How much do we project our interior world on the canvas of the world at large?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by jack mcritchie, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. I posed this question in a reply to comments on a recent picture which started an interesting dialogue with Leslie Reid. I am curious if other members have thoughts on this subject or perhaps experiences that touch on this. I'll try to post the picture to give you some reference (this is my first time starting a forum thread, so I'll just try to take a stab at it). I've asked Leslie to repost her replies and I will do the same with my answering comments, just to start the ball rolling. Here goes.
  2. That is an interesting question, Jack--the world as a Rorschach test... I suspect the answer is "a lot," and I suspect that that's the basis for so many photographers having their own individually recognizable styles. I can be standing right next to someone, looking at the same thing they are, and yet be seeing something completely different than what they see; we end up with two completely different photos. What we see depends a lot on what we want to find, and what we want to find depends a lot on our inner worlds. And that's one of the reasons that looking at someone else's photos is never boring--as viewers we're learning a lot about other ways of seeing the world.
  3. Leslie
    Thanks for your always thoughtful comments. I think I'm more interested in the photographer, how he or she
    sees things, than the photograph itself as a stand alone artifact, as fascinating as it may be. I consider the
    photograph more as an inevitable projection of the personality and character of the photographer. I think that
    photography, as with all the arts, is tied up with the idea that we are responsible co-creators of the world we
    experience and think that our perception calls forth the world, filtered through and in line with all the
    programs and associations we've assimilated over our lifetime. I believe as we become more aware that
    what we see is not objective reality but merely a personal (and largely subconsciously chosen)
    representation, the possibilities shift. We are able, at least for a brief few moments, to escape from the tight
    confines of the fire lit clearing we call reality and peer a little deeper into the shadowy forest which is the
    domain of the unimaginable and the magical. For me, that's an intriguing though daunting proposition and I'm
    always looking for fellow travelers along the way, people who are more interested in questions than answers.
    After all, it gets pretty lonesome on the trail when you have no one with whom to share your ideas and
  4. There’s a lot of food for thought there, Jack, and one of the things your comments made me start thinking about is what it is about the process of making a photo that is so satisfying, exhilarating, and in some way essential to my being happy. I guess some would say there’s a need to express oneself, but that doesn’t seem to quite fit—that implies that there’s an audience to express oneself to, and it implies, also, that the reward comes with displaying the image instead of in the making of it. For me, it seems like the most potent moment is as I’m first arranging the image in my mind, before I even click the shutter—the kind of “aha” that comes with seeing something that speaks to me, and puzzling out how to turn that “speaking to me” into an image that also speaks. For me, that’s the moment at which reality gets re-visioned into the projection of possibilities from the inner world of my imagination. Making the photo in some way makes visible the world that I want to be there, and that, in a sense, makes it more real to me, whether or not I look at the photo again (I’m reminded of the roll of 72 images I took with a half-frame SLR on which the sprocket holes tore on frame #4—I’ve still got the images in my mind that would have been on a sizable proportion of the 68 frames that never existed—the magic happened when I was designing the images in the viewfinder). How about you?
  5. Leslie, I think there's more than one way to skin a cat and how we do it doesn't matter as long as the cat
    gets skinned. Your photos speak for themselves and certainly testify to the effectiveness of your calm and
    well considered approach. I'm a bit more random, bordering on chaotic myself. I try to keep my mind as
    empty as possible and quiet my constantly jabbering internal dialogue when I shoot; It's important for me to
    keep my perception in neutral, just letting what I see flow by. When my attention is snagged by something in
    particular, I focus on that. Even if the subject is interesting the further problem is relying on habitual
    compositions. Habit and routine more than anything put us to sleep. The idea for me is to wake up to the
    world around us and to see anew what we usually pass over without a second look. I live in Nakazakicho, a
    quaint neighborhood of small shops, old homes and narrow, winding streets (there are few real
    neighborhoods left in Osaka) so one weekends especially, the place is crawling with photographers.
    Sometimes I think they're searching more for Nakazakicho as the neighborhood equivalent of
    Disneyland. than what's really there. Most of the time we only see what we expect to see. Personally, I'm
    looking for something just outside of what I expect to see. In photography at least, I like surprises and that
    means changing your usual perception of things; not going with the crowd outside nor the one inside your
  6. Leslie, I think one (I) can express oneself (myself) even without an audience. I work on photos all the time that I wind up not showing anyone because they just don't make the grade. But I consider that work a very important part of expressing myself, even if it ultimately doesn't make it as a finished photo. When I watch movies alone, I may cry or laugh out loud, or ooh and ahh and those are all me expressing myself . . . for myself. I don't think expression implies either an audience or the display aspect. Maybe communication implies those things.
    Jack, I take a communal/holistic approach in my thinking about these things. I think photos reflect not only the photographer's mind and emotions but a lot of photographic traditions, prior and current styles, societal and cultural influences, etc. I tend not to think in terms of interior worlds because I think the interior and exterior can't be easily separated, perhaps not at all. What is personal to me is so informed and molded by the outside, by my history, which includes others and what they've said and done, the reactions I've already received from people (even if I don't intend to take them into account, I believe they have some effect), cultural symbols and grammars I've naturally adopted, etc. Since I do so many portraits, I also think my photos reflect much about the subjects as well and I think non-portrait photographs reflect on their subjects as well. It's important that I think the work of a photographer like Walker Evans, of course, reflects his view of the world, but also reflects a world, real and one that existed. It may be only a part of that world, but I don't believe his work is limited just to HIS part of the world but rather to A part of the world.
    While what you say, Leslie, is true that the same scene will often be photographed very differently by different photographers, I'd venture to bet that if you gave a thousand photographers the same scene to shoot, none would be exactly the same but very many of them would be quite similar. And I think that's why each generation has a relatively few great artists who live on. It's more the rare person who sees the world really differently and uniquely, while most of the rest of us are seeing the world with varying degrees of shades of difference. And even among those greats, I think there is often more collaboration or at least shared sensibility than we tend to give credit for. Yes, of course, Picasso and Braque were both strong individuals with independent visions. But look at how their work adopted certain new vocabularies and look at how closely the two worked together and even competed. Competition, in important ways, is as much a matter of sharing as it is a matter of asserting oneself. The reason there is a classification "Impressionism" and "Expressionism" and "Surrealism" is that a lot of people worked on a vernacular of their times, separately but in many ways together.
    What I see in photos is multi-dimensional, reflecting the photographer, the subject, the times, and many, many things that go into the work.
  7. I guess part of my puzzlement over “expressing oneself” is that I’m not quite sure I understand what it means—is it the joy of creating something? or showing who one is? or conveying a message? Or all of those? I think it’s the first of those that resonates most clearly to me.
    And your point on influences is well taken, Fred. I came to the bemused realization exactly 18 days ago, as I was selecting which calendar to reuse for the year, that a large part of my aesthetic sense for landscape photography was molded by the calendar images I grew up with. I selected a 1989 Galen Rowell. (Makes me wonder how influential those calendars may actually have been)
    But, like Jack, what I’m really searching for when I’m out with a camera—or looking at others’ photos—is something I’ve never “seen” before, even if I’ve looked at it 100 times. Sure, I’ll take the photo of the sunstruck barn, and I’ll enjoy it, but it’ll be mentally filed with the others in my “sunstruck barn” category; and I’ll also deeply admire others’ photos of sunstruck barns. But the one I'll choose for my wall is one that shows me some aspect of a sunstruck barn that I've never seen before. Show me a row of trashcans waiting for a schoolbus (Gallery > Jack McRitchie > Photos > September - You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone > Young Trash Containers Waiting…) or an exhausted unicorn with an accordion (Gallery > Fred G. > Photos > Newest > sunday afternoon, new york…) or steam devils coming off a real-life Turner seascape (Gallery > Michail Lipakis > Photos > 1_LATEST_2017 > Steam Devil II --- …), and my mental image of reality is changed forever--and I like that. A lot.
  8. Maybe another consideration with expressing oneself is that there always already is an audience, of 1 - the photographer. Even if you're excellent at pre-visualising, the actual photo itself is still a creation in itself that isn't necessarily what you previsualised. There is also communication back to oneself. And sure there is joy in creating something; I guess if there wouldn't be we wouldn't keep up carrying a camera around.
    I full agree with Fred that the inner and outer world are somewhat hard to see as fully seperates, I read the inner world more as "what drives somebody to take his particular photos". Even when you can recognise the influences, the cultural fingerprint and/or biases/opinions/convinctions, then still there can be that final personal touch. Yet, in the back of my head niggles the idea of gazillion of photos that are perfectly exposed, perfectly framed and have no intent beyond showing what was in front of the lens, and which succeed at that with flying colours. These photos seem devoid of a personal touch, but rather some search for technical excellence and adherence to rules and the expectations of others on how a photo of that subject ought to look.
    If that also would talk of the inner world of the photographer, what does that tell us? Yikes. And there are just too many photos like that for me to think things are that bad. No gazillion inner worlds looking like a desert wasteland with a calculator.

    So a first assumption here probably needs to be that the photographer is actively looking to express in a personal way, and is not too disturbed if people, or even the majority, cannot care for those photos. A photographer who is comfortable with the idea that photo and subject in photo are 2 different things, and that a photo isn't displaying some reality, but rather an interpretation.
    That assumption in itself probably already indicates a certain level of introspective self-consciousness and a need for that creative aspect. And limits the number of photographers by a lot too :)
    So things start to intertwine here a bit, I think. We're talking photographers (and viewers, certainly as important) who are conscious about the personal creative expression in their photography, and in those photos you find aspects of that personality in how things are visually expressed.
    That doesn't make it less fascinating, but there is a level of intent at play, no matter how things come around. It's not so much a Rorschach, though it can be an ambiguous puzzle all the same. Deciphering the intent and red herrings in a body of work isn't less valuable or interesting just because it's intentionally there, after all. For the viewer, the discovery is no less.
    Personally, I actually don't look for pictures, but happen to find them. The outer world is very much part of my photos. I just walk around, take it in and whatever touches me, I'll have a shot at. Quite recently I had to move, and find myself now in a different culture, climate and surroundings - one I know awfully well because it's where I used to live before from birth. And as familiar as I should be with it, I'm not yet seeing those photos. Maybe because there is no surprise, less curiosity. Or maybe it does simply take time to parse that new/old reality again through the mental filter to start seeing the details that may work.
    Which is a long way of saying the process isn't that easy. It's not from inner to outer. It's also the outer that pushes and pulls the inner into directions. It's messages that form in your head driving you to make photos, and it is messages in photos that drive you to understand yourself better in what you try to say.
  9. The projection is the game: the guessed-at, assumed rules of the game — the boundaries, the goals, what matters and why — before it's played. Some games consume their content (chess); the vagueness of the mishmash of what is visible of world 'games' (i.e. life) make game watching circular: as the play exceeds the game, we correct the game and try again.
    A game that assumes play is not a game. A player that assumes a game is not a player. World content is so multi-layered as to give only the most fleeting of recognitions of bits of simultaneous multi-game play. But a projection demands past > present > future cognition/assumptions.
    In other words, projection isn't a solid, practical, neat and tidy, studious activity. It's a desperate, unavoidable, never-ending striving for equilibrium, location and orientation.
  10. Leslie, here's a couple of ways I think about expression . . .
    something that manifests, embodies, or symbolizes something else
    the look on someone's face that conveys a particular emotion​
    They're similar, in that the look on one's face can be seen as the embodiment of emotion. The way I'd put it is that your joy of creation is just that, the joy of creation. And your creating is an act of expression.
    For me, your words "showing who one is" would translate to "showing an aspect or side of ourselves." And with any photograph that's combined with "external" things. I think of myself as becoming more than being, so I don't think I'm ever showing who I am as much as who I'm becoming . . . which implies an unknown future and even a not-fixed past, since there will always be different perspectives from which I will view my own past, as I grow. I think my photos show more of a personal process rather than a personal who.
    I understand your thoughts about finding something new or seeing something in a new way. For me, that's something different from projecting oneself onto the world or into the photograph. Some very imitative and derivative work is actually very revealing about the photographer.

    Wouter, I like the idea of the audience of one . . . as long as it doesn't make us all schizophrenic. ;-)

    On the joy of creating . . . I do think some artists suffer through their art and, for them, it isn't about joy. There's catharsis, for some there's simply having to photograph or paint, and there are many very painful artistic journeys.
    Yet, in the back of my head niggles the idea of gazillion of photos that are perfectly exposed, perfectly framed and have no intent beyond showing what was in front of the lens, and which succeed at that with flying colours. These photos seem devoid of a personal touch, but rather some search for technical excellence and adherence to rules and the expectations of others on how a photo of that subject ought to look.​
    Yes. To me this would be part of the negative side of the communal aspect I was talking about. Where we become simply part of a mindless herd rather than a contributor to a shared sensibility. The latter is more creative and empowering than the former.
    On intent, I think what's NOT intended can be as or more expressive and more revealing than what IS intended. At the same time, I do think that when one photographs intentionally, one is often more likely to create a personal vision which is meaningful. But I do think some of our more subconscious motivations lead to a lot of important stuff in our photos.
    [As always, I believe one can shoot intentionally while still being spontaneous. Intention does not necessarily mean staging photos or pre-planning them, and staging or pre-planning does not mean a lack of spontaneity.]

    I like the way you describe your own working process and I think it's what gives your photos a sense of place, which is different, I think, from a personal projection. I think there are personal aspects of your work as well, but the sense of place is important and not as personal a matter, as you seem to be saying as well.
  11. Interesting thread, Jack. Since I have little time now to digest the posts already submitted, I'll let the following comments on one of your images speak for me.
    Jack, if I didn't know that the symbols in this image are Japanese, I would have taken them as religious symbols belong to an aboriginal culture, especially that of Australia. In fact, I think I see I see a didgediroo lying on its side in the background.
  12. I'd like to borrow a word, in abbreviated form, from Julie - project. Every time one clicks the shutter of a camera, one engages in a project. But this doesn't mean simply that the photographer has planned to shoot the photograph by means of thinking about exposure, shutter speed, aperture opening, level of sensitivity, whether to shoot handheld or with the aid of a tripod. It means in part that the photographer has made a decision (or perhaps a series of decisions) to shoot a photograph. The project is a conscious act, which rests with a human being. The act results in a photograph - an object. Of course, borrowing from Fred's initial post, the decision may be based on a variety of factors and influences.
    I hope the above is reasonably clear.
  13. Couple things come to mind. One is that we as humans share common genes as well as environments with stable properties that have been unchanged since the beginning of human evolution: the horizon, sun, sky, sunsets, physical things like that. We also share visual systems which are emotionally attuned to certain features of the environment, probably for survival. We also live with other humans and are greatly attuned to facial expression and posture, etc. So in some sense, the “canvas of the world at large” has already “projected” itself onto us! Because of these factors, we tend to be more similar in our photography than different, as mentioned by Fred. We are drawn to the same things. I also agree with Fred that there are some individuals who are different enough in their creativity to expand on what has already been done before them. It’s just going to happen, given the quantity of people in the world. I think humans are naturally creative and we enjoy our own creativity as well as the creativity of others. Like Wouter, I don’t look for pictures, I just react when something “grabs” me and I photograph it if I can. My interior world is being stimulated by the external world and something new is created by the interaction, or something like that!
  14. Fred, indeed my point about intent was that the intentional act of making photos tends to lead to a personal vision more likely. To me that does not exclude the subconscious motivations (in fact, I think I float on those more than I depend on the conscious ones), nor the importance of those. Ultimately, those things all come together in the actual choices we've made once we press that shutter - it may be a very deliberate and well-crafted composition, lighting set up precisely and with care, or it may be just that instant blimp catching the attention. There is a series of decisions, concious or subconscious, that preceed that "click". I guess what Michael means with a project. Our intent lies in those decisions and the likely outcome they'll have.
    I guess in short is that I do not see intent as a fully reasoned, conscious decision, but rather as the underlying urge to make the photos. Maybe my use of the term is a tad loose indeed.
    The more I think about it, the harder I find it to see the inner world as seperate from the outer world; they constantly interact and shape the way we see things and want to see them. We evolve and change. As Steve notes, a good part of that is also shared (be it some sort of innate ability, or cultural). In a way, maybe outgrowing that shared part with its predictable reactions is what makes it hard to get that personal touch in photos and really manage to express oneself.
  15. outgrowing that shared part with its predictable reactions is what makes it hard to get that personal touch in photos and really manage to express oneself.​
    That seems to me to be true. Our inner sense, values and motivations are partly innate (including learned), partly shared with others. I think what I am often looking for is a creative process and result that derives more from my inner world than that shared with the outside one. I think that is what also incites the great artists who not only do that but also communicate their unique vision to others (Munchen and Van Gogh did not fully succeed in that communication within their lifetimes, but the meaning of their art is now part of the established outer world). Whether I succeed or not is measured as much by the values of my inner world as those of the outside world.

