Friday, February 1, 2013

28 Days To More Creativity!

February is Black History month and the International Month of Creativity...well, I actually just made up that last part. Nevertheless - join me this month in starting a new year with a month-long series of creative exercises designed to get you thinking in new ways...and maybe even reviving the love you had for photography (or image-making) in the first place! 

It's tempting, especially for photographers, to just think of technique when it comes to trying something new...but I'd like to go deeper than really think about how and why we make images and to assess what our artistic process is. You may decide to do each one - or just browse until you find the ones that work best for you. 

I suggest that you just spend this month having fun, don't try to control too much, feel free to use your cell phone or whichever camera is the easiest, don't worry about the end results! With each prompt you can take it literally, can wing it...ask people for their opinions...however you want to approach it. Bottom line - it's supposed to be fun, there's no right or wrongs.

Creativity is NOT something you have to be born with - it's in everyone - it's just a muscle that responds to exercise, faith and attention. The more you allow yourself to believe that you are creative, that you have important and interesting stories to tell...the more it will be true. So, let's begin!

Friday, February 1st: Observation

I'm writing this while sitting in a small restaurant that I can tell used to be italian by the red and white checked table cloths and the lasagna specials...but now it's run by a vietnamese family who have added their own set of specials (bun with shrimp - yum!) and it's called the Americana Grill and Fountain. There's a great chart on the wall by each table called "The Proper Way to Eat" which explains how to eat vietnamese food correctly. 

Somehow I managed to miss most of this until I put away my iPad and started looking around me. One of the most important things we do as artists is observe...and that's an activity that’s starting to fade as we are constantly entertained by our media devices. 

Today, strangely enough, I’m going to ask you to just sit and observe. Pick a location that’s got something going on...even consider a place you’ve been to often, but never really took the time to look at. Get a comfortable vantage point and just observe. Feel free to bring a notebook and spend time watching what’s happening in that environment and see what it tells you. 

Look at the people, how they dress, their age, what they’re doing...what can you figure out by observing them...what are their stories? What about the architecture - the way the space is physically laid out? What time period does it reflect, what was its original purpose, how well suited is it for living? How is the light...does it change during the time period you’re there? Is it natural light, artificial...are there different color temperatures in it? Does it have hard edges, soft, are there reflections on the surfaces...are they smooth or textured? What colors are in this environment - do they work well together or does everything clamor for your attention? What can you tell about the neighborhood culture in general - what groups have moved through and left their mark? Add your own questions to the mix and see where your observations take you. 

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