Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Every day brings a chance
To kick off your shoes and dance - Oprah Winfrey.
I love spring. It brings new life and an abundance of colour to the natural world around us. It symbolises hope, an end to the dark days of winter and a look forward in anticipation of more warmth and light to come. In a time when negativity is coming at us from every quarter, I think it is important to try to find some seeds of positivity to give us hope, no matter how small these might be. This could be in the form of the lone blade of green growing among the rocks, a tiny bud that heralds the end of winter, words of kindness or comfort from an unexpected source or the inspiration offered by an unknown blogger.
It is heartening to see the number of people who are putting time, energy and love into creating beautiful things. Maybe now, more than ever, we need creative people and we need to support creative people in their endeavours. I am fortunate to live in a country that has produced its fair share of creativity, whether in the form of world class literature, music, poetry or, more recently, in the world of film. In recent times we have seen a country-wide resurgence in the number of craftsmen and craftswomen who are creating beautiful arts and crafts, exquisite jewellery and award-winning artisan foods of all descriptions. In all of these pursuits people are investing part of themselves, their own particular vision, in creations which enrich them as human beings as well as enriching the culture in which they work.
In every culture it is the creators who carry on traditions, who respect ancestry, who appreciate the raw materials of their craft. It is creators who invest time and patience into their craft so that their end product will be something of which they can be proud. Whatever the art form might be, a creation is an expression of the inner voice of the creator, and photography as an art from is no exception. While photography can be about making money or gaining approval on social media, it can also, through the images we make and share, be a way of showing how we view the world, of expressing what is important to us.
While photography certainly has technical aspects, as indeed do many crafts, it is also a creative process, a process which is really about the inner journey of the photographer; about paying attention to what is special in life and finding ways to present this experience to the world. In a world largely focused on creating wealth, with a resulting emphasis on power and greed, anything that helps us become more reflective, more attentive, more meditative, has to be lauded as an alternative. To spend time working a photography scene, waiting for the best light, planning so that we compose in the most effective way, involves a process which is very different to the snapshots taken with a mobile phone at every possible opportunity so that we can ‘share’ them immediately. This process involves time and thought and an investment of part of our selves as human beings. We may not create masterpieces but we can nonetheless consider ourselves to be involved in a creative process, a process that continues to give as we continue to learn and grow. In photography, as in most creative endeavours, it is the intent which is important. I need to ask myself, am I taking photographs to gain the approval of others or am I taking photographs to enrich the lives of others by sharing something in which I have invested part of myself? If the latter is my motive then my pursuit of photography will feed my creative desire and enhance my life by providing fuel for body, mind and spirit.
I believe that creativity is good for us – for both the outer and the inner body. When we are creative we stretch ourselves as human beings. We develop our own ideas and begin to understand and trust ourselves more. Being creative helps us learn to appreciate our own capabilities. It helps us move beyond our own perceived limitations as to what we can achieve and it can lead to a real sense of satisfaction. It helps us to become more innovative thinkers and better problem solvers. It teaches us patience, tolerance, and, often, humility. Being creative involves investing time in our pursuit, allotting value to what we do, paying attention to the learning and the journey rather than the destination. Being creative slows us down, helps us realise what is important, and, whether it is creating a beautiful flower patch in our garden or painting the next masterpiece, being creative takes us on a journey away from the whirlwind nature of everyday life to a calmer, gentler space in which to grow as human beings.
Research shows that spending time on what we enjoy actually benefits our mental health. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-04641-001
To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it. - Kurt Vonnegut