When I (Gerri) was 3 years old, I met Carol, who would become one of my best friends through elementary school. Carol was always drawing horses and creating wonderful outfits for the paper dolls she drew. I was baffled by my inability to do the same. Lacking any encouragement to think I might learn to draw like Carol, but cursed with an un-restrained competitive spirit, I ultimately turned to deceit and began to trace horses and paper doll forms that I claimed as my own!
It turned out that I did have some musical ability that I could call my “talent,” but I never understood it as a sign of creative ability or imagination. In my mind, composers were creative, not me. Like Carol, they “made things up.” Later, Carol became an art teacher and I a music teacher. But, even throughout my 44 years of singing, teaching, directing choirs I thought of myself as a re-creator and an interpreter, never a creator.
Before I retired, I began to receive positive feedback on my photography, which I pursued only occasionally, and mostly on vacation. That was the encouragement I needed to pursue photography in retirement, partially with the idea that I would try to coax any latent talent I might have in the realm of visual thinking, hoping that the camera and my eye might work better together than my hand and eye do. To my genuine surprise, people who look at my images have expressed admiration for my “eye.” Does that mean that I might be a creative person after all? Well, even as I answer this question in the affirmative, there remains a doubt in my mind. Does a good eye for composition make you creative? What does it mean to be a creative photographer?
My answer is still evolving, but might be phrased in terms of how technique (acquired or innate) serves the finished work of art. Some might assess a photograph in terms of its technical perfection, emphasizing the mastery of camera technique and/or the use of advanced equipment. The more I learn about technique and equipment, however, the more I realize their supporting role in the search for meaningful images. Here is the path to creative art.
Early in the history of this blog, a responder suggested that he had no creative ability. I have come to believe that we all have creative ability. I believe that humans are at birth creative. Whenever we respond to an act of human creativity, we are creating its meaning for ourselves. My personal challenge is to allow myself the freedom to explore what is already a part of my nature.