I’m still thinking about the false premise “I’m not creative.” For those who believe creativity means doing something unique, so new and different that it feels like we’ve never seen or heard it before, a fear that they are unable to make something truly original keeps them from owning their own creativity.
Plenty of creative people (Julia Cameron, Anne Lamott, and Elizabeth Gilbert, to name a few) argue that just by being you, anything from your mind and your hands will have some essence of originality. If you are true to yourself as you create, the thing made will show at least a little of who you are. Your fingerprints, whether metaphorical or literal, are all over your work.
The best argument I’ve seen for this in a long time is a series of intriguing ads by Canon Australia. Their video series (THE LAB) includes clever experiments related to creativity. With photography in particular, it’s easy to feel that the images aren’t original because the camera appears to do all the work. Theses videos prove otherwise.
The most powerful experiment is THE LAB: BLANK. Six photographers are sent, one at a time, into an empty studio to take photos. Everyone’s solution to this problem — what to photograph in an empty space — is different, and even when two photographers focus on the same detail (the apparently blank white space isn’t actually bare), the images they capture are different.
Other videos in the series are also worth watching. They show how the simplest props can be used to create unusual work by limiting options, that taking time to think before you act can enhance your creative experience, and that what you believe about your subject will be reflected in your work.
It’s a big time cliché because it’s true: we all see the world a little differently. If we take the time to communicate honestly what we are seeing and feeling, our work will be original, whether it’s a photo, an essay, or a painting.
Take the time to look. Then show us your world.
That’s all there is to it.