    Expressing oneself also exists of course when the approach and results are very much in step with the art conventions or preferences of views of the outer world, although oneself may be more diluted.
  16. I think the great artists through history are all motivated by different things. I've never thought there was one overriding motivating factor working for all or most of the great artists. If it were the case that artists' motivations had something so strong in common, that would be a significant example of a herd mentality and lack of uniqueness.
  17. Compare this, the middle verse from Elizabeth Bishop's poem The Map:

    The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
    Labrador's yellow, where the moony Eskimo
    has oiled it. We can stroke these lovely bays,
    under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,
    or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.
    The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
    the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
    -the printer here experiencing the same excitement
    as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.
    These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger
    like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.​
    ...with David Sylvester's description of the painter Chaim Soutine:
    ... this becomes Soutine's pattern (one that is highly consistent with what we know of his personality): to put himself in a position from which he feels that something is threatening him, so that he must attack it, wrestle with it, twist it, wring its neck. It is as if he can only make contact with the external world through an act of violence and violation. It is painting as a form of in-fighting.​
    Bishop's mapmakers are cool, detached, in love with what they have done. Soutine is hot, violent, close-up. Or as Sylvester writes, this "signifies a refusal to maintain 'a respectful distance,' expresses a will to intimacy, whether that of sympathy or that of insolence ... "
  18. If it were the case that artists' motivations had something so strong in common, that would be a significant example of a herd mentality and lack of uniqueness.​
    If you are referring to my statement about great artists being inspired by their own inner world, I absolutely fail to see that a common aspect of greatness like being primarily directed by his or her own inner world and imagination would constitute a "herd" instinct. That might be the case of not great artists who may be content (and even commercially successful in some cases) to simply follow the crowd.

    On the contrary, greatness is dependent upon breaking away from the common mentality and thought and achieving original works (Original - "created directly and personally by a particular artist; not a copy or imitation"). I am very surprised that you have yet to discern that in your own study of the thoughts and works of great artists.
  19. I think Salgado was inspired by environmental concerns and social responsibility.

    I think Stieglitz was inspired, first, by a desire to elevate photography to the status of art and then by a desire for photography to find its own voice as a separate medium.

    Dorothea Lange claimed to be motivated by the courage of other people.

    Not being a great artist, myself, I can tell you I've been motivated by older men willing to be seen and people with disabilities working hard and playing fancifully.

    I never got the sense that most photographers and artists, great and small, were so self-absorbed as to be motivated by their own inner world.

    I honestly do not think most artists are motivated by achieving originality. The way I see it working for many is that their genuine motivation or inspiration by things in the world and/or ideas they find significant and moving, along with talent, results in their achieving something original.
    I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. —Claude Monet​
  20. There are two different things being said in the thread. The OP's point seemed to ask whether we project our interior world onto the world at large. Though I don't think there's a clear distinction between interior and exterior, I do think photographers project themselves to varying degrees onto the world. The second point is about motivation. I think artists and photographers are motivated by all sorts of things.
  21. Some interesting examples you cite Fred of what motivates certain artists/photographers. I agree that artists like Monet was inspired by flowers and water lilies and how they reflect light. The interior world is made up of such affinities. When jack is querying -

    "How much do we project our interior world on the canvas of the world at large?"
    is he referring to the exterior elements that inspire or motivate the photographer or is he thinking more of the way the artist deals with the motivational subjects in his specific way? I guess that I interpret the interior world as being that of the photographer's lived experience, his values and how his brain deals with creation. Those thoughts, whether very personal or sometimes influenced by the group values or aesthetic (exterior influences), are more what I was thinking of in suggesting that good artists are less influenced by how others might create something and much more personal and original in their creation. I think the latter interior world is what makes a (very good to) great artist.
    Monet projected his interior world of how he imagined and perceived light and plants onto the outside world by his works and no doubt influenced others, just as Van Gogh, in seeing the world in a specific manner (like his famous painting in greenish tones of fellow inmates walking around in a circle during daily exercise - constrained perspectives and activity of the incarcerated and perhaps of his temporary mental state - or his swirly renditions in other paintings of skies and landscapes, a then unique product from his imagination. Those personal creative thoughts and actions may be what Jack is thinking, and myself, when he refers to projecting the interior world onto the outside world?
    I am also a very limited yet committed artist/photographer. Sometimes I think I am projecting my interior world onto the outside world, but that may be fanciful thinking to a large degree, obfuscated perhaps by what one may call a repetitive style which others may recognize as one's own. So that jury is definitely still out.
    I am very appreciative of those artists that through their interior world of imagination, insight and unique creation produce great works and communicate their personal and original creations to others, thereby projecting that to the outside world.
  22. For me, the question of one projecting oneself onto the world at large is different from that self-projection being one's motivation or the desire to
    be original being one's motivation. I'm not denying that Monet and the rest likely project a lot of themselves on the world.
    But I think people engaging in photography and painting who concern themselves with that self-projection often come off
    as self-conscious and less than authentic and those who concern themselves with their own originality often come off as
    forced. I think many of them don't quite make it to artist precisely because of that. On the other hand, I think the artists
    who are motivated by deep connections to their subjects, such as Stieglitz to O'Keeffe or Weston to his pepper or
    Mapplethorpe to the possibilities of daring to expose fringe sexualities with a classical luxurious photographic flavor that
    he could apply as well to Cala lilies are the ones who do wind up projecting themselves genuinely and being original as well.
  23. Fred, your initial posts today say it all.
  24. We are quite sure of our reality; after all it is real enough to us. But what we define as real necessarily implies
    limits. Since how we see and what we expect to see is the organizing principle that creates what we consider to
    be the real world, when we somehow manage to create space between our expectations, our deeply
    programmed beliefs and ourselves, other interpretations and understandings are possible. I'm not so much
    interested in the motivation or the why but the simple shift in perception itself and its effect on our work and
    indeed on our life. This is the reason I started this thread although I didn't express my question very clearly. I
    would appreciate any personal anecdotes that might shed some light on the process of seeing and later I'll add
    some of my own. I don't expect any ready answers but I'd welcome accounts of personal experiences that led you to perhaps question the way
    things are (or are supposed to be).
  25. "later I'll add some of my own"
    You just did, in your post, re this thread — without apparent irony.
    Made me smile.
  26. re Julie
    Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
    Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while
    they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
  27. I don’t know if this is the kind of response you’re looking for, Jack, but the fundamental change in perception for me came from living in east Africa for a year: things look very different from other points of view, and others’ points of view can be just as valid (or more so) as the ones I showed up with. There’s an extraordinary richness to be had in trying to wrap one’s mind around other points of view. That translates to every aspect of life, and the connection to photography should be pretty obvious. I’ve attached an example of some visual exploring I did a few days ago: edited versions of 4 of 20 images I’d made of a rather boring stick. The stick had grabbed my attention for some reason, and I was making the photos to figure out what it was about it that had caught me. And by “figure out” I don’t mean analytically, but more at a gut level, though there was a lot of “what would happen if…” going on. A key point here is that none of these images show the stick as I was seeing it with my eyes, though there’s no editing here other than cropping and adjustments of clarity, contrast, and exposure. With each frame I was trying to bring out a different aspect of the stick or its context, and I was aware of how I was going to treat it in post to emphasize that aspect. So the relevance of the photos to a shift in perception: (1) a shift in point of view results in very different perceptions of what reality looks like; (2) the reality recorded by each image is a reality that was not visible to me as I made the original images; (3) the aspects of the stick that I was recognizing as image-worthy were the ones that for some reason were resonating with me, based on what feels right to me (inner world exerting its influence), and (4) the stick is no longer there, so the only record of what it looked like are a series of images that don’t really look like what it looked like to a human eye—to all of you, reality is based just on the images; if you’d seen only one of those images, you’d have a very limited view of what the stick was capable of looking like--you're seeing a rendition of a stick excerpted from reality in a way that feels right to me according to the dictates of my own inner world. I need to add that the caption here is a tongue in cheek homage to one of my favorite poems, “Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens—that poem implicitly makes my points a lot better than I can, and is definitely worth a read (
  28. Henry Wessel prefaces his new book with an excerpt from Thirteen Ways. He ends with three verses of the Anecdote of the Jar (also by Stevens; you know, "I placed a jar in Tennessee ...") which I think is equally relevant to this thread. That's the only text in his book. (Wessel is not well-known, but is greatly admired by many critics.)
  29. The sweaty players in the game of life always have more fun than the supercilious spectators. —William Feather​
  30. Jack, one of the best pieces of advice I've been given was by a piano teacher who suggested I not memorize pieces of music by rote and repetition. I was to take the score away from the piano and learn it, internalize it, understand the progressions and why certain choices might have been made by the composer, get my fingers to play it in the air or on the table so I wasn't reliant either on the feel of the keys or the sound of the notes. I found it a much more secure way to memorize music, where the music got remembered in my head and not just my fingers. Used to be, for example, that if I made one mistake when playing by memory, it would throw me completely off, because I only had a superficial working memory of the pieces. Now, a mistake wouldn't be so devastating, since I knew the score from having learned it thoroughly rather than merely through repetition.
    Now, I do a lot of my seeing when I'm not necessarily looking and a lot of photography when I'm not necessarily holding a camera, by thinking things through. Often, rather than wanting to come across something by chance or surprise, I go out looking not necessarily for a specific subject but for a photographic situation that either fulfills or pushes forward a way of seeing I've been formulating or thinking about in advance. So, for me, while the world or outside influences will often defy my expectations and cause me to see in new ways, it can be as or more important to have created a space for myself to see in some desired way and then find ways to make that seeing palpable and real.
  31. Leslie above said: “The stick had grabbed my attention for some reason," For me that’s how it always happens. Whether I have a camera or not, potential photographs “grab my attention” even when I am not looking for things to photograph. "For some reason" is the important thing. Maybe that happens when we are "open" and being "aware." When I do have a camera I can widen, so to speak, my awareness to be even more sensitive to the scenes that grab my attention. I like the way Jon Kabat-Zinn describes Awareness in his lectures on mindfulness.
    Couple quotes from this lecture I used in a talk in the hospital where I work on using mindfulness in health care encounters:
    “Awareness is boundless and infinitely available in every moment no matter what you’re doing. So if the doing is in some sense coming out of being, out of awareness. . .”

    “Yes, we can formulate goals to get from here to there, but if we don’t know here, then the there is going to be colored by what we are unfamiliar with and unwilling to look at.”​
    So, in other words, maybe for me it’s the shift from thinking, which is focused, to a more general awareness, which then opens the door to the parts of my being that “see” the potential images out there. That’s the best way I can describe it.
  32. A simple example of what happens to me a lot occurred this evening when I went to the coop to buy some tomato sauce. It is foggy this evening and the trees under the street lamp in the parking lot lit up two trees. It immediately caught my attention and I "saw" a photograph. Usually I just move on, but tonight I went back and took the picture for an illustration here. Its not a "great" picture, but like Leslie, its an example of how the world "grabs my attention."
  33. The strange thing is that I've been going to this store since it was built over 20 years ago! So I've seen these trees since they were planted, at all times of day in all seasons. Only tonight did I "see" them like this. Go figure.
  34. Steve, I think you're too close in your narrative. What I take to be our "interior world" is our assumptions and beliefs that lie before, or frame, what you've described about your picture making. The assumptions and beliefs that you don't think about, that you don't even notice as you're shooting.
    Step back and look at this man on his way to buy tomatoes at night. It's night but there are no starry heavens above, no gods, no demons, no moon, no fear. Two small, tidy trees and two reigning artificial lights. Who is this man? What kind of world does he assume himself to be in? [notice my projections in using 'tidy' and 'reigning' in my description]
    Likewise, I think Leslie is too close. Step back. Imagine watching this person taking pictures of dead sticks in the water. What the heck is she doing? What kind of world view does she have in which dead sticks in the water are of any interest at all? What are her assumptions; what does she not think of at all because she lives within it?
    I have a number of books on West African photography (I realize Africa is a huge continent and its absurd to equate West with East, but I'm going to do it anyway). Every single picture contains people, and in most cases, many of their possessions as well. Dead sticks? Not once.
  35. One more thing, Jack . . . Your first post of 01/18 contains a statement that you're interested in how a photographer sees things. To me, in deciding to shoot a photograph, seeing isn't limited to human physiology. It's an act of consciousness that brings to bear all of the experience a photographer has had previously - as influenced by a number of factors ( socio-political, familial, etc.). This experience includes self-reflection.
  36. Michael. That inner world is like baggage we carry around with us. It is formative and effects our view but it
    also clips our wings and keeps us earthbound. It's transcending this world view, finding a new synthesis, that
    is always my aim as daunting and frustrating as that sometimes is. It certainly has a lot to do with consciousness which to me is practically a synonym for
    awareness. But consciousness is a state and more than simply the sum of all our parts. When you say "It's
    an act of consciousness..." I think you must be referring to intent, the absolute certainty that the question and
    the answer are intertwined. When we surrender our ego (which sets us apart from the world out there) and
    see ourselves as just another pixel in the great picture, we can experience the world anew and surprising
    possibilities spring into view. I think the reason we are seldom truly surprised by our photography is because we are too
    often trying to reinforce our closely held world view and fit the new within the parameters of the already known and accepted.
    The great street photographer Garry Winogrand often said he liked taking pictures because it was as close
    as he could get to not existing. In the few videos I've see, he seemed completely absorbed in the act of
    photographing, almost frenetic. Any other thoughts - all the noise and chatter and internal dialogue - seemed
    to have been banished - at least temporarily. As he said, "I get totally out of myself". The body of our knowledge and experience
    certainly play a large role in the act of creation but they are not creation itself but the matrix from which the
    creative act springs.

    That's the problem with dissertations like the above, before you know it you've burned a couple of hours.
    It's like a mental workout both as refreshing and tiring as a trip to the gym but definitely worthwhile in
    clarifying your thoughts.
  37. Steve - That's a terrific picture and one I would have been proud to have taken. It's always surprising when the
    known reveals itself in a new light - quite literally in this instance. It reminds me of an incident that also involved a tree and that happened to
    me back at the dawn of time, when I was 27 or so. I was doing "found art" sculpture at the time and didn't even
    own a camera. One night I was walking to a friend's house to play Pong (You do remember Pong, don't you,
    the first of the video games? That alone tells you how long ago it was.) It was winter and as I walked along the
    sidewalk, I saw a bare tree, it's branches back lit by the light from a street lamp. I think it was the first time I
    really appreciated the symmetry, exquisite rhythm and fractal beauty of the branches. It was a gift, a moment's
    awareness, and that brief experience impressed itself upon my memory to such an extent that I'm relating it to
    you over 45 years later. I think these little moments, if one appreciates them, are like seeds that grow and bear
    fruit in their own time.
  38. Based on my personal experience, and as shown by my example of “finding” a photograph, I struggle to grasp the idea of “projecting” our inner experience on “the canvas of the world at large.” I think Julie is saying this is something we do before we take the picture, perhaps our beliefs and so on. I struggle because I am not conscious of that aspect. We obviously have to have our own beliefs, preferences, learnings, personal experiences, memories, etc. but it doesn’t have to be conscious. Its just there, forming the unique entity that defines me, as Jack states: “The body of our knowledge and experience certainly play a large role in the act of creation but they are not creation itself but the matrix from which the creative act springs.” As I walk through the world’s canvas, my awareness is stimulated by what I see. My uniqueness forms a gestalt with the visual world around me when just the right stimulation occurs. My job is to be open in my awareness in order to be sensitive to this event, and to capture it if I can.
    Jack’s quote by Gary Winogrand is quite familiar to most of us, I’m sure: getting lost in our craft. I know I can intentionally “turn off” my mental chatter and worldly connections at will when I am in the act of concentrating visually on the world, and in a sense, losing awareness of myself, as Winogrand is referring to. I do this when I have a camera and I am intentionally waiting for that magical gestalt to form with the visual world outside of me. But, in my everyday life, like going to the store, that gestalt can still happen out of the blue, so to say. I have no control over that. I think that’s because we can never really turn off who we are. I also know I am a “creative” person in a broad sense. I get ideas all the time that turn out to be valuable across a wide range of applications, typically when I run into a road block or see a problem that needs solving. So for me the photographic ideas I get visually are just one facet of who I am as a creative individual. I particularly enjoy photography because it is outside my work, home life and all the other areas where I have to solve problems. I just do it for the fun, and, because those photographs just keep popping up in my awareness even when I am going to the store to buy tomato sauce.
  39. It does seem like the key idea here is mindfulness—being present in such a way that we’re not blocking our own view, and maybe seeing things in a way that separates what we know about “content”—the trees that Steve watched grow up—from what our eyes tell us about the magic of that light on those forms. Or maybe for others, quite the opposite: in a way that melds the content with the light and form in a way that provides a whole different kind of insight. But I know that when I was photographing the stick, I wasn’t seeing a stick. I was seeing light and dark and color and line and shape, and feeling tension and balance and harmony and discord, and not really thinking about those elements at all. I was snapping the shutter when things felt right. And that calls to mind Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow”: "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." To me that sounds a lot like what Garry Winogrand was describing. Csikszentmihalyi’s model suggests that flow is achieved when the challenge is in balance with the ability—you’re essentially surfing on your skill as a photographer. The interesting point there is that flow can be achieved at any skill level if that balance is there. It also strikes me that there’s a potentially huge overlap between the concept of “flow” and the ideas of “joy of creating” and the need for “self expression.” (And I also like that photo a lot, Steve!)
  40. Leslie, I agree wholeheartedly with your post above. I love the idea of "flow." I also love your reference to playing jazz. I've loved jazz since I was a pre-teen, when I discovered Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck and many others. It was the act of improvisation that I resonated with so much. I took up Tenor Sax myself in high school and college, and played with my rock band buddies in my twenties. Yeah, the creative act that "flows" seemingly "on top" of thought itself. It has to be grounded on experience and skill, however, or what jazz musicians refer to as "chops." There are people looking at the brain with MRI scans to try to figure out what is happening in the brain during acts of creativity. Here's one study you might enjoy: "This is Your Brain on Jazz. . ."
    Here's another MRI study of creativity using rappers:
    Jack, look what you've gotten us into!
  41. Thanks, Steve, happy to oblige. I had replied to Leslie's comment earlier or at least tried to but I kep getting an "Unable to post" message Maybe they don't want Leslie and I too get too close! Anyway, I'll try again.
  42. Leslie - Thanks for your thoughts and the photos you posted. Some of your comments resonated with me.
    "There’s an extraordinary richness to be had in trying to wrap one’s mind around other points of view. That
    translates to every aspect of life, and the connection to photography should be pretty obvious." This to me
    seems an intelligent observation but it's my experience that this is not how most of the world sees it. We
    seem bent on hanging
    onto our world view in constant competition with those who surround us. Butting heads leaves little room for
    conversation, developing new and deeper understandings or personal growth. We don't spend much time or
    in trying to understand why others might have different views of things. We're simply quite sure that we're
    right and
    "they" just don't get it.

    (I tried but I still can't post the rest of this comment though I don't know why they won't accept it. I'll try again later)
  43. The above comments, to me, seem to be mixing up creativity with doing something well. They're not the same thing at all.
    To my eye, both Steve's and Leslie's pictures are good, but both fit very comfortably, even complacently into fairly conservative manifestations of the current 'game' of photography in the cultures in which they live. They are 'playing' the game well — maybe semi-pro rather than at high school level — but they are very securely within the bounds and the understood parameters of how current 'good' photography is 'played.'
    I'm not denigrating what was described (a well-played game is a pleasure to watch precisely because I know the game), but neither Leslie nor Steve are, to my mind, in any way escaping the bounds of their internal worlds. The unconsciously assimilated 'game' of current photography is very much framing their acts, to my eye.
  44. Thanks, Steve - those are fascinating studies [the gist: during periods of creative activity, the areas of the brain associated with planned activity and inhibition become less active, while those associated with self-expression and “activities that convey individuality” become more active; cognitive control is dialed back while the ideas are happening, then dialed back up as the ideas are turned into expressions of the ideas. And because the cognitive control is dialed back, “the performance could seem to its creator to ‘have occurred outside of conscious awareness’”—that last point really echoes my experience in creative endeavors.] [I was also completely immersed in playing and writing music for a while, Steve--exhilarating times!] Those papers led me to a follow-up study that looked at beginning and experienced poets and found that the experts were better able to switch off the cognitive control than the novices were.
    So the challenge seems to be how to get into the state where ideas are flowing. Like you, Steve, picking up a camera is a pretty good ticket to visual awareness for me, but I notice that it has to be a comfortably familiar camera so I’m not hung up on trying to persuade the technology to do what I want it to. Intent is a big component, too—the time spent standing in lines or on long drives goes by painlessly if I’ve consciously switched over into the “seeing” mode. And then there are those wonderful moments like your trip to the grocery store, where the visual world asserts itself and invites you in. It also seems like creativity in one aspect of experience makes it easier to be creative in other aspects—maybe one gets addicted to feeling “flow” or the “joy of creating something” or “self expression” and so is more motivated to try new things that might get us there, or maybe it’s that one gets to be good at switching off the cognitive control at will once a certain level of proficiency is attained in a new activity.
  45. Art is all a matter of personality. —Marcel Duchamp
    I am interested in ideas, not merely in visual products. —Marcel Duchamp
    No art is less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and the study of the great masters. —Edgar Degas​
    I hope that if I care about my subject matter a lot will follow from that. I'm after something personal (which includes something communal, IMO) that feels in some ways authentic. There are many, many ways to accomplish that.
    Winogrand may feel like he "gets totally out of" himself, but it doesn't look like he does. His work has a consistency that shows me he's an author and not just a pixel. I have no problem with authorship, which bears a personality (maybe a better word than ego, which has a lot attached to it).
    I'm content to be who I am, part of which is being part of what we are. I embrace that nexus. I'm happy to add a meaningful and sincere voice to a shared vocabulary. I don't make photos to lose myself or to separate myself.
  46. Phil, I can relate to what you're saying and like the way you put it.
    The way I'd talk about photographing for me is that the "flow" is the bigger picture, the comings and goings of life, the back and forth between reflection and spontaneity, between thought and action, between feeling and form.
    So I may shoot in a more reflective way sometimes and in a less reflective way other times. My choosing of which photo of the day speaks to me may be very thoughtful and deliberative or it may be a gut thing. Same for my post processing. Throughout the process, from initial idea (if there is one) to shooting, to choosing, to editing, to presenting, I do some things intentionally and with forethought and some things spontaneously and with more gut response. They're not the same things each time.
    Sometimes, when I go out for long walks, I forget I'm even walking. Other times, I find myself actually concentrating on the act of walking and thinking very self-consciously (or self-awarely) about my walking. When I do think about myself walking, I don't find that I start tripping over myself. The same is true when I think about what and how I'm photographing, which happens sometimes. It doesn't have to get in my way.
  47. "That inner world is like baggage we carry around with us. It is formative and effects our view but it also clips our wings and keeps us earthbound."

    Jack, there's no doubt that each of us has some baggage to carry. Some have more than others. If I didn't have the good fortune to be able to rid myself (at least partially) of certain pieces of baggage, in all likelihood, you wouldn't find me participating in this discussion. You wouldn't find me sharing photographs I've taken or commenting on yours. Indeed, you may not find me at all. My baggage goes wherever I go, but it doesn't keep me earthbound all the time. Sometimes I'm able to break loose to go exploring.
  48. I'm also relating strongly to what you say, Phil--I experience additional periods of discovery and exploration when I'm looking at and editing the images; your point about viewing the images themselves as subjects really resonates. And I guess I'm interpreting Garry Winogrand's "getting out of oneself" in a different way than you, Fred--to me, it's not a matter of separating myself or shedding who I am (or am becoming--that was a nice distinction you made many posts ago), but a matter of being so comfortable with self and what I'm doing that the two meld; to me, "losing myself" implies being completely absorbed in what I'm doing. That absorption doesn't preclude the analytical aspects--there's a lot of planning and technical decision-making going on to actually craft the image, but for me the decisions in the field of what to try (the analytical step) seem to often be guided by a gut-level feel for what the image "needs" rather than by a conscious analysis of an image--I probably should be chimping a lot more than I do (which is uncomfortably close to never).
  49. Leslie, consciousness can be so much more than analysis. When I say I proceed sometimes thoughtfully and
    deliberatively, I'm not saying I therefore proceed by alayzing what I'm doing. But I may be keeping goals in mind, keeping
    in mind stylistic things I've been wanting to try, keeping in mind a movie I saw the other night that I feel like emulating, keeping in mind an Idea I've been wanting to work with or flesh out.

    Yes, I understood the "losing oneself" to be a figurative way of talking about complete absorption. And, still, I'm saying
    that's just not how I always or even often shoot, or process, or see. I am often distracted and not completely absorbed. Sometimes that
    internal dialogue is chattering away in my head, even as I shoot. And sometimes not. I've pretty much learned to go with
    the flow on what's going on with me when I'm doing various things. It's just as much fun for me to see my results when
    I've been extremely self aware or even distracted when shooting as it is when I've been more absorbed. I figure I may as
    well shoot the way I live and not necessarily impose particular methods on myself. Maybe for you and others it's completely natural to shoot in complete absorption mode. For me, it would feel like an imposition. I don't mind imposing things on myself sometimes and it's not like that sort of absorption never occurs for me. But, for me, it's just one way to get good results. I'm sure my non-committal way wouldn't work for everyone.
  50. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading this thread because it’s giving me a much deeper appreciation for the commonalities and differences in others’ approaches to photography. By seeing that, and by trying to articulate something coherent about my own approach, I’m getting a lot of insight into why I do what I do, and how that shapes what I end up with. That’s the sort of understanding that can come only from hearing others’ accounts of their own experience, and it’s sometimes difficult to convey those kinds of concepts and experiences because of the limitations of the vocabulary we have available—words mean different things to different people. All this is a long-winded way of apologizing for my misunderstandings of what others mean (sorry, Fred!). But it also strikes me that those misunderstandings themselves provide a lot of insight—the process of clearing them up is itself a process of honing the meanings.
    One of the reasons I enjoy looking at others’ photos is that it gives me a glimpse of how other photographers relate to the visual world in ways that are clearly different than mine. But it takes a discussion like this to shed some light on the basis for such differences, and that makes my enjoyment of others' photos even greater. And I wonder: how much of one's underlying approach can actually be read from one's images?
  51. Leslie, no need to apologize. I don't consider them misunderstandings so much as just part of ongoing dialogue, which so often includes clarifications and a healthy back and forth.
    how much of one's underlying approach can actually be read from one's images?​
    And I think a separate (though perhaps related) question is how much of one's personality (including one's social and moral leanings) comes out in their work assuming that our approaches don't always reflect that much about our personality traits. Two people may work similarly but have very different belief systems. Likewise two people may have similar belief systems but work differently. To what extent is the belief system being portrayed (consciously and unconsciously) in the work?
  52. Julie, MRI studies show that creativity is a distinctly different form of brain activity than non-creative brain activity. The result, whether it be music, or art, etc. is a product of that brain activity, regardless of how it fits in to anyone's definition of what is "really" creative. Saying that some things are just "doing something well" vs being creative is an artificial distinction. I think what you are talking about is when creative output is really different or unusual compared to what you see in general. I agree that there are those people who's creative output reaches beyond the expected, the "outliers" on the bell curve, so to speak, but that doesn't mean that all the other creative people are not really creative, but just competent. Nobody "escapes the bounds of their internal worlds," but they may have very different "internal worlds" and hence, create very new things compared to the rest of the pack. Some of the people with really different "internal worlds" and hence very new and unusual creative output can be just junk too. A lot of it is in the eye of the beholder, which is both cultural or individual or both.
  53. Steve, your study is circular: it assumes its conclusion (it assumes that such things as were MRI-ed are "creativity").
    If input is separated from output, I think maybe Jack can have his way and those who disagree with Jack can also have theirs. Try these two quotes from Walker Evans to see what I mean:
    Input: "The photograph is an instinctive reaction to a visual object. ... It's transcendent, you feel it. It's there, the vanished transcendent; an instance of chance, action and fortuity. It's there and you can't unfeel it."
    Output: Here Evans is talking about Atget, who's work he called 'lyric documentary.' According to Evans, the issue is "a poetry which is not 'the poetry of the street' or 'the poetry of Paris,' but the projection of Atget's person."
    [This crude input/output separation is meant to point to a fine distinction in this thread; it's not meant to be taken as anything more than that.]
  54. The reason I'm so slow to catch up with this thread is wonderfully suitable. I was back to the place in Italy where I lived for the last 7 years; as mentioned earlier only recently I moved back to my native country. The experience of living in a different culture and climate is something that I feel has had a considerable influence on my photos. At least the ones I made there.
    The light in the Mediterranean is different from NW Europe, and being used to the light conditions of NW Europe, I think that change alone triggered a lot already. The much warmer light, the deep gold near sun-down, also the blistering harshness of mid-day sun - it simply has made notice light and shadow more. Being key ingredients of any photo, that sure has left its traces.
    In addition, there is also what Leslie mentioned, and I think I understand why it resonates for Jack. Living in a different culture helps one being aware of one's own cultural limits, absurdities, strongholds; makes things all more relative as it becomes easier to understand the different point of view. Indeed a bit letting go of one thing, and never fully assuming the other thing. Not saying one has to live in a different country to do so, but I think it helps. I knew it threw me back to reconsider values, habits and my way to see things, and as such it made me more curious about various points of views too. And somehow I think curiosity is a big attribute in photography.

    I know it doesn't quite fit with where the discussion is now, I'm more 4 pages back - but it does (to me) underline how much the outer and inner world are interacting with one another all the time.
  55. Projecting one's interior world on the outside world by means of photography is but one of similar everyday interactions I have, and no doubt others may have, with the outside world. It is the price of the gift of thought acquired by the first sapiens and more recently part of one's personal history, values, sentiments and experience.
    The cause and effect between the two is as varied as the characteristics themselves of the various interior worlds and outside worlds, whether speaking of various and different individuals (including photographers) and the multitude of regions and cultures. Like Wouter and others, I have more than marginally benefitted from living with people of a different society, on one occasion overseas for 7 years and then in a neighbouring country for one year, and also with people in in a number of regions of distinct cultural makeup within my own country. The effect of these exterior worlds on my interior world has been beneficial to my curiosity and growth. Equivalent experiences and interactions between interior and exterior worlds can also be sensed and forged during one's absorbtion of literature, art and social study.
    The sum of influences means, I think, that our interior worlds are in constant evolution and part of that dynamic is to regularly take the inputs and express them in some manner in the outside world, to test them or to attempt to find some bridges between the two. Those acts, photographic or other, are somewhat akin to the art instructor's experiment of placing one's hand in a small bag of marbles, pebbles, small manmade articles, soft or hard or textured surfaces and, without looking at them, to draw an image that represents what is felt. Applying one's inner world to the exterior in photography is I think a little like that, semiconscious and based on somewhat imprecise application of interior knowledge, experience and sentiments to a creation of something in the outside world.
  56. Julie, I really don’t want to beat this to death, but for one thing the MRI studies were looking at the musician’s brains during the spontaneous creation of improvised music. “It’s a remarkable frame of mind,” he adds, “during which, all of a sudden, the musician is generating music that has never been heard, thought, practiced or played before. What comes out is completely spontaneous.” I would call that being creative. A lot of us here on pnet are being creative when we go out with a camera and get into the frame of mind that allows what many are referring to as “flow” or heightened awareness, or mindfulness, or whatever, and get images that are new, fresh and original for us as individuals. I believe all humans have a creative capacity. These quotes from the two articles I posted above explain this nicely:
    The researchers also saw increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which sits in the center of the brain’s frontal lobe. This area has been linked with self-expression and activities that convey individuality, such as telling a story about yourself.
    Limb notes that this type of brain activity may also be present during other types of improvisational behavior that are integral parts of life for artists and non-artists alike. For example, he notes, people are continually improvising words in conversations and improvising solutions to problems on the spot. “Without this type of creativity, humans wouldn’t have advanced as a species. It’s an integral part of who we are,” Limb says.​
  57. “It’s a remarkable frame of mind,” he adds, “during which, all of a sudden, the musician is generating music that has never been heard, thought, practiced or played before. What comes out is completely spontaneous.”

    I don't believe that. It's a matter of belief, not scientifically provable fact; whoever said that quote believes it. I don't. That's not science. It is my belief that nobody can be creative "at will." It happens when it happens, not when I want it to happen. Kind of like falling in love. I'm sure the musicians were acting like they were being creative, making sounds they had not heard before, but, to my belief, they were acting like they were falling in love, not falling in love.
    If you stick my head in an MRI and say "Be creative!" it's simply not going to happen. I know what being creative is like, but I can't do it on command. That's my belief. It's not yours. But belief is not science, either way.
  58. “It’s a remarkable frame of mind,” he adds, “during which, all of a sudden, the musician is generating music that has never been heard, thought, practiced or played before. What comes out is completely spontaneous.” I would call that being creative.​
    Steve, my problem with this is that a child could pick up an instrument, make a series of sounds, in an order that's never been heard, thought, practiced or played before, being spontaneous. I would not call that creative. I'd call it random strumming or horsing around.

    Creativity implies, to me, much more than spontaneity, even if the process includes spontaneity. Depth comes from experiences brought to the creative process, craft, often a degree of learning about one's field (formal or informal). Most jazz musicians have listened to jazz and other types of music. They don't generally spontaneously combust. Going out with a camera and getting into the flow, to me, is not a description of creativity. It's the description of an understanding of one very specific and not universally-experienced aspect of the creative process.

    Not all creative people use the kind of spontaneity involved in jazz. Classical composers tend to work in a much more studied and deliberate way and are every bit as creative. Mozart is one exception who often improvised and then wrote down those improvisations afterward.

    I agree with Julie that these are descriptions people employ about their process. Some genuinely feel that flow (whether that actually describes the extent of what's going on or not). It might be that one is conscious of or perhaps emphasizing the flow while not being conscious of or not emphasizing the non-flow aspects that are also at work.

    A description of a process does not necessarily tell the whole story of the process.
    A lot of us here on pnet are being creative when we go out with a camera and get into the frame of mind that allows what many are referring to as “flow” or heightened awareness, or mindfulness, or whatever, and get images that are new, fresh and original for us as individuals.​
    Agreed. I think it's also the case a lot of people here and elsewhere describe just this kind of flow and come up with images that are not new, fresh, or original.

    Creativity and originality are not one and the same thing. I believe one can be creative without necessarily being original. Some of my favorite art throughout history is not all that original but very creative. Many B film noir movies were highly unoriginal, often fitting into very formulaic constructions, and yet are masterfully created and a joy to watch. They are art and they are creative, IMO.
  59. I guess I'd say that creativity isn't just a matter of process. I think the result goes into the determination of creativity.
  60. It occurs to me that I don't have a good feel for what kinds of contemporary images people here consider to be particularly creative (though over in POTW we hear a lot about those that aren't considered to be creative). I would very much like to see some examples from you of photos in photonet portfolios (or rather, links to those photos) that you [and that's a second-person plural "you"] do consider above the norm for creativity--it'd give me a lot deeper understanding of the discussion here.
  61. Here are three PN photographers I think of as being consistently creative. Mind you, creativity is not more important to me than a lot of other things a photo or photographer may have. As a matter of fact, I think it's a much overused term. I am often taken with and moved by sincerity, authenticity, important documentary, moral and ethical questioning or stand-taking, social commentary, and more.
    BILLY K.
  62. Creativity results from the interplay of two opposite but complimentary forces: homeostasis and the tendency
    of things to change and drift into instability. The creative artist seeks to brings into the world something that does not
    exist, a new personal synthesis of what he accepts as reality. Of course here I’m talking in the macro sense; on an
    individual level it refers to our own personal battles with complacency, of blocked creativity, of becoming bored or annoyed with our own
    work. It’s that speck of sand that irritates the oyster but eventually brings about the pearl. There is a certain feeling of dis-satisfaction that, in time, nudges us out of our comfort zone. Actually, I
    think we realize to some extent that our comfort zone is not so comfortable after all, at least to that part of our spirit that becomes
    chafed within the seemingly immovable walls of the the box we find ourselves in. For the artist, finding himself trapped in the patterns he himself once
    brought about inevitably leads to some degree of frustration. An urge arises to go beyond the limits we have come up against. This leads to a countering force and the wind against which we all must sail. I think there is a largely ignored part
    of ourselves that subconsciously seeks just what we profess to escape – certainty, predictability, security. Humans, like all animals, generally seek stability and are
    usually more comfortable with the defined and the known, whether of our own creation or borrowed from
    someone else and adopted as a personal world view. This is the essence of the term homeostasis; when
    used in reference to psychological processes it is defined as: “a state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension
    or a drive has been reduced or eliminated."
    It is an unconscious process , a very strong force and one that should not be underestimated. It does not invite
    questions and it does not enjoy tension, artistic or otherwise. It holds us to our set notion of reality as a pin fixes a butterfly specimen to its display board, a pretty
    thing to be admired for sure but something that is static, a representation but not a living one. In terms of the
    arts, it is a kind of hardening of the creative arteries that can only be overcome by intent and an act of will.
    But even then there is no instant quid pro quo between effort and genesis. There is a period of gestation
    here as in every process in our world. From my experience I am certain that if I demand a new vision it will
    come but I can’t order it like something from Amazon; it comes at its own time and in its own form. It appears as a kind of natural grace, fervently desired and the result of work but a gift nonetheless. I only
    know that if the question is sincere and asked with sufficient fervor, that the force of my demand will spark some new twist in the cosmos that I will understand is an answer to my efforts.
    Jesus’ words from the New Testament are applicable here and I believe enunciate a scientific principle as
    well as a the standard religious one: Ask and you shall receive; knock and it will be open to you. Of course he didn’t
    say how long it would take before the door would swing open..
  63. "Ask and you shall receive ... "
    What's the question?
  64. I think many artists show a willingness to stay within certain patterns and don't feel trapped by them at all. There is no one secret to creativity. Bach worked within the fugue format for most of his life . . . a pattern he was perfectly willing to keep exploring and re-exploring. Nothing could be further from the truth than seeing Bach as somehow trapped by this. His pattern and formula liberated him. Look at most great artists you know. The reason you can often recognize their work fairly readily is precisely because they struck on an idea, a method, what have you, and explored it fully, not because they were constantly coming up against their own homeostasis. I don't think of Monet, for example, or Mapplethorpe as constantly demanding new visions of themselves but rather of having a fairly singular creative vision throughout their careers that they wanted to see through and build upon over time. No doubt, other artists were constantly seeking something new. It's also worth considering that the unrelenting desire for a new vision may just mean that something is lacking in the vision you're constantly trying to override or escape.
  65. In my opinion:
    The creativity isn't in the execution.
    Creativity isn't something that you ask for. It's something you listen for and it is a question not an answer. Being able to hear a question that you don't understand and that makes no 'sense.' That's where creativity happens. The execution; the figuring out how to get there from here falls out of that. The question will contain its own undoing once you have it.
    Bach's question was the glory of God. Mapplethorpe looked at the way the male nude was portrayed and what the male nude was, the forces it embodied and knew his question.
    Listening and finding questions that aren't questions to anybody else until the artist finds that question and makes a way into that question; that is creativity. It's not the answers that are creative except insofar as they make apparent the question they are embodying to the world. I think everybody after the artist will come up with answer after answer, but it was the question that is genesis.
  66. Good point Fred about creativity not being exactly the same as originality.
    Leslie, I think many of the folks contributing to this very thread have creative and original work in their portfolios. One person who stopped posting a few years ago, Emil Schildt, is to me a prime example of creativity and originality.
    Julie, you and I will probably always disagree on certain things. I have a psychology background and I do think using brain scans does tell us something which someday maybe valuable about understanding the brain. I guarantee your brain looks different when you are being creative, but I accept that's a moot point here, and actually not important for anyone except brain scientists, and certainly not artists!
    I am known and respected by my peers (I work in a hospital with doctors and nurses and therapists) as a highly creative person in general, and that's not because I do photography (few people know that). I seem to be able to come up with fresh ideas all the time and put them to work. I agree that creativity often starts when there is a question, a problem to be solved. But, often other people don't even know there is a problem so they obviously aren't looking for an answer. For me the problem and answer often come to me simultaneously. At least, that's how it seems to work for me.
    When I do photography, I am only trying to satisfy myself, not anyone else, not the art world, etc. I just want to capture those images that when I see them my mind gets excited and literally screams at me: "that's it, get it." If I can get it, and then work on it a bit more to fine tune it, I get a rush of pleasure, a deep satisfaction. I have no goal, ideology, no deep burning question, no demand, just a mind that sees things and says to me "that's it." It could be something out in nature or a person's face, or anything. I'm not concerned about originality either. That's the best way I can describe photography for me.
  67. I agree with you, Julie. The question is the itch that must be scratched. The substance of the motivation is not
    really my concern. I'm not certain that artists themselves know quite what motivates them. So when I say
    question I mean that creative urge or that unfulfilled desire that if pursued diligently enough will manifest an "answer", often in surprising ways, on the physical plane. I think in a certain way we call "reality" into existence either by accepting a patterned
    collective agreement or - and this is the case here - by creating a new synthesis. On the individual level, I think, what we find is determined by the
    passion with which we pursue our quest. I also agree with you that individual acts of creation spring from
    individual questions. Politicians - and I use this term in the most general sense - are almost always more interested in providing answers than in asking real questions. If you have no questions, no urge to look deeper or understand more fully, then you are doomed to be
    stuck in the room in which you find yourself and the choices available to you will be limited to things like what color to paint
    the walls or whether or not to change the furniture. It's the question that provides the doorway into other rooms with other views
    and a whole different set of possibilities.
  68. Steve - You beat me to it by just a hair and so your post intercepted my reply to Julie's comment. I think what I
    take from your ideas is the need to be open enough and present enough to respond to the opportunities that
    are offered to us whether as a business professional or as an artist. After all, if you think you already have all
    the answers. how can you come up with new solutions?
  69. Steve, that I don't think that, as you put it, "just a mind that sees things and says to me "that's I," " is creative doesn't mean that it's not somehow "enough." In itself, what results can be, and in art, often is more satisfying and enjoyable than what the creative artist generates out of his struggle with the amorphous.
    Where the river runs is not creative, but it is beautiful. The life and death dance of a cheetah chasing a gazelle is not creative on the part of either, even though it is unique and gorgeous. A bird's nest, each bird's nest is a work of incredible innovation in its parts, in its placement and in its differences, but it is not creative. The performance of great athletes is not creative; I would say it is wonderful and awe inspiring because it conforms.
  70. We seldom seem to be able to separate our concepts of craft and art, or of perfection and refined works compared to what is original and unique. Mozart is thought by some as a refined craftsman because he didn't invent the musical forms he applied, but that can be countered by the knowledge that he did so in a manner that is unique and inspiring to others, in works of creative content. In that sense his works are original and creative. When Picasso comments that copying is something all great artists do and also copies some existing ideas does that make his work less creative? I doubt it. Adams was a superb craftsman who had some creative insights into the action of light and the majesty of nature, but how many of his works can be considered creative? The same is true for the well-known portraitist Yousef Karsh who took a leaf from Adam's works and used light and B&W tonality to give his subjects an intimate nature that some viewers appreciate, but I don't think all his works are creative (A good friend long departed was photographed by the master but without great success).
    One can cite many examples where the line between high craftsmanship and creativity is obscure, or at least so much so that opinions are divided on stating which is which. All humans are capable of small creative acts, which are lost among the craft of living. However, even those very small creative acts outdistance Julie's considerable appreciation of the intricacies of a bird's nest construction, which for all its beauty, is simply the accumulation of millions of years of iterative progress on the same project.
    When the jet engine was first proposed in 1912 its originality was not appreciated. The collective ability of humans at that time was incapable of seeing its worth and only many years later was the idea applied (The idea was rejected as planes were travelling at slow speeds at which level the engine was patently inefficient). Art is like such imaginative engineering invention. It is often beyond the capability of the viewer to recognize it. What we recognize are the well trodden paths of high craft, like Steve's link to some very well lit, executed and composed portraits and nude studies that make me think of the more run of the mill works of Adams and Karsh.
    Creativity in photography ends up being a question of degree. Small and great creativity have the same parents, but differing outcomes. The OP's suggestion of the importance of the interior world of the artist is no doubt part of the process of increasing that degree. It's also the part of the potential that very minor and struggling photographers like myself need to more fully understand and apply.
  71. I don't think any of those small things are creative: I think they are attempts to conform to an existing need. Creativity is not conformity. In my opinion.
    It's worth pointing out, that creativity is amoral.
    Monsters and mad men are marvelously, horribly creative. I think this amoral-ness is what makes creativity less interesting or even somewhat repulsive to some artists. Or, if they are creative in the interest of a moral end, it seems to me that their effort is to incorporate it; to in effect uncreate it by ingesting its strangeness into the existing worldview (as opposed to growing different to include it).
  72. It's worth pointing out, that creativity is amoral.​
    And it's kind of worth pointing out just the opposite. Not to say that creativity is necessarily moral. That would be just as untrue for me as saying it's not. But it certainly can be and has been.

    Who was the First Creator, and what did She say? Something along the lines of, "And it was good." Every darn day! ;-)

    There's morality in Bach's glory to God . . . and in Mapplethorpe. Bach was praising and Mapplethorpe was consciously throwing big penises and dildos in people's faces, confronting morality as he did so.

