Creativity Top 12

Creativity Top 12
How to stand out from the crowd 

Introduction
Standing out among the ever-increasing number of photographers is becoming more and more difficult.  Gear and software are getting better and better.  Prices for photography hardware, software are consumables are getting more and more affordable.  Technical training is readily available. Information about locations that were once challenging to find is now just a google click away.

When everyone is photographing the same locations, knowing how to get to these locations is no longer an advantage.  When everyone has access to the same tools, and when these tools are both excellent and affordable, having these tools no longer gives us an advantage.  Mastering chemical photography involved owning gear that was expensive and  learning a process that was challenging. The large amount of time and money required to do this gave chemical photographers a significant advantage. Not so with digital.  While still expensive, digital photography gear is much more affordable than film-based gear.  Training, while still carrying a cost, is also much more affordable.  In addition, the number of teaching venues has literally exploded.

All this means that the advantage inherent in finding locations, owning equipment and knowing how to use it is no longer significant enough to create a noticeable difference between photographers.  As a result the gap between photographers is shriking and  it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out among the crowd. Furthermore, the number of photographers and the quality of their photographs is not only increasing, it is literally exploding.

However, being different is still possible.  The question is, how do you do it?  How do you stand out?  The answer is two folds.  First, you have to reconsider what are your true advantages.  It may be your personal experience, your background, your upbringing, a specific aspect of your training that nobody else has, a focus on art and technique rather than on technique alone, your connections, a unique expertise in a non-photographic field.  It may also be simply your attitude.

Second, in order to stand out in the environment that I just described you have to do things that the other photographers are not doing.  You have to create photographs that are different from everyone else.  Not because you used different gear and software, but because you used a different approach to creativity.

Creativity is the foundation that will enable you to create photographs that are different.  In turn, and over time, creativity will allow you to develop a photographic style that will be uniquely yours.  The development of a personal style and the demonstration of a personal vision are the ultimate goals.  By achieving these goals you will set yourself apart from the competition in a final manner.

These are long term goals and I address them during my workshops and in my Mastery Workshops on DVD tutorials.  In this essay my goal is to teach you how to become more creative.  Because creativity is a vast subject, I decided to narrow it down by writing a ‘Creativity Top 12’, a list of what I consider to be  the 12 most important aspects of creativity.  Here it is:

1 – Be interesting
Creativity is necessary to generate the interest of our audience and customers.  We will not generate their interest if we are not creative because people have become blasé about old ideas.  There are so many photographers out there that unless our work stands out as being interesting, different and unique we will not get much attention.

2 – Think differently
Being creative is about creating new things out of old things.  Taking old ideas that have proven to be effective in the past and re-inventing them by presenting them under a new appearance is the key to doing this successfully.

3 – Bring in the new
Creativity is an input-output, import-export business.  You can’t lock yourself in a room and expect to be creative all by yourself.  You have to be in contact with other artists and with other ways of doing things in order to foster creativity.  Think of this as a ‘creative think tank’ . The ‘water’ in the tank is the new ideas you bring in.  These new ideas that you bring in push out and replace the ‘old water’ that was previously in the tank.  By doing this regularly you have a constant flow of new ‘water,’ of new ideas.

4 – Get help
Learn from people who have solved problems similar to the ones you face.  Do not reinvent the wheel.  Instead, learn to use the wheel (metaphorically speaking) by studying with people who know how this is done.  The problem at hand here is how to create photographs that are different from everyone else.

5 – Set yourself free
You can’t be creative with your hands tied behind your back, metaphorically speaking.  To unleash your creativity you must cut yourself some slack.  To do so you need to decide what you are willing to do and not do in your work. Don’t be overly conservative.  Instead, push the boundaries and decide to do things you have not tried before or have hesitated doing until now.

6 – Ignore criticism
Creativity is fostered by self confidence.  You can’t be creative while being concerned with potential criticism at the same time.  In order to bring your creative ideas to life, you have to ignore criticism during the creative phase.  Their will be time to consider criticism later on, if and when it comes your way.

Sand Waterfall, Antelope Canyon, Arizona

7 – Get what you need
You need specific resources to give birth to your ideas.  These include classes, tutorials, tools and supplies.

8 – Engage your audience
You can’t be successful in a vacuum.  While your ideas don’t need to be interesting to everyone, they need to be interesting to your specific audience.  Engage in a dialogue with your audience.  Social media, blogging, live presentations, shows and personal conversations work well for this.

9 – Think simple
Simple ideas are easier to implement than complicated ideas.  Doing ‘simple’ is more difficult than doing ‘complicated.’  This is why most people do things complicated way. Learning to simplify takes time, but in the end it will save you massive amounts of time.  Saving time is the goal because we can’t make more time.  Therefore we need to learn how to use our time in the most efficient manner possible.

10 – Try it
Trying creative ideas is the key to success.  This is because there is other effective way of finding out which ideas will work and which ideas will not work. Only by trying new ideas will we find out which ideas work and which ideas do not work.

11 – Do it
Creativity means creating something, not just thinking of creating something!  This means that eventually you have to step up to the plate and get things done.  Create photographs, make prints, show your work to other people, write essays explaining why and how you do what you do and more.

12 – Defy authority
There’s ‘gurus’ out there that have been around and have achieved more than you have.  Just keep in mind that when they started these ‘gurus’ were in the same position you are in.  They were intimidated by  their own, older, ‘gurus.’  They hesitated to do things that had not been proven yet.  However, they succeeded because they did not let those ‘gurus’ intimidate them.  They defied authority and decided to do things their way. Do the same.

About Alain Briot
Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. Alain is the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available on as printed books Amazon.com and as eBooks on Alain’s website at this link: http://beautiful-landscape.com/Ebooks-Books-1-2-3.html

You can find more information about Alain’s work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at http://www.beautiful-landscape.com To subscribe simply go to http://www.beautiful-landscape.com and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page. You will receive information on downloading the table of contents, plus over 40 free essays by Alain, immediately after subscribing. Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays available. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at alain@beautiful-landscape.com.

Alain Briot
February 2013

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