Creative Photography a Meditation
This is a very simple creative photography exercise that is a meditation. The biggest problem with working visually is the massive influx of data that our brains are required to process just to keep up. Of course much of this attack is intentional, is to keep us off balance, to make us more susceptible to buying crap that we don’t need. As human beings, let alone photographers, we need something to counteract this onslaught.
This creative photography meditation attempts to redress the balance, to stop the influx, even if just for a couple of hours and to focus in on one image, to go deeper rather than just allow our eyes and brain to skate on over to the next shiny image object.
The photograph above is a very ordinary but simple image that is the starting point for this mini project. It was shot at the highest possible resolution. It is compositionally and tonally very simple and the color palette is very limited. I think that this is important as it sets the stage for the next part of the project which is all about simplicity. For some it may work better with an initially complex image. I am certainly not writing that possibility off.
The idea here was to take this main image and create several other images from it. In doing so the elements that made the image recognizable are rendered either less important or not important at all. By changing the framing and the scale the context was stripped away or at least partially stripped away. The image was abstracted. The cat shape is no longer important as a cat shape but rather just as a line, a boundary.
This is also minimalist as it is a reductionist process, stripping away at least 90% of the visual data in each case. There is a saying in photography that if something doesn’t add to an image it detracts. In other words there is no neutral.
The wood is obviously still wood but it is less obviously a wooden floor in a home. If you were to see most of these cropped versions on their own, without the photo that they were extracted from, you probably would not think much about wooden floors, cats and shadows cast. You attention would be drawn to line, tone and other compositional elements.
In other words you’d be viewing the images on their own merits and not as illustrations of something else.
This process is about not rushing. If it takes an hour or a day to shoot the original image that is fine. When working on the edits an open ended schedule is required. The moment that you set yourself a deadline, however soft, the point of the exercise is lost.
This is all about letting the answers come, of all but removing the self, more specifically the ego, from the process. The ego will want victory, i.e. the image likely to generate the most favorable reaction from others. This is not about that, this is about finding the right image.
Some of my best pictures have been inspired by the cropped images from this type of exercise. By that I mean that I’ve rephotographed the low resolution crop at normal resolution and possibly tweaked things just a little. The funny thing is that this really does have to be an add on, if it happens great, if not that is also great. The show stopping poster sized print cannot be the objective of this creative photography meditation otherwise the ego has won and you, the photographer, have lost.
Do you have any techniques for getting back on track creatively?