    Jack Fritscher, editor of Drummer magazine who helped launch Mapplethorpe's career:
    The homomasculine power of those pictures excited him so viscerally that he swooned with a gut punch of carnal mysticism. The forbidden photos also outed his sadomasochistic identity in exactly the way that some Catholic boys suddenly discover that the muscular bearded Jesus hanging stripped and crucified over the altar is hot. He laboured throughout his career to inject that sex rush, that religious feeling, that existential frisson, into his holy pictures of leather sex, black men, celebrity women and flowers brilliant as night-blooming sex organs. Later on, he sweated with white guilt trying to make his quest for black beauty keep him from the mortal sin of racism.
    These notions of sin and the forbidden as well as guilt aren't amoral and they're at play from the beginning in Mapplethorpe.
    Try as you like to straight-jacket creativity into a singular notion that fits all acts of creation, and you will fail, as is the case in this thread.

    Creativity has all sorts of beginnings and all sorts of motivations.

    Ask all the questions you like, or be open to finding questions at your doorstep and I will call you inquisitive, not creative. Make something (and that can be a matter of building ideas) and I will call you creative. Make (or in some cases find) art and I will call you an artist.
  73. Your opinion is always welcome. Personal attacks are not.
    What Mapplethorpe was doing and how people reacted to it are two different things. To my eye, he was exploring what he saw and the power of it, not trying to make any moral statement. That others reacted with moral judgment is another matter.
  74. Having read quite a bit about Mapplethorpe, not to mention just looking at his work, I am pretty sure it's not just a matter of others reacting with moral judgment. He was motivated by his own sense of morality and as well by how others saw him in a moral sense.
    I always thought I was good. That's why it was so frustrating when other people didn't agree. —Mapplethorpe
    Beauty and the devil are the same thing. —Mapplethorpe​
    I read these both as motivating and moral statements.

    [What personal attack? I made no personal attack. Look again.]
  75. That's better. Thank you.
    'Good,' from Mapplethorpe and God doesn't mean morally good. 'Good' has several meanings.
    You take "Beauty and the devil are the same thing," to be a moral or an amoral statement?
  76. Julie,
    I think this is an important distinction and I'll make it only once and then be done with it.
    Here are two examples of a personal attack: "Crooked Hillary," "Little Marco."
    They are personal attacks because they attack the person and not the ideas.
    Here's an example of an argument against an idea or way of thinking: "Try as you like to straight-jacket creativity into a singular notion that fits all acts of creation, and you will fail, as is the case in this thread."

    That I think you've straight-jacketed creativity into a singular notion is not a personal attack. That I think your method of thinking and logic fails is not a personal attack. I won't apologize for or stop speaking this way.
  77. Yes, the devil is the symbol of evil. I think most people take Beauty to be good. By associating beauty with the devil, I think Mapplethorpe is intentionally being morally provocative and quite directly questioning prevailing notions of what is good in a moral sense. I think his photography and not just his words shows that.
  78. " ... and then be done with it."
    Thank you. That would be lovely.
    Re Mapplethorpe, I think you're putting words in his mouth. Maybe he thought that. Maybe not. If so, I'm pretty disappointed. I thought he was being creative, not pushing an agenda.
  79. I think he was being both creative and provocative. "Pushing an agenda" puts an unnecessarily negative spin on what he was doing. Being motivated by a goal or questioning moral norms doesn't have to be seen as pushing an agenda, though it's a common reactionary way of spinning things. I have no interest in quieting artists from making political, social, and moral statements.
    If Picasso was "pushing an agenda," so be it. I don't care what you call it. Whether it was a moral statement he felt he needed to make or an agenda he wanted to push doesn't impact his creativity.
    Picasso said: "The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? ... In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death."
    Making moral and political statements (pushing an agenda, if you must call it this) is not incompatible with being creative.
  80. An agenda is something you already have. You don't create things you already have.
  81. "When I have sex with someone I forget who I am. For a minute I even forget I'm human. It's the same thing when I'm behind the camera. I forget I exist." — Robert Mapplethorpe, quoted in Morrisroe, A Biography, p. 193
  82. Picasso wasn't creating the morality or social judgments he may have already been holding. He created a PAINTING, using
    some of his already-held social and moral beliefs as motivation to do so and in order to express or communicate them as

    We've been talking about (your repressive choice of words) an "agenda" motivating or being communicated through creativity. You're conflating that with an agenda being creative, which it may very well not be. It's the making of the painting that's creative, the moral, social, or political belief driving that creativity. I'm not claiming the belief is creative. I'm saying creating the painting is. And I'm saying creating the painting is not amoral.
  83. Yes, I also like that quote by Mapplethorpe. Quotes are best taken altogether to arrive at a complex and multi-dimensional
    picture of the person being questioned rather than trying to limit someone to a narrow or singular being. I also bring in a
    lot of stuff Patti Smith related about Mapplethorpe's thinking and actions as he pursued his art, illuminating actions he
    took relayed by others as well. He may well have forgotten himself behind the camera. But he certainly didn't forget either
    himself or his ego when he was courting Warhol and the inner circles of the NYC art world. His creativity is not limited to
    the moment when his eye is behind the camera. Just as I believe Steve's creativity is not limited to the flow he feels when
    he's shooting.
  84. "I don't think there's that much difference between a photograph of a fist up someone's ass and a photograph of carnations in a bowl. ... It's a different subject, same treatment, same vision, which is what it's all about — my eyes as opposed to someone else's." — Robert Mapplethorpe, quoted in Hershkovits, "Shock of the Black and Blue," 10
  85. That's right. He's obviously very conscious of his "agenda" of treating penises, assholes, and flowers as equals. For me, it's
    not a chicken and egg thing, not a matter of caring if his eyes just happened to see so democratically and then he
    formulated his statement afterward or whether he had these pre-held beliefs about fisting and flowers and then portrayed
    this lack of difference in his photos. I think it was probably a back and forth . . . His beliefs informing his photos and seeing
    and his seeing and photos informing his beliefs. Regardless, the body of work has a moral dimension. I don't see how the
    equal treatment of a fist up someone's ass and a bowl of carnations, especially at the time he was doing this, was
    somehow amoral. That would be bizarre.
  86. Dante quotes Mapplethorpe as saying that he was "playing with the edge that separates art from mere pornography."

    Mapplethorpe was no dope. And he was not a morally neutral, belief challenged creator who saw only with his eyes and
    not with a sense of what he wanted to say and what his body of work was to be about. His descriptions of how he worked
    and felt while he was working don't tell the full story of his creativity.

    All this being said, Mapplethorpe is not among my favorite photographers and I think he was more provocative than
    creative, which doesn't diminish his historical importance as a photographer. But his images themselves don't provoke me
    as aesthetically as they do socially. I think there's more style than substance to a lot of his work.

    To me, art is about both substance and style, and the substance is often taking a moral, philosophical, social, political or
    other kind of stand. I never found the dialogue between substance and style in Mapplethorpe's photos as moving or enlightening as many other photographers.
  87. Do you think Weston was interested in creativity?
  88. I'm not criticizing Weston. I just don't think he was interested in being creative. I think he loved beauty. I think he never doubted or questioned his conception, his preconceived conception of what beauty was. I don't think it even occurred to him to do so. Finding embodiments of such beauty was, of course, a struggle (the work).
    I'm glad he didn't doubt his conceptions — his work is gorgeous. But I would have loved to see what he might have done had he questioned his interior world view.
    When he and Charis were driving around on his Guggenheim grant, she would look out for "Westons." When she spotted one, they would stop and, if all went well, he would photograph it.
  89. Weston wasn't creative?
    What he might have done if only . . . ?
    I get really miffed when I hear people put down academia and spout anti-intellectual views. It's pretty common these days. But, when academics calls into question Weston's creativity and wonders what he might have accomplished if only he'd questioned his preconceptions, academia has gone off the rails. This is not, though, an indictment of academia. It is meant to question a world view that seems born only of eccentrically-defined concepts and not actual human experience. Once Weston is defined outside of creativity, creativity has suffered a great loss.
  90. The author of the essay questions Weston's use of terms like 'essence' and 'quintessence' in his writings when describing his approach to subjects and which seemingly contradict with some of his other writings where Weston also talks about the importance of the individuality and intelligence of the photographer behind the camera.​
    Glad you included this. Most of us live with contradictions and I find a great amount of contradictory statements among the same artist's words. For one, context is everything, and a lack of context for a quote will often make it seem like something different from when it was said at the time. Secondly, I think many artists struggle with conflict, so the utterance of contradictions even within the same essay, is relatively easy to understand, not to mention provocative to consider. While I may look for consistency of thought and reasoning in a logician, that's not the way I read artists. I take most artist's writing and thinking more impressionistically.
  91. Artists often seem to display some dichotomy of their thoughts and actions. Weston, like other creative human beings, was probably influenced by the dual process of the exterior world interacting with his interior self and the interior world conditioning the perception of the exterior world. The example of the latter may be that of the "Westons" observed by Charis. While they may be written off as simply a recognizable style that may issue from other than an interior world, the perceptive uniqueness of Weston's images speak more to an interior world derivation.
    Only a few posts have considered the opposite influence of the exterior world on the interior world, but the two are I think are always in constant play together. When I photograph, I am often conscious of the evident and more hidden spirit of the place that I am in, something that feeds my curiosity and the way I see subjects. Marx stated that man sees everything around him as part of who he is. The uncontrolled presence of nature is a fresh experience that can free him from such predictability. Having spent some time living in the depressing rigid conformity of many North American urban planned cities of grid layout with their cookie cutter architecture duplication it is refreshing to see and be influenced by exterior worlds that deny that conformity. Sometimes these are simply arresting human activities within those grids, but also can be places of more charm or indentity. By escaping habits and conformities, we let our interior world better express itself.
    On the question of creativity and originality being different, I would really like to see some concrete examples of this. I think of the two as being intimately related, but would be glad to be shown contrary examples.
  92. On the question of creativity and originality being different, I would really like to see some concrete examples of this. I think of the two as being intimately related, but would be glad to be shown contrary examples.​
    This will be virtually impossible to answer because it will be too easy simply to define creativity as something coming from the inner world of a person (at least in part) and then, because it comes from that inner world, it is seen as original. Therefore, anything a unique individual does becomes, by definition, original. Because no one else did precisely that. Presto, originality and creativity become forever intertwined and any example given of someone creating something automatically becomes original because some individual created it. Now, if we are, on the other hand, willing to accept that individual or creating from one's interior self doesn't HAVE TO BE original (but just has to be individual), we might get somewhere.

    Tchaikovsky's Mozartiana is creative but not original.

    All the many practitioners of cubism who followed Picasso's and Braque's leads were creative but less original.

