I think my creative process is generally split up in two steps. The first step is making things. It involves fun and the desire to play, to try and experiment, to be free and unrestricted. The other step is evaluating what I have been making, editing my work, being critical of myself.
That first step of generating photographs is what I love to do. I have said it so often before, but with limitations I feel completely unrestricted. That moment when you are full of ideas or when you see interesting subjects everywhere is absolutely inspiring.
The second step is absolutely necessary. No doubt about that. It helps to be critical of your endeavours. It helps to challenge yourself and to push the creativity forwards. Realistically though I also know that due to my fear and uncertainty this evaluating step can become my master. And when it does it actually restrains me. Then I hate my work, I get annoyed by the things I do and the tools I use, doubt sets in, often followed by those doldrums. Moments when I feel uninspired and take no photographs. Doubt, always this doubt.
At such moments I take away the spontaneity, the joy, the passion. I hate these moments, although I always seem to fall for it. Is there really a need for perfecting what I do?
I haven’t been photographing so extensively the last few months and this gave me the opportunity to do a retrospective of my work from the last couple of years. And I realized that many of my finest moments, I say finest, were when I felt the most restricted by my tools and the least restricted by my ideas. Vague? Likely so, but when I threw overboard my high expectations and the desire of perfecting myself I felt most liberated by what I could do. For me, it is that tantalizing feeling that you play, that you feel open and free like a child.
Like this week when I felt uncomplicated photographing and editing with my cellphone (the photographs in this post are from this week and I posted these earlier on Instagram). Or in 2009 when I first tried the Ricoh GRD3. And most importantly in 2011 when I did my photo a day project. Especially in the months January, August, and November it felt like everything came naturally. And I shouldn’t forget March 2008. I made some of my best landscape photographs. Like the moment I ditched my SLR and lenses for the GR1. When I started to do B&W landscape photographs with my compact camera to get that sketch look.
It sets in that when I start to look differently at subjects I see almost always on a daily basis. Moments when I got out of my comfort zone experimenting with compositions and purposed intentions. And also when I least worried about the cameras I used and the image quality these provided, and when I tried new post processing methods. I played at such moments. Nothing formal, no complications.
I love it when I can liberate myself from the habits that set in after many years. When I just point my camera or cell phone and press the shutter. When I go further or do different stuff in my post processing. It makes me realize that I really don’t need that much to make photographs, to be creative. The best though is when I feel the desire to shoot.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma