“If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit, it will go anywhere.”
First, comes inspiration – a spark, a muse, a thought beyond reason.
Next, comes awakening – a moment of beauty or insight that pushes one to action, an awareness of new possibilities, the clarity to see our vision at its completion.
Then, we fall in love – with the idea of actualization, with the dream of bringing that to vision to reality.
“Highly motivated creative people fall in love with an image of themselves as a person who will do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams – and this identification becomes, in a way, a self-fulfilling prophecy.” *
We often view the creative work of others at a gallery or a museum or on Instagram and remark, “I wish I were that talented!”
In fact, you truly are.
Think about it. Can you remember a time when you were so involved in something that the world around you all but disappeared, the cares of the day evaporated and all that remained was you, your mind and body on automatic, engrossed in your activity? It could have been a sport, cooking, hiking, even decorating. What was different about that moment?
Many who write about creative process call it flow. What happens neurologically is that we become of two minds, both our conscious and nonconscious minds are operating at once. We are aware of our surroundings but are not distracted by it. The nonconscious mind, or how we behave when we actively engage in spontaneous thinking, using intuition, emotion, and skill, is taking charge. If allowed to continue for an extended period of time, this state of being can be euphoric, taking us to places in our imagination we never thought possible.
Can we create an environment for that creative flow to happen? Yes! I have done it many times!! It is a wonderful process for shooting creative photography.
Below I have prepared for you a recipe for creative flow. For this recipe, I used my own creative photography process but it can apply to any creative activity you desire to be engaged in. It’s not difficult really, but there a few key ingredients.
Recipe for Creative Flow
- Set aside a block of time, preferably 2-4 hours, less is not enough, more is too much, preferably the time of day you are at your best. You must be alone in your space.
- Turn off and shut out all distracting buttons, beeps, and notifications.
- Collect together your materials. Using your inspiration, bring together what you will need to realize your vision. For the shoot below, I gathered orchids (my inspiration), a collection of similar fabrics (in this case, light weight linens), my prop door and backdrop boards, and camera with both my 500mm and 35mm F1.8 lenses. I also gathered lifts made of wood to put under the cloth and raise the orchids to various heights. I did not use a tripod as it hinders spontaneity and rapid movement.
- Add stimulants. Possible stimulants could include green, white or hibiscus tea, a latte, a green smoothie, anything to drink that gives you a boost and is outside your normal routine.
- Add music. Plug in the earbuds. Having your music of choice pumping directly into your brain aids in nonconscious thinking. I personally prefer something energizing and driving. I want my mojo revved.
- Begin. Don’t think too hard about it, just start and then continue and continue some more. Take shots straight on, looking up, looking down, close up and far away. Move the props a hair, turn them this way or that. Change the backdrop, the lighting, add something, then take something away. Work up a sweat – fling open the windows. Work until you are exhausted.
- Reflect. Remember how good it felt to be unplugged and unhinged, to let your imagination fly! Do not focus on results, focus on the joy of the process. If you do, you will desire to experience that free-spirited creative flow again and again.
No doubt you will find you’ve created something you love, or at the very least, you had an aha moment or discovered a new technique. Do this every week for 6 months or even 3 months and you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish. It really is about the process, but after all, in the end, we want something to show for our concentrated efforts and believe me, you will!
*Quotes from the book ‘Wired to Create,’ by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire which am still reading and totally love.