It was only a few years ago I finally bought a decent camera and started to pursue my interest in photography.
Still a novice, I’ve got a flickr page and find that I can lose myself for hours looking at other photographers’ art. I’m delighted and inspired by the images my flickr contacts share, and encouraged every time one of my photos gets a comment or a ‘favorite’.
I’ve taken some workshops, dabbled a bit in a camera club and am now attending a meetup group. The monthly meetup group is pretty informal, with some good discussions about creativity, originality and the like. The meetup’s goals group, which I also attend, is more structured and serious. The group leader is also a proponent of the ‘buddy system’, where you go out and take pictures together.
If there’s anything that will put a stopper on my well of creativity it’s making it a social event. I’m baffled by photographers who go out in groups or pairs and come back with an inspired shot. Actually, I don’t think it’s all that common. In order to tap into creative inspiration, I need to go inside myself, and not come to a consensus with a group about what’s photo-worthy. I’ve even been out on a nature trail with fellow photographers and the yakking scared off some beautiful birds.
Reading Susan Cain’s wonderful book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”, my preference in this creative process is affirmed. Most of the world’s greatest art, as well as scientific and technical discoveries, are not the product of group collaboration. Sure, there are mural artist groups, screenwriting duos and scientific research teams that have all made their mark on society. But I’m guessing that if Henri Cartier-Bresson had been distracted by a photo-buddy’s chatter, he would have missed too many of those ‘decisive moments’.
When I’m taking photos, the only relationship that matters is the one between me, my camera, and the subject. Trying to maintain social ties at the same time usually ends up in my being present neither to my photo nor to my companion. It’s even worse if it’s a ‘date’. After all, would you go on a date to write poetry or throw pottery together?
Creating art is, for the most part, a process that generally requires a bit of an inward journey. Although I’m influenced by a lot of other photographers, developing as an artist is really about uncovering – and sharing – my own particular vision.
Tonight is goals group…a challenge for this introvert, but maybe also an opportunity. Both to articulate what works for me, and to learn more from the extroverts among us what inspires their best work. While I may not be converted to the ‘buddy system’, I expect the extroverted artists in the group might offer some new perspectives.