    The song NO OTHER LOVE, appropriated from Chopin, is creative but not original.
    Most B film noir movies are creative but not original.
    Many impressionist painters were creative but not original.
    Todd Haynes's Far From Heaven is much less original but only a little less creative than the original he paid homage to, Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows.
    Why do we differentiate between an original screenplay and an adapted screenplay? We don't say one is creative and one is non-creative, but we do recognize that one is original and one is adapted!
    I've purposely mimicked several well-known photographers in a few of my own photos. I consider them not original but think of them still as creative. I think most photographers have emulated, at least at times, other photographers they appreciate. Those photos have less to do with originality than creativity, IMO.
  93. The question Jack proposed for this thread has obviously and necessarily driven discussions about creativity, originality, states of mind, philosophy, innovation, personality, conscious and unconscious, etc. You can tell from the involvement these are important concepts for many of us participating here. We’ll never all agree on everything, obviously. I appreciate the fact that we come from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences which encourages me to think and consider things in new ways. My personal belief (which has scientific support) is that humans are genetically designed for innovation in order to survive as a species. Everybody knows the familiar Picasso quote: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Our brains are rewarded, literally, when we do something or discover something that is especially good, which reinforces that behavior to enhance survival. It feels good to do something creative, in other words, which is rewarding in itself. To me, creativity is picking up a camera and simply looking for something to photograph, or drawing, or strumming a guitar inventively, or writing a poem, writing a story, or even solving a mechanical problem with your lawn mower by grabbing some odd parts you have in the garage. Any time you enter that frame of mind where you are opening your mind to possibilities that are “out there” and waiting for you to discover, is creativity. Sure, you can complicate this with personality quirks, education, different motivations, desire for fame, etc. but the bottom line is that creativity is innately rewarding, no matter how basic, or unschooled, or childlike, or simple. The fact that we are all participating in a forum which is dedicated to photography where we share our images and our thinking, I think illustrates how important and rewarding exploring our own creativity is to all of us. Because we are all different means we all experience the creative act in our own unique way, and our photographs express those differences. Vive la difference!
  94. Well then. My dogs are incredibly creative. I've seen some very creative birds. Bees, even ...
  95. Steve, while I think for many "creativity is innately rewarding" or at least rewarding even if not innately, I think there are many counterexamples to that, where creativity has nothing to do with personal reward. In many cases, creativity is driven, often by fear, sometimes by madness.
    Here's Edvard Munch . . .
    "My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious—to the point of psychoneurosis. From him I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born. I inherited two of mankind's most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity."
    I don't think he ultimately is painting as a catharsis or is being personally rewarded by his creativity. His creativity is born of a very different flavor from anything like personal reward. It is a kind of madness, it's fright, it's nightmare, he can't help it and may not even want it. He doesn't seem to have a choice.
    A bit more from Munch . . .
    "I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature. For several years I was almost mad . . . You know my picture, 'The Scream?' I was stretched to the limit—nature was screaming in my blood. . . After that I gave up hope ever of being able to love again."
    This does not sound like a man who felt the rewards of creativity.
  96. Phil. I agree. One can both be driven the way Munch was and still find the creative aspect rewarding. I don't get that impression reading about Munch and seeing his work. I was giving one counterexample and, of course, not talking about all cases. I'd be shocked to learn that all creativity was a matter of personal reward just as I'd be shocked to learn that all creativity was a matter of what it was for Munch, or for Steve, or for you.
  97. Fred, first thanks for responding with some examples, although I still feel originality and creativity are very similar and intertwined. The original film featuring Roberto Bellini in "La vie est belle" (Life is beautiful) about a father's encouragement/protection of his son while they were in an internment camp under the Nazis, was both original and creative, yet the subsequent North American copy was anything but. "La la land" is a creative and original film that nonetheless borrows in part the energy and spontaneity common to preceding films like "Dancer in the Dark" (creative music scenes that empathize the film theme). There are déjà vu or clichés in parts of each work, but some fabric of originality and creativity seems to come through in both.
    One has to consider the severe artistic trials of both Munch (continuously ignored by critics and salons in his time) and Von Gogh when comparing madness and creativity. Munch was not really mad I believe but instead he was the downtrodden artist feeling things much more intensely than his compatriots. Such intense feelings often characterize very gifted and original artists who have to battle conventional thought.
    I am interested if anyone else is occupied by the play between interior world and exterior world inputs and outputs in the work of a photographer. I think it is difficult to ignore or separate the influence of both, and how each nutures the other. We are never really static in the composition of our interior world, but always evolving, if only slowly and in small incremental steps.
  98. I don't think Munch is talking about inspiration. I think he's talking about who he is. From what I've read about Munch, I
    don't think of his paintings or the act of him painting as a reward. If you do, so be it. It's fine for us to disagree.
  99. Arthur, I think your examples show that things that are creative can most certainly also be original. I never doubted that so
    you're preaching to the choir. My examples were meant to show that not ALL creative things are original, thereby
    suggesting important differences between creativity and originality. I can give a whole lot of examples of males who are
    also adults. As a matter of fact, most males are adults because most males are over the age of 18 or 21. That doesn't
    make the concept of male and the concept of adult similar. If I give an example of, say, my nephew, who is age six, to
    show the difference between maleness and adulthood, your giving as a response a male adult really
    wouldn't be a helpful example in showing the supposed similarity or intimate relationship between the concepts of maleness and adulthood. It would simply
    show that often males are adults. You've shown me that sometimes creativity involves originality,
    something I already knew. You haven't shown that the two concepts are similar or that they necessarily go hand in hand.
  100. OK, Phil, I'll grant that who one is informs one's inspiration. That's not the point. The point is that I don't see Munch's act
    of creation or his creations themselves as a reward to him. And I don't get the sense he felt them as rewards either. I
    could be wrong. its just my thinking. I'm not asserting facts.
  101. When I hear Munch talk about who he is and his inspiration like that, it doesn't give me a picture of someone who would
    feel or be rewarded by the act of creation or the creation itself that results. As a matter of fact, I think in many cases a
    creation might just do the opposite, not reward but actually provoke further fear, lack of resolution, more dread, or more
  102. Arthur, I guess I'm thinking in terms of the Latin derivation of the word "creative" which is about MAKING. That, to me, is
    the most significant aspect of the concept of creativity, the desire and ability to make something based on one's feelings,
    thoughts, obsessions, fears, insanity, whatever, or even a public need that doesn't have to be all that personal. Now, of course, in one sense to make what was not there before is
    making something original in a very technical sense. But I think if I am inspired by my own experience or feelings or
    thoughts to make something similar to what someone else has made, that is a creative act and process even though it's
    not original because it had been done before. Coming up with new paradigms is what I see as original. But I think
    lots of creative people work within already established paradigms and are still creative though likely not as original.
  103. Fred, I agree (with your comment a few posts back), and I mentioned above: "you can complicate this with personality quirks, education, different motivations, desire for fame, etc." We know that mental illness is sometimes linked with creativity, which makes sense because a person with internal or external voices, visions, delusions, or just unusual ways of thinking, etc. are going to express themselves in ways the rest of us simply don't have access to. I work in a mental hospital, and I personally know several artists and musicians who are successful with their creativity, which is probably attributable to their unusual patterns of thinking and expressing. I know a lot of people with bi-polar disorder and the speed and agility they have when putting ideas together just amazes me. But, I still maintain the bottom line is that innovation and creativity is vital for the survival of our species and it is biologically driven no matter what kind of complicating dimensions you can point out with specific examples. Sure, the average person taking a photo of his or her favorite sunset on the lake is not blazing any new trails for the art galleries, but that person is creating a “work” that is unique to them and I believe they are getting a reward from their brain as they do so.
    Julie, check out this book:
  104. Steve, the reason I don't accept the reward theory of creativity is that I find it unrealistically hedonistic. Not every choice to be creative and not every act of creation gives the creator a reward, unless we want to find ourselves saying that every choice anyone ever makes ultimately is rewarding or we wouldn't make it. People have sacrificed greatly to create. Some have sacrificed their marriages and families, others have sacrificed their livelihoods, many have sacrificed their health and well being. Of course, we can mentally gyrate and say they wouldn't have made those sacrifices if they weren't getting some brain reward or personal reward. I can't and won't think that way. I don't think all sacrifices ultimately are selfish or about rewards to ourselves. I think we can sometimes choose to suffer harm. There are selfless acts of creation. And there are acts of creation that come with self punishment, not reward. And I don't even think the frame of reward and/or punishment is a great paradigm in which to view creativity to begin with.
  105. Steve, given your description (with which, as you know, I don't agree) what is not creative? If I scratch myself, think about it and scratch myself more successfully, is that creative?
    What do you consider a creative "success" and what a "failure"? Everything? The mere attempt? What is "better" and what is "worse"? Why?
  106. Firstly, my apologies to the more assiduous posters and readers of this OP for my cavalier and very summary following of these debates on creativity and the interior world of the photographer/artist. I am not privileged to read and consider everything in the necessary detail to respond in like manner.
    Notwithstanding, my impression is that the desire to create is a very natural one. Perhaps a hundred thousand years ago the human brain reached the level that we could call ourselves sapiens and use and benefit from such memory and cognition to advance our lives and art. Recorded history is there to tell us that as individuals we do not create equally and sometimes the results of our creation go unrecognised for decades or even centuries. Questions of creative success or not are often not judged in the lifespan of the creating individual. We all have to put bread on the table or even advance our status in our own group and some would put creativity as a parameter and reward in achieving either, but on the whole my feeling is that we mobilize our interior world to achieve creative results simply because we recognize such action as being among the highest we might attain to, we fully enjoy the process of exploration and discovery, and because the inbred tradition of sapiens has been to create, in one way or the other.
    If that all seems mundane kitchen sink philosophy or social observation, so be it - This morning I am about to try my recent recipe for crepes, with an undisclosed ingredient and a soft local cheese, married to our splendid regional maple syrup....
  107. Arthur, why do you think creativity is somehow innate? Creativity is not synonymous with change or difference or even innovation. All of those, change, difference, or innovation can be achieved by moving the furniture around in your room. Creativity requires that you leave the room, in my opinion. That's not only not an innate urge, it's probably contrary to our innate inclinations.
    Creativity is also not synonymous with 'art.' Many of the very greatest artists strove to conform to given religious concepts or myths, as well as given ideas of ideal forms. That's directly counter to 'leaving the room.'
  108. we mobilize our interior world to achieve creative results simply because we recognize such action as being among the highest we might attain to​
    Are we really going to start ranking actions here? Should we include caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, going to strange countries to take hammer in hand and build houses? How about community activism in helping people find jobs or needed services? How about political activism in putting one's life on the line to resist tyranny? How about public defenders who are on the front lines of the social justice movement? How about . . .

    I'm not saying photography and creativity aren't important and can't be "high" activities, though for most photography is a creative hobby and nothing more. I'd say anyone here suggesting it's among the highest actions they might attain to should get out more and get over themselves.
  109. First off, I want you guys to know that I highly respect your thinking and opinions as really intelligent (and creative) people. It is difficult to define some of these concepts such as creativity. I perused some of the scientific literature and even there it is not clearly defined. Fred, when I am talking about “reward” which you are picking up on and reacting to, I am not referring to anything conscious. I should have made it more clear I am talking about literally an increase in dopamine in the brain, which tells a person what they just did was “better than expected, and that it might be important for survival.” This instinctual response doesn’t always turn out so well, as in the case of becoming addicted. Certain drugs, or behaviors fool the brain into thinking it is needed for survival because they artificially stimulate the brain with large amounts of dopamine. Once addicted, the person can literally die chasing that dopamine rush that his or her brain is telling them survival is at stake without it. But, normally, we get that reward all the time for various behaviors. All I’m saying is that when a person does some type of authentic personal expression, they may get a spike in dopamine, especially when the result pleases them and other people in many cases. A species can’t survive if important behaviors and habits aren’t reinforced biologically. I was just watching the Sunday Morning show in CBS and they featured some new innovations in storing electricity. One used blocks of ice, another a huge spinning centrifuge, and another used reservoirs. These are creative ideas from somebody. This type of innovation results in benefits to humanity as a whole, and I believe the initial impetus starts with the person coming up with the idea had a moment of authentic personal expression. I do appreciate where you are coming from, and I can see why you object to my ideas. As you stated: “there are acts of creation that come with self punishment, not reward,” I’m not going to disagree with that. It gets really complicated when we add in the difficulties and demands of life as a human being. I’m not proposing any paradigms for creativity. As I said, the scientific community hasn’t even agreed upon that one yet. I’m only talking about a very basic biological level response that is built into all of us and probably some animals as well. Just watch children play. It’s amazing. Yesterday my almost 4 year old granddaughter made something out of Legos. She always runs over to me to proudly show me what she made. I asked her what it was so she made up a nonsense word to describe it. Then I asked her what it was for. She paused for a second and replied: “its to stimulate your imagination.”
    Julie, yah, we are on very different pages! But that’s OK. I am amazed and often frustrated by the creative originality of your posts, which often I have to work at to fully appreciate! I think we both have very different internal ideas about creativity, obviously. My own idea is that creativity is defined as authentic personal expression. Many of the posts in these threads I think are very creative, because they authentically reflect the personality of the poster. I think that the value, or what you are referring to as “success or failure” placed on any authentic personal expression is determined by society, not the individual creator. My photos are a success to me if I am satisfied with them (I got the dopamine hit) and I also am gratified if other people express an enjoyment of them as well, but that’s just icing on the cake. If you are a professional artist, then success or failure is another matter. You have to show value in the framework of the profession or world where you are operating, which is much more demanding. You can’t just like your own work, you have to be innovative enough to show real individuality and uniqueness. Now you are being judged. Success is determined by a whole set of rules and opinions that you have to navigate through. I’m investigating getting some of my photos into local galleries, so now I am upping the ante and entering that world. It’s been very encouraging so far. My lack of gallery experience is my biggest detriment, as I was told by the Administrative Assistant of Creative Arts at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She said of my submission to the MN Arts Exhibition Program this year was that the committee really liked my work, but simply wanted to see more experience in exhibiting, and she provided me with some leads, and encouragement to re-submit. So, that’s what I am doing.
  110. Steve, for the most part, I'd say what's happening in this thread is decent communication. For me, calling it "creativity" waters down creativity beyond recognition. Name an action you think is not creative and I bet I can find that action to some extent an authentic personal expression. All of a sudden, everything we do is creative because we're all unique individuals and every one of our actions on some level expresses something about ourselves as individuals. To me, that's life, not creativity. Creativity has to have some meaning and does not describe all human action, even all human expressive action, even all human authentic expressive action. An authentic personal expression is just that, an authentic personal expression. Creating often involves an expression of one's beliefs, thoughts, or feelings. But expression of one's beliefs, thoughts, or feelings often does not involve creation. Creativity, IMO, which involves personal authentic expression would be writing a novel, not having a discussion with peers or friends and giving personal opinions on various subjects. Writing a letter, by virtue of its being a personal authentic expression, is not necessarily a terribly creative act. "Dear Mother, Last night I cried because my girlfriend broke up with me. I was devastated, I shut my curtains and all the lights, and remained quiet in my dark room, pining away for her, all night. Love, Fred." That's an authentic personal expression and not in the least bit creative. Nor are the posts, including mine, in this thread.
  111. Steve, I don't have time this minute to respond to what you posted but I want to say the feeling is reciprocal re your responses to these threads. They make me work in turn. And best of all, you keep coming back. :)
  112. "the feeling is reciprocal"
    Hmmm ... I think I meant the reciprocal of reciprocal. I'm getting dizzy. I should have just said I get a lot out of your posts too.
  113. Steve, reading your post more closely, I am sorry that I made you get into marketing. Not sorry that you answered and it's surely exciting to be getting such good response: I was, however, thinking more about your own valuations apart from for-sale value.
    You mentioned dopamine and I can't resist posting this from Temple Grandin. You probably know who she is; if not, you can find out with a quick search. She's writing in 2005, so I don't know how valid this is, but I think the SEEKING thing goes to why a lot of people simply enjoy photography for its own sake:
    [note that the ALL CAPS are in the original: blame them on Grandin]
    We know that curiosity/interest/anticipation, or SEEKING, is a postive emotion from a field of research [she then describes ESB].
    ... Researchers used to think that this circuit was the brain's pleasure center. Sometimes they called it the reward center. The main neurotransmitter associated with the SEEKING circuit is dopamine, so they thought dopamine was the "pleasure" chemical. That's what I was taught in college. [skipping past historical misconceptions of dopamine]
    Researchers assumed people develop addictions to drugs because drugs make you feel good, so dopamine must be the feel-good chemical in the brain.
    But now researchers see things differently. We have a lot of evidence that the reason a drug like cocaine feels good is that it's intensely stimulating to the SEEKING system in the brain, not to any pleasure center. What the self-stimulating [to exhaustion] rats were stimulating was their curiosity/interest/anticipation circuits. That's what feels good: being excited about things and intensely interested in what's going on — being what people used to call "high on life"!
    There are three different lines of evidence for this new interpretation. [skipping the first two]
    The third is the clincher. This part of the brain starts firing when the animal sees a sign that food might be nearby but stops firing when the animal sees the actual food itself. The SEEKING circuit fires during the search for food, not during the final locating or eating of the food. It's the search that feels so good.​
    On another topic (thinking about your daughter) play and games are something I've thought (and read) a lot about and may get into tomorrow. It's an interesting bridge area to (but not of, IMO) creativity that we can argue about.
  114. Fred, you quote a part of one of my sentences which ends in a comma, which you purposely left out, and then you ignore the context that is also inherent in both it and the other two parts. I was referring to the nature of homo sapiens and their evolution and their natural creative nature (maybe not to MOMA standards but that is not the point) related to their cognition and not uniquely to the photographer, although it wouldn't exclude the latter.
    Julie, "leaving the room" is just a cop out, when one can instead use his or her mind to conceive and create. It may occasionally be a manner to turn the page and reposition the thinker, but that seems to be all you are saying in your response, without following it up with what leaving the room means to you.
    The discussion is loosing substance, in large part because the responses to ideas offered are deflected and not seriously discussed, more often than not being met with simple one-liners that seek to dismiss and only create more questions than they resolve. I wonder if that climate of discussion may be the reason why very few have participated over these numerous last pages. Is there another?
  115. Jack,
    If I understand your question correctly, you were referring to stepping away from conventional beliefs and experiences to let our inner world project itself onto our artistic works. You were asking about anecdotes and examples to understand the process of doing so.
    Honestly, there hasn't been many instances in my life so far, that I have been able to do so, use a camera without the extra baggages coming in the way. The composition has to be this and that, the theme should be of interest to the general audience, also getting carried away by the hype of touristy places. All these typically lead to stereotypical works in my case. It has been an eye opening process for me so far.
    I will refer to two examples, where I wasn't planning on shooting anything, but just ended up firing the camera anyhow.
    This was taken on an idle afternoon. The whole house was quiet, for my wife and daughter had just gone out. My daughter was drawing on the table and she had left whatever she was doing. I was feeling a sense of loneliness, and somehow the toy and the leftover crayons on the table created a picture in my mind. Every block in the photo is in the right place except the child. Yet, you can very much feel her presence by looking at the scene. I think I wanted to get away from my inner loneliness and instead of projecting my inner world, I in fact projected the opposite of it in the photo.
    This second one was taken at a tourist location when I was all prepared with camera gear for a day's work. Unfortunately, due to traffic jam and all that, the day didn't pan out as expected. We packed our day with too much ambitious plans, and as a result we could not make it to most of the attraction points. Instead, we spent many hours waiting in traffic. By the time I took this picture, I was completely disinterested in shooting anything substantial or monumental. Instead I was looking for the unsubstantial, the underdogs. At that time, I noticed the light bulb and the mountain in the backdrop. I was more interested in the tiny light bulb than the mountain, and included the mountain in the frame as sort of a teaser (the light bulb challenging the mountain). Also read the interesting comment by Fred. I can clearly see this photo projecting my inner mind, intending to ignore/mock the grandiose whose pursuit had wasted my time. Instead I embraced the insignificant light bulb -:)
  116. To my eye and ear (Supriyo, this is not meant as criticism) the two pictures are like a dancer who always insists on leading the dance. Compare to Jack's OP photo: to my eye, in that case, Jack let the picture lead the dance. He saw that stuff and surrendered himself to its dance. The bits and pieces of stuff and the light and shadow lead and Jack lets himself be led. If you think that's easier than leading, I think you're wrong; the leader knows where he/she/it is going or is about. The follower has to find the dance on the fly as he's dancing without any pre-given orienting frame or reason.
    Cigarette at a falling/rising angle. Three pebble dots within the shadow. Plunging or erupting bumper lines, lower right. 3 2 . Penis/vagina shadow mouth. Pointy rising shadow left; round, voluptuous curve right.
    Now dance.
    [side note: The shadow indent reminds me (here, I'm trying to lead the dance) of the film 127 Hours which is the true story of a young man who fell into a crevasse along with and under an enormous boulder. The place he fell looked very much like that shadow shape. The man cut off his own leg in order to escape -- extraordinary innovation, but not creativity, IMO.]
  117. Kafka meant not physically, literally leaving the room. That's not what I meant.
  118. Without the element of the mountain the role the lightbulb plays in the image changes dramatically. Both mountain and lightbulb seem as equally important in the picture as interrelated elements that the photographer wants me to consider.​

