Creating our garden of creativity

being more creative creativity & photography landscape photography thoughts Sep 24, 2022

“It frequently takes half a lifetime for the creatively talented individual to come to terms with one's own talent, to accept it fully, and to unleash oneself, that is, to be post ambivalent about one’s talent.” 

--Abraham Maslow

I recently suffered a somewhat unexpected series of losses in my life.  Some were unnecessary, avoidable, and undesirable, while others are the progression of people you have grown close to moving away or taking a new job so you see them much less. Taken individually the losses are easy to shake off, but as they compound or build upon each other we get some compressive impacts that tend to knock me off center. 

When I lose my center I turn back into my creativity, immerse myself into elements of routine, structure, and seem to become more introspective.  I have emerged from this time pondering what obligations do I have to share the things I am learning with others when is it just simply mine to keep to myself?  

I am relentless in my collection of books, reading of articles, and the overall betterment of myself.  So what is a framework to consider for how I view this work?  I think of it like being a gardener and cultivating your own garden.  There are parts of your garden you might choose to share with others.  Maybe it is a home grown tomato as part of a meal, a bouquet of fresh cut flowers as a gift, or a particular plant you cultivated that is hard to grow or unique in how it looks.  

Through my personal growth and recovery from a tendency to overwork I have tried to separate anything I am doing for ego, prestige, or to foster approval from another person.  This was a major driver for me to get off social media four years ago.   I had grown tired of producing for other people and having parts and pieces of my mood driven by how well a post did, and how many followers I had or didn’t.  

Part of my practice is to return to my core values.   There are 5 Core Values that I was able to select out of a list of over 200 values. 

  • Congruency
  • Creativity
  • Differentiation
  • Gratitude
  • Resiliency

What this means to me is that I want to be congruent in my actions, express myself creatively, differentiate myself through my own unique choices, but also be grateful for the splendor of life and resilient in how I live it.  In addition to returning to my 5 core values I also reflect on the mission and values for Nature Photography Classes. 

“Helping nature photographers, who are interested in deeper connections, create more impactful images, so they can confidently and consistently express themselves.”

 Returning to my values helps me to think about the “Creativity garden” I wish to share.  But more than just sharing my garden and asking for hollow praise, it is about providing others with some of the insights, tools, recipes, resources, and processes I used to build my own garden.    In the words of Degas “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” this means for me I have to be willing to play two parts.  Seeing the world in my unique way by expressing what I am personally seeing and feeling, but also by sharing this journey with others. 

“The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.”

— Susan Meiselas

 My photography, my learnings, and my teachings serve as both the connection to myself, a connection to others, and my own connection to the natural environment.  But how does my photography serve the point of separation?  I don’t want to use my art, my photography, my creativity to create barriers with others.  As humans we crave connection.  We need it to survive.  I don’t want to separate myself from my peers, my students, those I care about, and that care about me.  But I want to separate myself in the expression of my work and what I choose to say. 

“Your life needs to become a creative work of art… what the world needs is not more intelligence, it doesn’t need more knowledge, we are drowning in facts and information… what the world needs is wisdom.  Wisdom is inseparable from awareness.” 
Eckhart Tolle

What this means is I share freely those things within my garden that I am ready to share, but not everything in my garden needs to be shared at this point.  Maybe it needs to grow another season, maybe it needs to be transplanted, or given some more water.  Wisdom shared and gathered will only help all of us. 

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