I struggle with labelling myself as creative, or labelling the things that I do as creativity. Is following a crochet pattern creative? Is photographing an insect or a flower creative? I get bogged down in dictionary definitions that say things like: creativity is “the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas” or “a creative person has the ability to invent and develop original ideas”. Is what I do original?
Anyone can point a camera at something and snap an image, we all have cameras on our phones these days so we can capture the moment really easily. So is what I do creative? Is what I do original? Well, actually, yes I think it is.
- I actively go out to find things to photograph
- I observe
- I choose what I point my camera at
- I think about the composition of the shot
- I try looking from different angles
- I think about the background
- I remember the effect that I’ll see in the shot that you don’t actually see in real life
So I cautiously say yes, I am creative, my photography is part of my creativity.
For example this shot I shared last weekend:
In real life it was a hot, sweaty day, I was leaning on a fence trying to get a good angle on this dragonfly, I might even have had one awkward leg over the fence at this point. He was actually further away than it looks and he was resting on a dead flower head over a quite green and tired looking pond. My first priority was focus, but even if you get perfect focus, a busy background will spoil it. So I was trying different angles, trying to find a good background while still getting the dragon looking at his best. You don’t see the bokeh effect while looking down the camera lens, but if you know how those sparkles of sunshine on the water will look, you can use it without seeing it.
I also had to choose how to crop the image. Some images are perfect straight out of the camera, but often I do minor tweaks like cropping and making sure the colours are true to life. Here’s the original image untouched:
With so much bokeh and the dragonfly being quite small within the frame, he gets a bit lost and it’s hard to see what the focus of the image is meant to be. The cropped version was intended to have the dragonfly as the central focus, with the bokeh a very pretty extra.
The pond itself wasn’t quite so pretty in real life – those sun sparkles made all the difference. This shot shows you more of the reality – a green algae filled pond with some not so attractive browning leaves:
And what about the crochet? I often feel that following a pattern is not proper creativity, as I’m following instructions and if anyone else followed those same instructions they’d end up with the same thing. But I think I’m being a bit hard on myself there. Not everyone can crochet, not everyone has the patience to make something large, not everyone will choose colours in the same way, or the type of yarn they use. Even with experienced crocheters there will be differences in tension, and how they hold a hook. So each item made from the same pattern can end up looking quite different.
For example my Pandemonium blanket is unique. As far as I know, no one else used the exact same colours in the exact same order. And there were probably mistakes here and there woven into it. So although I followed a pattern, I created an original:
I have actually strayed into the area of crochet design too from time to time. For example my Pandemonium-inspired cushion. Nobody has a cushion quite like mine!
So if you’re like me and you think, I’m not creative, have another look and think about it some more. I bet you’ll find you are creative really. When you took the photos you share on your blog, you didn’t just randomly point at nothing and click the button! You thought about what you wanted to capture, and created a composition. You’re actually being creative by blogging too – it’s not necessarily ‘creative writing’ (fiction), but you are creating words, sentences, paragraphs that are unique to you, they are your words, created in your mind.
For some of us, living ‘in the time of Covid’ can mean we are actually more busy, constantly working because work is now in our living rooms, and it can be a struggle to step away. For others, there may be time on your hands, and you don’t know how to fill it. Either way, I think it’s a good idea to make some space for creativity in whatever form it comes for you. Creating can be calming and mindful, and that can be particularly important at the moment, when there may be fears and anxieties running riot in your head. And don’t be put off by thinking you’re not really creative, because you are. It might be a different form of creativity from the next person, but there will be something you can create. Just by taking that time to try creating something, you are feeding your soul. Even if it doesn’t turn out as well as you expected. You might find that taking that time to see what comes from within you will result in something beautiful, or it might just result in a mess, but you tried, you experienced, you gave yourself that chance. And giving yourself a chance, being kind to yourself, being encouraging to yourself … that’s a gift that you deserve.
Inspired by the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Creativity in the time of Covid.
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