What exactly is creativity?

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The Photos in this post are from a very cool event I photographed the other week called #Designnight presented by #autodesk I work with the awesome event planing team at The Adventure School

My original title for this post was going to be “Where does creativity come from?” but that is kind of obvious, your brain. I based this original title on the fact that people ask me this all the time, mostly asking how they can make better photographs, become better storytellers or just be able to problem solve their emotional lives. The fear part of my brain wants to demure and say I am far from the best photographer, storyteller or person, and the fact that they asked the question means they are on the right track to understand creativity. But, I have to stop myself and realize, I am quite good at photography, storytelling and problem solving OTHER people’s emotional problems, and that is why they are asking me the question.


There are many different kinds of creativity, I just happen to have a form that is able to be expressed in the way I express it. Some people are creative with numbers, some are creative with managing, some are creative in putting deals together, some are creative at sport (ok sports, for pretentious reasons sport just sounds better in this sentence), some are creative at leisure (yes, I mean this seriously, some people know how to have a good time, how to relax, how to not take themselves too seriously. It is a skill I know I need to develop). Creativity is a skill, some have an easier time developing it, but it can be learned, and should be taught in schools.

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The presenters at the most recent #designnight were (left) Explorer, Scientist, well just all around awesome person @jonathanknowles and (right) former director of the Center for  SETI research and basis for much of Jodi Foster’s character in the film version of Contact @jilltarter

Creativity does not always lead to happiness or success, in fact it can be a block for many of the things we value in society and lead to substance abuse, failed relationships and general unhappiness. As I see it, the key is the combination of creativity and being able to focus on one task at a time that is closer to the ideal traits for a happy and productive live.

I came up with the general idea for this post as I was doing yoga. I do 30 minutes of it every day (well in all honesty I do skip days once and a while, I am working on that). The idea is to allow my mind to slow down, combining the various stretches and movements, with controlled breathing to create a relaxed state of mind that both energizes me for the day and allows me to be more productive and creative. Problem was today as I was doing my ritual practice, I had the idea for this post and began writing it in my head, thinking of which photos would best illustrate what I wanted to say. This defeated the entire purpose of the yoga ritual. So I had to stop the thoughts, let my self have the time to not think about anything other than what I was doing at that particular moment, focus on my breathing, notice how my body felt as I moved through the various poses. It worked, sort of. Like everything it takes practice, I will never perfect yoga, I will never perfect photography, I will never perfect storytelling, I will never perfect my emotional life. And that is as it should be. If I woke up tomorrow and knew I would do everything perfectly, what would be the point of waking up?

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So, what is creativity? Who the hell knows. I know how it feels for me, it is like the world is a puzzle and once and a while I can find most of the pieces and make them line up in an aesthetically pleasing way to me, that is when I am truly happy.

Eventually my answer to people’s question about how to be creative is to think of yourself as an actor and your life is a movie or play or novel or whatever format you like, I imagine I am in some never-ending situation comedy, my character is the semi-eccentric artist type and flawed, but loving father who has crazy capers every day. Things do not always turn out as I would like, but they do always turn out as they should. Act like you are the person you want to be, and with practice (A LOT OF PRACTICE) you will become that person.

Or try something else. As far as I can tell there are as many ways to be creative as there are people. Have fun!

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting! Creativity can lead to new and beautiful works of art while at the same time leading one’s social life to destruction. I guess that’s the sacrifice we have to make.


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