Tag Archives: photography

Criticism Vs. Cynicism

I have spoke before about seeking out people to review your work to become a better photographer.  By getting constructive criticism you may be able to gain new insights from other people who have more experience than you do.  You have to be able to get criticism from the right sources though or it will not amount to an improvement in your work.

The thing that you don’t want to do is accept cynicism from other people that keep following the same paths in their certain business and try to pinhole you in to one way of doing things that might not be you.

To read more about this topic take a look at this article that will explain it a little better than I have:  On Criticism, Cynicism, & Sharpening Your Gut Instinct.

The website it is on is called the99percent.com and it is an excellent source of information on making your idea happen and business tips.

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Thoughts On Creativity

 

Creativity:  the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.  This is the definition from dictionary.com.

Creativity is a hard word to define.  We all know creativity when we see it but when we try to define it there will be people that agree and people that won’t agree.  Everyone has their own theory on where creativity comes from and how to develop it or coax it out of hiding.  I have been thinking about this topic for a long time and been reading many opinions and have tried to be more creative myself.  I wrote this post to reflect my thoughts and understanding on this topic.  Please leave a comment if you have affirming or dissenting thoughts on this subject.

Innate or Learned

Like most arguments about different ability levels of people, the first question is whether we are born with creativity or if it is learned.  I believe that creativity is innate within all of us.  You just have to find the pursuit that you are passionate about and learn all you can about that topic/area so that creativity can flourish.  Obviously people will be born with abilities that will give them an advantage in certain things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard and learn that craft or find the thing that you are good at.  I cannot draw or paint or sculpt art from clay.  I have tried and tried all of those but it just wasn’t working.  I do love photography though and worked hard at it to create art that I enjoy from it.

School today teaches you how to not be creative.  They push memorization and multiple choice tests so that you can be another cog in the system when you get out.  This happens in almost every country, not just the US.  The system makes you like a machine that can crank out more products in less time for the big corporations.  They don’t allow you to wander and spend time with art and new ideas.  There was a recent study that came out that showed 90% of Asian schoolchildren are nearsighted.  The conclusion they came to is that they weren’t going outside enough and were inside studying so much that their eyes were not developing correctly (http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/07/why-up-to-90-of-asian-schoolchildren-are-nearsighted/).  The reason I bring this up is that they are so focused on making the grades and fitting into the system that they are not even enjoying childhood and going outside.  Humans have a long history of connectedness to nature, you can even say it is a spiritual connection.  By not going outside you are cutting yourself off from what the divine has created, maybe even closing yourself off to the creativity that is there.  I am not saying to not study hard and stop going to school.  Just that you should try to push past basic education to learn things on your own and live a balanced life.  The more experiences you have the more creative you can become.

I will give some more of my thoughts about how to attain creativity later in this post.

A Little History on Creativity

Different cultures have explained the moment when you tap into creativity in very different ways.  Romans and Greeks both believed that humans did not have the ability to be creative on their own.  They thought a higher  or divine power infused humans with the insight and ideas to be creative The Greek’s called this higher being a “Daemon” and the Roman’s called it a “Genius”.

During the Renaissance creativity was first seen as an attribute separate from the divine, it was the ability of “Great Men”.  For the first time people were given credit for the work they created as individuals apart from a higher power.

Now we have the ability to do brain scans when people are trying to solve a problem that takes some creativity to get through.  Using this you can see certain parts of the brain activate when there is an “aha” moment and something clicks.  This is the moment when the brain connects multiple ideas to create a new interesting idea.  Even though we can scan a brain and see what parts are in motion when a creative thought arises we still can’t explain why it happens.

Most of the time this “aha” moment happens when we aren’t even trying to make anything up.  A great idea will just pop into your mind while you are daydreaming in the shower, or zoned out driving in the car.  I believe these types of thoughts come from the unconscious mind, which would have a more adept ability to connect all these ideas than our regular conscious and hectic brains would.  The question I cannot answer is if some brains just connect multiple thoughts together to make something interesting and new, or is there something more.  Whether it comes from a Muse (goddess of literature, science, and arts in Greek mythology), divine power, or just an ability of the human brain does not matter.  There are ways to get creativity to show up more often.

Ways to Be More Creative

Most people will have felt the power of creativity at one point or another in their life.  Whether it was an idea that just popped into your head during the day or if you have ever sat down for hours trying to write a paper and the words just started flowing effortlessly out of you, this is the power of creativity.  The point is creativity is not just reserved for a select few.  There are things you can do to try and have more “aha” moments or create more interesting things.

Here is a list of ways to coax creativity out of your unconscious or even from the divine:

  1. Do your work everyday.  The more you grind down and keep doing your part of the bargain (assuming the creative part comes from the daemon) the more opportunities there will be for you to be open to receive an insight or creative idea.  The more you immerse yourself in your art the better chance you will learn the ins and outs and create something interesting.
  2. Find something you are passionate about so that you can put in the amount of work needed in point 1 to consistently make creative things.
  3. Be ready for it at anytime.  Creativity is fickle, it can strike at any time, and leave just as fast as it came.  You have to be ready for it to strike at any time.   Most of the time it will not be in a convenient location, which is a big reason a lot of people that come up with many ideas carry around a notebook to capture these “aha” moments.
  4. Learn your craft like the back of your hand.  If you like photography then learn how to do the basics such as what shutter speed, iso and aperture are and how they can help you create different effects in your pictures.  Make changing these settings so ingrained that you don’t have to think about them when you are presented with a beautiful scene to capture.
  5. Be your own best critic for your work and keep improving it on a daily basis.
  6. Travel and explore new things.  Don’t just stick with your one form of art or you will never grow.  Explore museums, read literature, and expose yourself to other art forms so that your brain has numerous different ideas to pull from to make new creative connections.  By traveling you will be forced to see things from other people’s point of view which will broaden your horizons.
  7. Don’t specifically search for creativity.  You will never find it.  There is no exact definition or understanding for creativity so it will be impossible to find it.  If you are searching for it that means you are not concentrating on your work enough for creativity to shine within you.  Just keep your mind working on your specific art and others will let you know when your work is creative.
  8. Don’t be afraid of doing your work.  Don’t listen to other people when they judge you or say you are not creative.  To make great work you have to be confident in what you are doing.  I am not saying to block out constructive criticism, just don’t listen to the haters that don’t ever create anything and sit on the side line being critical about what everyone else is doing.

