Creativity in Photography – Part 2

Sorry for the delay in publishing Creativity Pt 2, but having have my third session of chemo I have not been too well for the last three to four days.

I hope you enjoy reading it, and please try to get hold of  copies of the books annotated at the end of the article as they give a more in-depth  coverage about creativity.

– Sandy

Here I have listed five requirements that contribute to creativity:- Desire, Thought, Experimentation, Experience, Inner-conviction. They are I believe the core of creative thinking.

Let’s look at these requisites for creativity individually, for these are the driving force behind it.


It’s hard to imagine anyone being creative in any field, science, business, art, and photography without a desire to go further than anyone else has gone, to dig deeper, and come up with new insights. Creativity implies doing something new that has never been done before, and doing anything new is difficult. Are you willing to do the hard work, and do you desire to do the hard work that can lead to new or deeper ways of seeing? You can be influenced, stimulated, and inspired by others, but it is unlikely you’ll be pushed or forced into truly creative ventures by anyone other than yourself.


Are you willing to put thought into your photographs before you start on any new project, or even before you release the shutter for each new image? Have you considered the final image as you look at the scene; not just the scene in front of you and your camera, but the final photographic image you want to present to the viewer? This is akin to asking yourself how you want the photograph to look, which is the same as asking yourself what you want to say about the subject.


Experience can give you ideas and insights that you surely don’t have as a beginner. You can reach back into this trove of knowledge to help you with different or ever similar situations, and achieve new and richer outcomes. On the other hand, experience can make you lazy, and you may end up doing the same things over and over because they’ve worked well in the past.


Any time you are trying something new and different, you are experimenting. Any time you are not experimenting, probably doing the same thing repetitively. Creativity requires some experimentation.  You’ve got to get out of the rut of engaging in a routine simply because it has worked in the past, this is not being creative.

I am always questioning my own level of creativity, or lack thereof. It.s easy to lay back and work the same way you’ve worked in the past in situations that are similar to those you’ve previously encountered, knowing that the result will be successful. Sometimes that is the way to go, and trying something new and different will end in disaster, but once in a while you have to go out on a limb and try a different, experimental approach. If nothing else, this keeps your juices flowing, and it also keeps your interest level high.

The problem is most people hate failure so much that they’ll do anything to avoid it, including staying in the same rut that they consider successful, but that soon becomes boring repetition. They won’t experiment.  They’re afraid of experimentation because they’re afraid of failure. But just consider this: when you fail at a photograph, you’re probably the only person who will know it. So you may be disappointed, but at least you won’t be embarrassed.

Inner Conviction

You may be hesitant to go where you haven’t gone before. I surely was when I cautiously put my toe in the water of abstraction. This can only be overcome with an inner conviction that going there is simply OK.  You may need encouragement from others. You may be able to do it yourself. But one way or another you must have the inner conviction to move forward, even in the face of disapproval from others. You have to believe in yourself and in what you are doing. And if you feel the unusual work you’re doing has some value to it, you must pursue it.

Impediments that Prevent Creativity
Fear of Failure

To be creative, to use our imagination toward creating original photographs, we must do something new, something that we have most likely never done before. Doing something we have not done before carries with it the risk of failure. For many of us, whenever there is risk there is fear, in this case fear of failure. Fear of failure is one of the main things that can stifle our creativity It is important to understand that there is no such thing as failure. There are failed attempts. However, a failed attempt does not mean absolute failure. It only means that this one time things did not work.

Overcoming Creative Fear

In photography creative fear, is another term for fear of failure. However, it is still necessary to go out there to create photographs. Sometimes, creative fear is so powerful that it prevents the photographer even from doing that. In short, stop focusing on the negative aspects of photography. Instead focus on the positive aspects of the process.

Fear of Critique

Critique is important but there is a time and a place for it. The creative stage is definitely neither the the time or the place. Therefore, do not seek critical feedback or commentary on your work during the creative stage of the photographic process. Feedback and criticism, if you want it, this should come later. Another cause for lost creativity is the feeling that whatever you want to do has already been done before. In short, you feel as if your work is redundant and you are wasting your time. But not everything has been done before. In fact, your vision is yours and yours alone. It is best to wait until after your work is completed to ask for feedback and criticisms. (Criticism as far you are concerned, is in the case of the bad camera club judge, or inexperienced fellow club members.)

This is a heavily abridged article taken from the following books:-

  • ‘The Essence of Photography’ (Seeing and Creativity)
    Copyright Bruce Barnbaum 2015. ISBN 97893538514
  • “Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style”
    Copyright Alain Briot 2009. ISBN 9781933952222

For more in-depth reading on the subject of creativity you can get these books through the Andover Library Hampshire Library Service.

Although the purpose of this article is mainly about Creativity in Photography, it is only part of a combination of things that gel together, in the full creative process such as Inspiration, Vision, Creativity, and Personal Style, which are Not covered in this article.

For more information

APC Secretary
Christina Marsh


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