    Its true, Phil, both the light bulb and mountain are equally important to form the picture. I just felt the light bulb was more important to me than the mountain and the mountain is there to highlight the significance of the light bulb. Without the mountain, that significance would be lost.
    But isn't that exactly what a title like Lightbulb and mountain is doing, telling the viewer to look for and see something in the image that should be obvious too without its title. By including that title, it's as if you were not trusting the viewer ( and photograph ) to come to the same reading that was already pointed to effectively enough by you photographically.​

    I put the title mainly because of practical reasons, like easiness of locating or referring to a photo. I wanted the title to be as unintrusive as possible, by just stating redundantly what is already shown in the photo. I didn't want to hint any relationship between the two objects (mountain and light bulb) and left it to the viewers. My goal was to make sure, the viewers do not get biased by any additional information offered by the title.
  119. Supriyo -
    Yeah, I think you kind of understand what I was after though I certainly didn't express it well in my opening
    statement on this thread. "Projection" is not exactly what I mean though that is certainly a common element
    in how we perceive the world. We develop a mental picture of the world and then subconsciously selectively
    interpret the world to fit our judgements, pre-formed conceptions and assigned categories. This is the usual
    state of affairs for humans, I think, and what I described earlier as a basic drive for homeostasis and at least
    the illusion of stability. The result of that is that most of the time we hold a more or less set image and
    interpretation of things. Occasionally, for one reason or another that sense of certainty slips and it feels like
    we have awakened from a dream. I find it a very odd feeling (and not always a comfortable one) to find
    myself suddenly strangely aware of myself and quite outside my usual reactive state, in a place of simple observation
    without thought. I'm not talking about introspection or fresh conclusions (though that may come later) but
    just an awareness of the bare fact that I exist in my surroundings. These times don't last long but while they do, the world is somehow
    transformed and a different set of possibilities exist. It's when we briefly slide from our usual programmed
    state of being that hidden sides of the world normally excluded from our awareness show themselves. As
    much as there is an imperative to create a known world we can deal with there is a corresponding urge to a
    greater or lesser extent, at least in some people, to escape the internal map that regulates our course and
    sail into uncharted water. I sometimes think we are chained and imprisoned by our certainties. Perhaps the melancholy
    you felt on that particular afternoon was the trigger that caused a small shift in your usual perception which was then captured for
    all of us in your photo of the table with its crayons, drawing and teddy bear, a picture that touched many of
    in a strangely personal way. Anyway, thanks for sharing the pictures and the story of their creations. It's what
    I was hoping for when I started this thread.They make me wonder and that's always a good thing.
  120. To my eye and ear (Supriyo, this is not meant as criticism) the two pictures are like a dancer who always insists on leading the dance. Compare to Jack's OP photo: to my eye, in that case, Jack let the picture lead the dance. He saw that stuff and surrendered himself to its dance. The bits and pieces of stuff and the light and shadow lead and Jack lets himself be led. If you think that's easier than leading, I think you're wrong; the leader knows where he/she/it is going or is about. The follower has to find the dance on the fly as he's dancing without any pre-given orienting frame or reason.​

    I agree, Julie, and that's Jack's magic. Its there in many of Jack's other images as well, even when the objects are more real/tangible than shadows. Take a look at the recent trashcan series for instance. I agree with you, it is quite challenging not to dominate, impose upon the viewer, specially when you are using a structured composition with elements that YOU decided to include in certain configuration. I decided to refer to these two shots because they reflect my inner mind at those moments in a spontaneous manner.
    [side note: The shadow indent reminds me (here, I'm trying to lead the dance) of the film 127 Hours which is the true story of a young man who fell into a crevasse along with and under an enormous boulder. The place he fell looked very much like that shadow shape. The man cut off his own leg in order to escape -- extraordinary innovation, but not creativity, IMO.]​
    IMO (at least in the context in which we are talking), innovation applies when there is a definitive, rigid end goal in mind. Innovation is the (elegant) means to get there. Creativity on the other hand questions/mutates/transforms even the end goal if necessary.
  121. Jack wrote: "As much as there is an imperative to create a known world we can deal with there is a corresponding urge to a greater or lesser extent, at least in some people, to escape the internal map that regulates our course and sail into uncharted water."
    I think those are both from or caused by your inner world, not free of it. Same thing, different state of (dis)satisfaction. Moving to a new house, not leaving it. You're still leading.
  122. “Awareness is boundless and infinitely available in every moment no matter what you’re doing. So if the doing is in some sense coming out of being, out of awareness. . .”
    “You can’t think your way to what the outcome of this will be and then try to get there because the irony is you’re already here . . . you’re always here, there is no there.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
    What I love about Kabat-Zinn’s comments here, is that in every moment there is literally infinite “availability.” Maybe creativity is about being open to letting some of that infinity in through the crack in the door of our limited perspective (consciousness). That seems to be true for me. Sometimes the fresh idea will just burst in unannounced, other times I have to quiet my internal chatter enough to hear the soft whisper until it becomes loud enough to grasp.
    I’m not sure where this fits into the discussion involving an “internal map” and escaping it. Maybe that’s just an illusion: “. . . you’re always here, there is no there.”
  123. Steve, to my ear, those quotes are just too broad.
    If you've seen photographer Edward Burtynsky's documentary, Manufactured Landscapes, it opens with a very long scene in a Chinese electronics factory. The only sounds are the small rustle of the workers and the loud buzz of thousands of fluorescent overhead lights. Hundreds of workers in long neat rows (the building seems to be the size of a football field) are bent over their workbenches in intense concentration as they assemble some small portion of a widget over and over and over again. Your quotes, as well as the previous descriptions of 'flow' seem to me to apply to these workers as much as to someone making pictures.
    Contrast or compare that to the following descriptions of the newer work of the photographer Guy Tillim. Earlier in his career, he was an outstanding photojournalist but he has moved away from that. This is Lyle Rexer writing about Tillim:
    ... Tillim wanted to use his camera to understand and evoke these places he did not know, but he also wanted to avoid prescribing what viewers ought to think or feel. In a sense, he wanted to put them in his place. "Compositional drama and the picturesque I tried to avoid." he adds. So, how to proceed? "A political position would be to include ‘ugly’ elements in a beautiful scene, to disrupt our photo myth making. But this is unacceptable. It’s exchanging one form of projection for another," he adds.
    ... "I had no agenda," he says, "I just walked until I got tired or the sun went down, whichever came first. I wanted to avoid most images in my head, I was bored by them."
    ... for the artist, this exploration of second nature represents not a retreat from photojournalism but a more rigorous approach to looking. "I see the exercise as an attempt to learn my craft," says Tillim. "Not to turn away from an expectation of photography, but to embrace its possibilities. Not really to get out from under the responsibility of being a ‘witness,’ but to become a reliable one."​
    Here is how Els Barents describes Tillim's work:
    ... [Tillim] says that the sense of having been physically present at a particular spot appeals more to his consciousness than the sum of all actions carried out in order to arrive there — to such a degree, in fact, that he roughly discerns those moments of being and seeing, joined in the creation of a photograph, as a pattern of déjà vu experiences. The above statetment is an unmistakable sample of Tillim's DNA as a photographer, and explains why he sees no need for hierarchy aming the places and subjects that he photographs. From the photographer's point of vivew, the best photographs are not necessarily those that involve a topical or historically noteworthy theme.​
  124. Hello Jack: I don't usually participate in this Forum, until you so kindly informed me thus. I was browsing through a book I recently bought, a collection of 50 great photographers with some tips. It was just an impulse for what says on the back cover. "Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs" - by Henry Carroll (Copyright 2014, ISBN 978-1-78067-335-6). Some basic things, some not. Just to keep abreast of what is going on.
    Anyway....I though that one of the pages might contribute to some discussions, but especially for the pundit and purist members of PN who want to find every or any flaw in someone's submission for critique or rating. In order to respect the authors (book and photographer). The text and image that I would like to attach herewith should be self explanatory (but I am unable to do so as the space does not allow this function) , and with the usual respect and humbleness, I submit this to you as the Moderator of the Forum, if it contributes in any way or form. I will therefore send them under separate e-mail.
    With my usual best regards. Daniel.
  125. Here is the second photo not attached in the previous thread.
  126. So sorry, my apologies. The previous was not the correct file. Here is the "actual" right page of said book.
  127. Daniel, in my opinion, as long as one is thinking in terms of leaving or breaking rules, one is still playing the (existing) game (one's given inner world). Breaking the rules only makes sense if you are playing that game. Lines and balls and whatever a rule refers to only matter while you're playing that game; you can't break those rules if you're not in that game (I repeat myself ... ). So a picture that is seen as "breaking all the rules" is simply a picture of broken rules; it's defined by its game, it doesn't escape it (I'm not convinced that breaking rules was part of Brandt's motivation, in any case).
    After the initial excitement at it's oddness wore off, William Carlos Williams's poem:
    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white
    ... was described by one critic as "just silly." Is it? In terms of the "To be or not to be" game, it is. Think about the word "depends" (and leave out adult diapers, please). It's that word that needs pondering, IMO, because red wheelbarrows aren't usually in your 'inner world.' To many viewers, not much 'depends,' either, on a cigarette butt and car bumper, as in the OP photo.
  128. Inner world, to me, means all of our becauses.
  129. When you know what you are seeing (i.e. "knowledge of and about"), then your mind cuts like a blade, "this, this, this" and to you its sense is clear. But if you don't know what it is that you are seeing, if it is an alien experience that you don't have "knowledge of and about" your mind spreads, pools, fingers, tastes ... There is one "this" with a "?" The whole thing is some thing, but what?
  130. I think the problem here is that we are trying to communicate with a language that simply isn’t adequate for the job: “it’s like talking about quantum theory in a language of levers and weights.” (Jay Haley describing the hypnosis work of Milton Erickson). All the metaphors we are using: conscious, unconscious, inner, outer, game, awareness, etc., are just too crude, IMO. We all experience something when we are doing our photography, it’s just difficult to describe it. Curiously my own experience of what happens when I photograph matches some of the descriptions of the MRI brain researchers looking at brain activity of rappers and jazz musicians when they are improvising. From the discussion of the MRI study:
    “That is, creative intuition may operate when an attenuated DLPFC no longer regulates the contents of consciousness, allowing unfiltered, unconscious, or random thoughts and sensations to emerge. Therefore, rather than operating in accordance with conscious strategies and expectations, musical improvisation may be associated with behaviors that conform to rules implemented by the MPFC outside of conscious awareness.”​
    Whew! In other words, for me, when I am being creative, I notice a decreased awareness of my own thoughts and feelings, and, a heightened sense of readiness, a feeling (if you will) of waiting, then, boom, “that’s it, take it.” When I am photographing a person as in a portrait, my shutter finger literally has a mind of its own—it just knows when to push the shutter even before my conscious mind is aware of that being the best moment. I think that’s like jazz improvisation too, you just trust your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it. Is this “playing the game” or is it outside the game? Or does it matter what you call it?
  131. "Whew! In other words, for me, when I am being creative, I notice a decreased awareness of my own thoughts and
    feelings, and, a heightened sense of readiness, a feeling (if you will) of waiting, then, boom, “that’s it, take it.” When I am
    photographing a person as in a portrait, my shutter finger literally has a mind of its own—it just knows when to push the
    shutter even before my conscious mind is aware of that being the best moment. I think that’s like jazz improvisation too,
    you just trust your unconscious, or whatever you want to call it. Is this “playing the game” or is it outside the game? Or
    does it matter what you call it?"

    I feel I am reading THE process of making art, not fake art or pretentious art, but genuine art. The finger pressing the
    shutter, or the hand moving across the canvas, or the fingers gliding over the piano before the conscious brain knows it. I
    always thought this is how real art is made. I can't think of any other way, any other recipe would produce commercial
    posters or Hollywood flicks IMO. Yet, when you analyze such genuine art, you will find many patterns that seem like the
    artists were consciously following conservative rules including rule of thirds, golden ratio etc. these are not any rules
    made by some art grammatician, they are there because they work and are deeply connected to how we perceive
    aesthetics. Also even if we create art spontaneously, our past experience still plays a role, whether you want it or not. And
    if you try to brush off that past experience, the process will involve some consciousness on your part (and still you will fail
    most times), so either way you ARE playing the game.

    Have you ever stood at Grand Canyon during sunrise and decide to photograph a piece of paper on the ground that a
    tourist left behind? I know I haven't been able to, so far. It's hard to win over temptation to bring out the other side.
  132. "It's not so much the knowledge of a thing, it's the knowledge of a sensation that we are unique in having when looking at
    our own photographs. "

    That's probably very true. On the other hand, it is this personal sensation that sometimes masks any other aspect of
    the photo that may be evident to other viewers. I must confess, sometimes I have gained new perspectives from critics that
    have modified my view and understanding of some of my images. How our own sensation from being there contrasts with someone else's from viewing solely the finished image can teach us a lot about our photos. I think it is this combination of personal feeling and
    other's perceptions that yields the best out of one's photographic journey.
  133. Steve wrote: "Whew! In other words, for me, when I am being creative, I notice a decreased awareness of my own thoughts and feelings, and, a heightened sense of readiness, a feeling (if you will) of waiting, then, boom, “that’s it, take it."
    In response to which, Supriyo wrote: "I feel I am reading THE process of making art, not fake art or pretentious art, but genuine art."
    Hmmm ... I feel like I am reading THE process of how I buy stuff on Amazon.
  134. Also, to repeat what was pointed out earlier in this thread, Steve's MRI study is not science: it is illustration in support of belief.
    It shows that when something is inserted into the MRI, the brain reacts in some way. That the "something" that is inserted is "creativity" is a matter of belief. The assertion that the recordings of the brain are "creativity" is an attempt to give a scientific gloss to what is not science. Note that I am not saying that Steve is "wrong" in his claim; rather I am saying that it's about his personal belief, for which belief I have every respect and don't wish to devalue.
  135. Why depend on other's perceptions?​
    Why not?

    Why spin it as a dependency rather than as a desired relationship, perhaps of empathy or something similar?

    What does "effectively communicate" mean if you don't have a sense of other's perceptions in mind? Communicating only with oneself? That would not be enough for me.
  136. I always thought this is how real art is made. I can't think of any other way, any other recipe would produce commercial posters or Hollywood flicks IMO.​
    There is no recipe!

    I'd be happy to produce photos at the artistic level of many great Hollywood flicks.
    Yet, when you analyze such genuine art, you will find many patterns that seem like the artists were consciously following conservative rules including rule of thirds, golden ratio etc.​
    That's because the process and the art are something very different from photographers' own descriptions of them. I take all these descriptions of "how I work" with a grain of salt. I often see something very different in the work than what's described as process by the photographer. The work often tells the more interesting and genuine story. I think just as photos often wind up following already-established grammars and vocabularies, descriptions of internal process do so as well.
  137. Having a sense of other's perceptions doesn't mean that you have to consider those perceptions into your own creative process as the only alternative or means to look at your work more objectively and through multiple perspectives.​
    Supriyo didn't suggest having a sense of others' perceptions was the only means to look at his work more objectively. IMO, he was suggesting it was part of his process.

