Creative Photography – Recipe for Creative Flow

“If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit, it will go anywhere.”
~Alice Walker

 

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

  1. 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.
  2. Turn off and shut out all distracting buttons, beeps, and notifications.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for creative flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

Creative Photography - Recipe for Creative Flow - Renuko Style

 

*Quotes from the book ‘Wired to Create,’ by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire which am still reading and totally love.

 

 

 

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Dream state

her eyes are barely open
she is more asleep than awake
a heady, sweet fragrance beckons her toward the woodland garden

sparkles of light dance between willow branches as the sun gently lifts over the horizon

drinking in the pungent atmosphere
she breaths deeply and allows herself to dream…

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - summer dreams - Renuko Style

 

Dreamy photography - dreaming -summer - Renuko Style

 

Whether it’s peaceful woodland gardens, soft, calming surf, or the heady scent of peonies, summer is a dream. How easy it is to drift off into dreamland when laying on the cool, green grass, birds chirping, light flickering through the trees.

When we experience beauty, especially summer beauty I think, the joy centers of our brain send us a message, all is good, life is worth living, you have survived. We come down off our daily fight or flight adrenaline rush.

How much more so when we create beauty? Whether it be a work of art, a delicious meal, or an enduring friendship we must first envision the beauty we seek. Only when we allow ourselves the freedom of a dream-like state of being and let imagination run free, can we fully comprehend what we ourselves are capable of creating.

 

 

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Crazy chaotic creative mind

Ideas are easy to come by. Really they are. We are inspired by fellow artists every day. Design in nature sparks our imagination. The creative mind is always brimming with possibilities.

How many times have we said, “I want to do that thing!?”

Every evening I go to bed with ideas swirling around in my head…my next photo shoot, photo prompts, still life set ups, Instagram hashtags, blog posts, books to write, garden designs… oh my! There are only so many hours in the day!! It’s great to have an active imagination but how does one corral all the concepts into something of use? How can I possibly reign in that crazy, chaotic, creative mind?

Maybe I should just relax here in my comfy chair and enjoy the fruitage of someone else’s labor on my Instagram feed!

Well, of course we wouldn’t be satisfied with that. And neither am I. Creatives have to create, it’s in the blood. But ideas are only as good as our plan to execute them.

So I decided to come up with a plan on how to make a plan. I know! That’s very type A of me!! Isn’t it?

But it was absolutely necessary. Otherwise I would flit from one idea to the next and never accomplish anything.

So each night I corral my thoughts by reading a few lines of a calming book. Simple as it seems, the effect is amazing. It allows me to rest peacefully and gives my subconscious a chance to go to work. By morning my creative mind is organized enough to choose an idea from the idea cloud hovering over my head, pull it down and work on it.

But the idea needs structure. Without framework, it can easily fall prey to ‘deflated balloon syndrome.’ I’m sure you are familiar with that. The uneasy feeling that comes over you when you are afraid you haven’t what it takes to pull something off. This is where most ideas go pouf…and we go back to familiar activities that take less brain power and emotional strength.

So before I begin to execute an idea, I give it form. I construct the general shape of the project with the answers to a list of questions.

Why do I want to do this?

How will I begin?

What will I use?

Where will I show this?

Who will enjoy it?

Now you have something like the framing of house that is being constructed, the final outcome has not been realized but you can envision the general shape and size. By the time you get to this point, you are married to the project, there’s no turning back now. You are excited to begin, and you know where to begin. Gather up your materials and get started!

 

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done. Go make that stuff!”

~Austin Kleon

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

Reigning in the creative mind - Renuko Style

 

 

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Abstract thought and creativity

Abstract thought – defining the term is abstract in itself, often contradictory. According to the American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, abstract thought is “Thinking characterized by the ability to use concepts and to make and understand generalizations, such as of the properties or pattern shared by a variety of specific items or events.”

In creativity one must first generate an idea, a concept, whether it be theoretical or philosophical, academic or metaphysical. The idea must take root in ourselves. We need to feed it, care for it, love it, before it can become reality. It must come from deep within ourselves. We must form an emotional connection with it. It’s completion must be visualized.

Rollo May describes it this way. “Artists are generally soft spoken persons who are concerned with their inner visions and images. They love to immerse themselves in chaos in order to put it  into form…This requires an intensity of emotion, a heightened vitality…”

In short it is the ability to take an idea and run with it. We may not understand why we must run with it until it has been accomplished. We put our whole being into executing an abstract thought without any surety of outcome. Madness? Indeed! But think of the alternative. Without this vitality, this intense manner of planning and performing,  all we have left is the mundane. And that certainly will not do.

Creative concepts often begin with observing properties or patterns shared by specific items or events as described at the outset. This particular photo shoot began in such a way. The twisting, turning, gnarled, and tangled mass of fabrics intrigued me and sent me off on a two day photo exploration. I visualized a collection of abstract images meant only as a study in form. On day one I left the mass in tact, draping it, hanging it, further twisting it, arranging it and including it in a still life. On day two I began to unravel it. Amazingly, it was completely satisfying, as if I was somehow unraveling the tangled mass of thought in my mind. Again I say, Madness? Indeed!

 

 

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

 

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Still life photography - Renuko Style - Karen Olson

Abstract thought and creativity - Renuko Style

Additional images from this shoot can be found on Steller Stories @renukostyle

 

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Seeing art in everyday life

“Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities,”  states Wikipedia.

Well said. Evidence of artistic design is in every aspect of our lives. Products of creativity surround us. Evidence of creative thought processes can be observed in our structures, our dress, our food, our written and spoken language.

Our very being compels us to create things.

To see the ‘art’ in everyday life one must hone their powers of observation, slowing down ones pace to actually look for it.

Begin by observing a scene or object with a view to the elements of design. Make an inspection in order to discern the intrinsic quality of the image.

What is the dominant element of the image?

Line

Shape

Direction

Size

Texture

Color

Value

 

And then with a view to the principals of design, feel the overall impression of the image.

Balance

Repetition

Graduation

Contrast

Harmony

Dominance

Unity

 

 

 

White on Blue

Family

 

Floating in a dream

Floating in a dream

 

my heart bleeding

Mt heart lies with you

helebors

Forever spring

Focusing in on the ‘scenes’ of our life  gives us appreciation for each designer/creator (and creation if you will) and spurs us on in the  design process ourselves.

And so, I now focus in through the lens of the camera. I never imagined that photography could be that tool for me. After all, wouldn’t one miss out on life if hours are spent behind the lens. Just the opposite is true. The lens crops in the scene similar to a mat board cropping a painting, giving us just what we need to focus on. A metaphor for life in general, perhaps.