Flex your creative muscles

Hello friend, today I want to talk to you about creating and a simple logical fallacy I think all creators sometimes fall victim to.

I’m talking about practice. The other day I was out taking photographs and I hated it. To be honest some days I simply don’t enjoy taking photographs. I have a bad head and I think to myself “god this sucks, nothing is happening and all of my photos look terrible.” I remember from when I was in SF attending a workshop with Vinheet Vohra I was going through something similar. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, he noticed this and took me aside and said something along the lines of “what’s wrong? Why are you not enjoying photography? You don’t need to create a masterpiece every single day. You can just put the camera away and relax.” This really helped me, and I’ve thought about this conversation whenever I’m not enjoying photography. I think what’s going on is my brain is being hijacked by my emotional pull towards making great photographs. I want to make something that is beautiful and meaningful and the quality of work that I’m creating is so far off from what I want that I get upset and feel as though I suck as a human being. This is just part of me having a bad head.

But later that same day I was doing Yoga I thought to myself “wow I’ve really come a long way from when I first started doing Yoga, I feel really good. I can feel my body getting more flexible and relaxed.” I’ve heard about this concept that weight lifters have called “noob gains” when you first start out lifting weights you learn to use muscles you rarely used before and this allows you to make what appears to be rapid progress and some people even double the amount of weight that they can lift in their first few months of training. I think creativity is exactly the same except we don’t have a linear number to compare ourselves to, we only have the subjective work that we make. Once you get past the “noob gains” your ability to increase the weight that you can lift becomes MUCH rarer and you need to work a lot harder before your body can progress. I feel as though that’s where I’m at in my photography, I’m at a point where I need to work a lot harder to make any real progress in my abilities.

I think one of the things that lots of artists often forget is how hard you need to work before creating a really good piece of art. We all want to do it every day but that’s just unrealistic. What I should be focused on is simply flexing my creative muscles. You shouldn’t go out with the intention of creating an amazing photograph, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You should simply go out for the sake of practicing photography, while being fully aware that it’s only after a long period of practice that you make something that’s really meaningful.