    I think of the creative process as a dialogue of many sorts, with other artists, with history, with potential viewers, etc., and I'm not talking about discussions about one's work, I'm talking about the process itself.

    I understand that for many it feels like an internal process (whether it is or not), a solo endeavor. For me, it does not feel that way (whether it is or not).
  138. Doing our photography involves much more than the act of taking pictures. The act itself isn't particularly meaningful in terms of expression and can be as casual or uninvolved as driving to the destination we want to get to.​
    Yes, and discussion with others about our work can be part of the process as well.
  139. I think that a lot of good art photography is intended to put the viewer a state of being rather than communicate some thing. For example, a visual equivalent of Wallace Stevens's The Snow Man:
    One must have a mind of winter
    To regard the frost and the boughs
    Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
    [ ... ]
    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.​
    There is also good work meant for contemplation rather than communication:
    How many rocks are there lying in the Ryoanji garden? How was the order found that makes the arrangement a "cipher of transcendence" that has been valid for centuries? Were the boulders repeatedly moved across the space before they found their definitive position? Is the arrangement the result of a long process brought about by calculation? Did it develop as if by chance on one day? — Corrina Thierolf
    And sometimes one is just sketching. Taking visual notes, or test driving an idea.
  140. Steve's MRI study is not science: it is illustration in support of belief.​

    Julie, a lot of science is done that way.
    ... what is not science.​

    That could also be your belief.

    The brain commands the hands to move in a way to create something. Whether a particular work is creative or not depends on the brain it is coming from. The brain is made of brain cells which work following the laws of science. How is this not science?
  141. I understand, there were some contradiction and miscommunication in what I wrote last night (Friday night effect may be). What I meant to say is, no matter how many rules are learned or structures followed, at the precise moment of art creation, the spontaneous synergy of thoughts and reflexes play the central role. IMO, conscious planning takes the backstage at that time although such planning is absolutely necessary to put the photographer in the center of the scene. So Fred, yes there is no recipe for genuine art. Thats what I intended to say. Following a step by step recipe would be similar to creating ordinary everyday commercial Hollywood flicks (not great Hollywood flicks, sorry for the miscommunication), or cover photos in glamor magazines. I am speaking in statistical terms. Of course great art can be made in glamor and fashion photography.
    That's because the process and the art are something very different from photographers' own descriptions of them. I take all these descriptions of "how I work" with a grain of salt. I often see something very different in the work than what's described as process by the photographer. The work often tells the more interesting and genuine story. I think just as photos often wind up following already-established grammars and vocabularies, descriptions of internal process do so as well.​

    Thanks for expanding on that. I think (I may be wrong) the rules and patterns evident in a good artwork cannot be properly backtracked and described as a step by step process even by the photographer. Again its my take, that the spontaneous synergy and reflexes that are at work during the shutter release are part of the reason why. I have heard art teachers say to their students, "you did everything right, but there's no life in the picture".

    That doesn't mean we shouldn't be discussing our processes and motivations. I feel the description of what the photographer thinks as his modus operandi can also be insightful.
  142. There is also good work meant for contemplation rather than communication:​

    I totally agree with you. Often the feeling from an artwork is a resonance of empathy or the triggering of a thought or question, at least for me. Not really communication of a coded message. However it also depends on how relaxed are you in defining something as communication. Many times, communication works via resonance. Good teachers teach their students not via lectures, but by raising questions. Thats communication of knowledge, isn't it?
  143. And how do you put the viewer in a state of being other than through the communication of something to the viewer? It shouldn't need explaining that what I mean with communication in the context of art is the conveying of an idea from one source ( the artist through the work ) to another ( the viewer ) and not an exchange of information between two sources.​
    That puts a smile in my face.
  144. I'm talking about the creative process and not on having a discussion about one's work in which case it's more a form of dialogue.​

    Phil, to me these two (creative process and discussion about the work) are intertwined. One feeds into the other and shapes my future perception. And considering others' views is not compulsory for me. For instance, there are works of mine that I thought as great, but others did not find so. When I look at those works with the other feedbacks in mind, sometimes it doesn't change my perception of them, but other times they do.
  145. Julie,
    As an addendum, it is my opinion that the universe is a combination of the effect of scientific laws (observation) and the
    projection of those observations in the conscious mind (art). Why leave out the science part of it when discussing art?
    How does that help to expand our understanding of the creative process.
  146. Supriyo, if it can't be measured, it's not science. If you point to the MRI as a measurement, you get into affirming the consequent.
    Phil, I don't think providing someone the conditions to be able to experience a state is communication. It's creating an opportunity; providing admission.
    Edited to add, nowhere did I advocate leaving out (good) science.
  147. Julie, in the beginning you said, if it can't be measured it's not science. I suppose you mean, creativity cannot be
    measured, so its futile to study it scientifically (correct me if wrong). That in itself shows that you are biased in your belief
    that this subject is beyond the reach of science. So even if you didn't directly advocate leaving out science, it comes to
    that. If you think something is beyond the reach of science, no matter how good the science is, it doesn't help.

    I haven't read the MRI article, so can't comment on that. Usually such works involve a lot of verification through multiple
    sources and previous work before a conclusion is reached, to avoid situations like 'affirming the consequent'. I have a
    feeling that there are more back and forth evidences than what Steve provided here which is just a snippet. I believe you
    have the ability to realize that, yet you jumped on it to denounce the study as soon as it was mentioned. This in itself
    shows that you are probably acting out of some sort of an inner belief than logic. Correct me if I am wrong.

    BTW, creativity can be measured, if you consider us to be the measuring instruments.
  148. "Phil, I don't think providing someone the conditions to be able to experience a state is communication. It's creating an
    opportunity; providing admission."

    One of Watzlawick's axioms: One cannot not communicate.
  149. "If you think something is beyond the reach of science, no matter how good the science is, it doesn't help." To the contrary, I am arguing that it what has been presented as science is not science.
    And I would appreciate it if you would stop the personal attacks. Thanks.
  150. "To the contrary, I am arguing that it what has been presented as science is not science."

    And I am saying you don't have enough clout to make such definitive statements, based on what Steve provided. You can
    express doubts though, or ask for more information.

    I am not saying you are an idiot, or calling you names. That's personal attack. Countering ones personal ideas or opinions
    cannot be personal attack, as long as there is a counter argument.

    Could you kindly point out to me which part of my comment was personal attack to you.
  151. We know three things about intelligence. One, it's diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain, as we heard yesterday from a number of presentations, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn't divided into compartments. In fact, creativity — which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. Ken Robinson 2006 TED talk​
    I would argue that creativity, like intelligence, paraphrasing Ken Robinson’s quote: is expressed through “the world in all the ways that we experience it. One, (creativity) is diverse. We (create) visually, we (create) in sound, we (create) kinesthetically. We (create) in abstract terms, we (create) in movement. Secondly, (creativity) is dynamic. “In fact, creativity — which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.”
    I think this explains why we often come from so many different points of view here. We, as individuals can only experience our creativity from our own unique perspective. When we attempt to describe our own process, I also believe, like I said above with another quote: ““it’s like talking about quantum theory in a language of levers and weights.” Whether we identify thinking, feeling, awareness, lack of awareness, intention, memory, whatever, we are attempting to use crude metaphors for something that is far more sophisticated.
    The MRI studies of jazz improvisation and rappers are attempts to see what the brain is doing during these activities. Improvisation is only one type of creative activity, so let’s not get bent out of shape about their study! I get the feeling a lot of folks don’t feel like they are improvising when they are producing their photos, so again, we each have our own unique experience and the language we have to describe it often falls short.
  152. You can map the brain with an MRI even to see where in a musician's head improvisation takes place, but it is a map that will not tell anyone where to go.
    So what's the use of the map? Or how would one use this map and for what purpose except for maybe brain surgery and the development of drugs?
  153. On creativity, for a neurologist 'creativity' might make itself evident through the form of a brainscan and scientific data etc,...But scientific data on creativity such as brainscans are of little relevance to the artist. For the artist creativity means and becomes evident by working with the materials and by working within or outside the confines of the medium.​

    Phil, if you read just the abstract of the linked article, the conclusion of that article is, creative improvisation may be (Julie, note the word may be) governed by "internally motivated, stimulus-independent behaviors <which> unfold in the absence of central processes that typically mediate self-monitoring and conscious volitional control of ongoing performance." I think the reason Steve brought it up because he finds an agreement between how he sees his creative process to unfold and the conclusion of that study. I can only imagine that the results from a scientific study like that could help to reinforce one's understanding of the creative process. Increased awareness of the mind and thought process can only be beneficial to our overall existence. Whether that makes one a better artist or not is only to be seen, but no harm in considering.

    Although I am too ignorant to advocate the MRI study, I too feel there is a lack of conscious planning and more of spontaneous reflexes during a creative process. That goes directly in line with Jack's OP about the inner world and its influence.
  154. Steve, this:
    Prior to arrival for the scan session, all subjects received sheet music of a jazz melody (“Magnetism”, twelve-bar blues form) that was composed by one of the authors (C.J.L) to ensure novelty for the subjects (Fig.1, lower left). The subjects memorized this melody prior to scanning, and demonstrated proficiency in playing the melody from memory prior to scanning. During scanning, a pre-recorded jazz rhythm section provided musical accompaniment. In particular, the pre-recorded music was a 12 bar blues in medium tempo (around 100 beats per minute). Two repetitions of the underlying chord progression (or “choruses”) were played in each block. During blocks, subjects were cued randomly to either play either the memorized melody (Jazz-Ctrl) or to improvise using the underlying chord progression of the novel composition (Jazz-Improv) as the basis for invention (Fig.1, lower right). Subjects were given relative freedom during the musical improvisation blocks, with the only instruction being that the musical style of the melody and the improvisation should be consistent with one another; this instruction was intended to minimize wide variations in number of notes played, rhythmic complexity, or stylistic approach that could have been possible in an entirely unconstrained environment.​
    ... is not 'creativity' IMO. To my mind (I know you disagree) it's moving the furniture around. It is musicians playing with and without a score, and that is interesting in its own right (at least to me). It is scientifically appropriate to say that musician's playing with a score generate one MRI and those playing without generate such and such differences. And interpretation, appropriately designated as speculation, from those MRI is scientifically appropriate.
    What is never clear is how much the musicians, or artists or photographers or writers, when asked to "be creative" simply act like they're being creative. Most people know what good music, photographs, writing looks like and most people know what improvisation looks like. I can act like I'm improvising in all of those activities, but I would simply be patching together my idea of what such an improvisation 'looks like.' Moving the furniture around.
  155. Julie, it strikes me that your willingness—based on what you describe as your “belief” (25 Jan 2017 5:55pm)—to deny the validity of Steve’s and my personal experiences with improvisation is itself a potent example of the extent to which a person can project their interior world onto the canvas of the world at large.
  156. Following along what I think is Phil's eminently reasonable approach to creativity, I offer these thoughts from Marc McGuiness on the subject. I found them this morning while googling around about creativity . . .
    "Most stories about creativity are stories about the 1%. We hear about the moment of inspiration—Archimedes leaping from his bath, Coleridge hallucinating “Kubla Khan” in an opium reverie. We don’t hear so much about the years of perspiration—Archimedes plugging away at failed experiments, Coleridge learning his craft by writing notebooks full of dull poetry.

    "Most of us don’t like to think about the labor involved in creativity. It takes away the glamour and the magic. But real creators know different. They know that creative work isn’t particularly glamorous. It requires discipline, routine, and a nitpicky attention to detail. But they also know that none of that takes away the magic. We often talk about “the creative process,” but it’s really several interlocking processes. The magic happens at the point where they intersect."
    My own creativity is at play in every rejected photo I've taken (which number far greater than the keepers). It's at play every time I struggle in thinking about solving various problems involved with backlighting, or using flash, or getting high contrast results that aren't harsh and over-the-top . . . or collaborating with one of my human subjects to make a photo that shows genuine character. If I limited my sense of creativity to the unthinking moment of snapping a shutter button, I wouldn't pursue creativity because it would have no meaning for me. Creativity is a holistic endeavor for me, a multi-faceted series of activities where I get to use as many of my faculties as I can successfully use in the process.
  157. Leslie wrote: " ... is itself a potent example of the extent to which a person can project their interior world ... '
    Quick! I'll get an MRI and you can read the anti-creativity wavelengths in a very scientific way.
  158. My point is mainly that ultimately creativity in terms of creating art comes down to discipline and to doing the work ( even if you don't want to do the work for whatever reason ) and doing the work isn't some metaphorical floating around lost in thoughts affair that can be put on or off at will.​

    I was addressing your question regarding the potential use of things like the MRI study to anyone other than the neurologists. Of course I agree with you on the aspects like discipline and hands on practice, and there isn't much alternative to those. However inner understanding of our creative process is important too, and I am willing to incorporate anything that forwards that understanding, including clinical studies of the brain.
  159. ... some metaphorical floating around lost in thoughts affair that can be put on or off at will.​

    Hey, that's cool! I like to metaphorically float around lost in my thoughts, while someone else does the hard work for me. Add to that some euphoric highs with potential out of body experiences as well.
  160. @For the artist creativity means and becomes evident by working with the materials and by working within or outside the confines of the medium."Phil
    Conundrum of words...what are you communicating other than banality? Hey, some of us read these posts
    @Increased awareness of the mind and thought process can only be beneficial to our overall existence." Phil.
    Physical exercise is good for the soul and mind and leads to deeper Zen....and? Words for the sake of creating words...Phil,photos would be a lot more interesting.
    "How much do we project our interior world on the canvas of the world at large? "Jack.
    Yes, we do Jack. Look at the photos folk you a good feel for them...photographs have their own language and if you listen they will tell you....a story of truths.
  161. But then you need to read the language of photography...
  162. Nope...Im not Gods gift. Just Illustrating my thoughts....with photographs.
  163. My own creativity is at play in every rejected photo I've taken (which number far greater than the keepers). It's at play every time I struggle in thinking about solving various problems involved with backlighting, or using flash, or getting high contrast results that aren't harsh and over-the-top . . . or collaborating with one of my human subjects to make a photo that shows genuine character. If I limited my sense of creativity to the unthinking moment of snapping a shutter button, I wouldn't pursue creativity because it would have no meaning for me. Creativity is a holistic endeavor for me, a multi-faceted series of activities where I get to use as many of my faculties as I can successfully use in the process.​
    Fred, I appreciate what you are saying and thank you for sharing your working process with us. Everything that I read in these forums are helpful and that includes your description, the scientific (fallacious?) MRI studies, Julie's vehement opposition to any attempt of biochemical characterization of creativity. You are describing a tedious experience ridden journey with many creative periods that ends up in a few epiphanies or pinnacles of creativity in a person's life. Again I am not advocating those MRI studies, but I think they were trying to record such periods of creativity in their MRI scans. May be they are hovering in the periphery without being able to penetrate the core of understanding, but I think one day they might. Anyway I have experienced special moments in my life where spontaneity and reflexes seem to have taken the centerstage and certain photos that resulted from those moments were very different from everything else in the same series. The implicit assumption here is, those moments are creative moments, although I agree thats a matter of belief.
  164. Eyes that see, eyes that are blind.
  165. "If I limited my sense of creativity to the unthinking moment of snapping a shutter button, I wouldn't pursue creativity because it would have no meaning for me "Fred.
    We really don't have unthinking moments. An Artist/Photographer is always thinking consciously or otherwise.....we are not tourist and even those think about their photography.
  166. When you look at the photographs you are also looking at the photographer.
    The photographs tell all.

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