When working on new medical cures or developing new scientific theories, the proof of any success is being able to reproduce the results of the original experiments. You don’t have to reproduce the same results every time, just enough to make it “statistically significant” which means that your findings didn’t happen just as the result of chance or other unforseen events.

I mention this because we seem to follow the same methods when it comes to making art. What worked before should work again. “Someone made this beautiful photo of Delicate Arch at sunrise. If I go there at sunrise, I can make a beautiful photo.” Just replace Delicate Arch with Tunnel View, or Maroon Bells, or Abraham Lake… You get the point.

It takes skill to make a good photograph from these locations, but creativity? Obviously, if you can make a unique images from these known places, it does take creativity. But very few of us do. We just do the same take on the known image.

Creativity requires our ability to see things freshly and to respond to them freshly. That is what I mean here by responsibility—the ability to respond.

Most of us, myself included, go out with our camera with the intention of producing a certain kind of photograph. We’ll choose a time and location for an image we may have in our mind or just a conception of what we want to get. How much does all that intention and mental imaging keep us from just seeing what is in front of us and responding to that?

We can hold onto our mental images and find subject matter to fit them and that’s how some people create. However, if you’re like me, the mental images and desires just get in the way of really being creative—taking risks and experimenting.

My favorite time to take photographs is in the morning. My mind is fresh and quieter and I love the morning light. This morning, it finally warmed up to 5 degrees, so I thought I’d go out on South Boulder Creek and do some ice images. I expected the creek to be mostly frozen and hoped the strong sun we had yesterday would have burned off the snow. I was hoping for some interesting ice patterns and reflections.

The creek wasn’t as frozen as I had hoped and it was mostly covered with snow—no interesting ice cracks and patterns.

I wandered around on the creek breaking through the ice a couple of times and was mostly uninspired. The cold weather and my slightly wet fee were getting to me and I was wondering if I should just give up and go home.

That willingness to pack it in was all I needed. I surrendered to my failure to get what I thought I wanted. Without those desires operating, I stopped looking for particular photographs and just started looking and responding.

All of a sudden I noticed these interesting lines and patterns in the snow. Along with the rays of the rising sun and the shapes of snowy stones, there was a lot to inspire me and get my creative juices going. What fun to work with these new shapes, patterns and colors. This is what I love about taking and making photographs—this seeing things in ways I never did before and being able to play with this new seeing.

Creativity is just creativity. There’s no guarantee you or I will make great art. Hopefully sometimes we will. At least, for me it makes going out with a camera one of my favorite things to do.

~ by danbaumbach on March 5, 2019.

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