Conslusion

Let me know how you view creativity in the comments.  Everyone may have a different method of invoking the muse into their life since no two people’s art is the same.  Just get out there and do what you love and let creativity come to you in whatever vehicle it will arrive in.

 

 

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Long Island, Bahamas Vacation

We recently took a trip to Long Island in the Bahamas.  I figured I would write a post to share some of the pictures from the trip.  Long island is 80 miles long and only 4 miles wide so we were able to visit most of the island during our trip.

Air Travel

On the way to Nassau some of our group was held up and wasn’t able to fly out at an airport in the US due to an over booked flight.  They eventually met back up with us in Nassau a few hours after our part of the group arrived.  We had to fly to Nassau, Bahamas before taking a small plane to the Stella Maris airport in Long Island the next day. The flight was a little bumpy but it was a fun experience.

When we landed in Nassau we stayed at Orange Hill Hotel.  It wasn’t the nicest place to stay but it was for only one night and I got some good pictures while we were there.

 

Long Island House

While we were in Long Island we stayed at Whymms Villas in the “On-A-Whymm” house.  It was a beautiful house with a pool in the back and an ocean view from the back porch.  I don’t think we could have chosen a nicer place for the week we were there.

 Cape Santa Maria

We spent most of our time on the West side of the Island where the sandy beaches and calmer water is.  We spent our first day at Cape Santa Maria, which is known as one of the nicest beaches in the Bahamas.  The water is crystal blue all around the island but it was even more so at Cape Santa Maria.  The sand was amazing, it was very white and the grains were so fine it felt more like clay than sand.  We also went reef fishing with some guides from the resort later in the week.  It was amazing how many fish we caught off the reefs in so little time.  We were even able to reel a shark in.  What a fight that was!

 Gordons Beach

There are numerous other beaches on the island including Gordons Beach.  This beach was not as nice as Cape Santa Maria but we had fun hanging out and swimming there for the day.  The entrance to the beach appears to go through a sewage area (it may just be a salt pond, don’t know) and it smells if you stick too close to the beach entrance.  There is also a lot of trash that has been pushed ashore from the ocean.  The only way we knew it was Gordon’s beach was from a sign that had been tossed to the side of the road.

 Rock Pools

We also made our way to the Atlantic side of the island.  One of our favorite places were the Rock Pools.  It was fun to stand on the edge of where the pools ended and watch the waves crash up against the rocks.  The water collects on the rocky shore into little pools.  It was fun to walk around and see what was sitting in all the pools of water.  This location actually has a sign pointing to the location so it wasn’t as hard to find it as some other locations on the Island.

 Dean’s Blue Hole

One day we decided to visit Dean’s Blue hole, which is the deepest blue hole recorded in the Bahamas at more than 600 feet deep.  We asked numerous locals about the Blue Hole and all of them told us that they would not swim in it.  When we arrived there was a sign warning to not swim in it unless you had strong swimming skills.  It didn’t say anything about being sucked in on the sign.  We decided that it was worth the risk and jumped off the nearby cliffs into it and also went snorkeling through it to see the fish that were all around.  It was one of the wildest things I have ever seen.  The water is shallow all around the blue hole and then it just drops off into blackness.  It is like being in another world looking at the edges of the hole and how they just disappear into the deep.

A couple days after leaving the Blue Hole a local fishing guide told us that a few people had died there the week earlier because they had been sucked into the Blue Hole.  I don’t know if we would have been jumping from the cliffs into it if we knew that this had occurred.  Pretty scary!

 Food

The whole time we were there we didn’t have a bad meal.  The one thing all the islanders rave about is the Conch.  This recommendation led us to Max’s Conch Bar, that everyone talks about.  Most people say to get the Conch Salad, which is a very good choice.

A few nights while we were there we had food cooked for us by Urshala, the housekeeper where we were staying.  It was a treat to say the least.  She cooked us something new each night including local lobster (crawfish) and conch chowder.

 Christopher Columbus Monument

We also visited Christopher Columbus’s Monument, where he first arrive October 17, 1492.  It is believed to be his third stop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island,_Bahamas).  The monument was a little difficult to find because like a lot of things on Long Island, the road was not marked.  We had a vague idea of where the Monument was and found a dirt road that eventually led us to where we wanted to go.

 Conclusion

If you want to go on a vacation where there is shopping and a lot of tourist attractions this is not the place you want to be.  But if you want to go to a place where you have a whole beach to yourself Long Island will be right up your alley.  Also a cautionary note.  Make sure to wear some kind of bug repellent (the locals swear baby oil works) to keep the sand flies off of you.  Maritza and a couple other people from the group had allergic reactions from being bit so many times while we were there.  Don’t let that stop you though because the views and experience are well worth the trip to the Bahamas.

Please visit our travel page under personal projects to see more photos from this trip.  Thanks for visiting!

 

 

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