Grand Library in which she provided a link to this article she wrote. I love her art but also how eloquently she expresses this idea of creating spontaneously.