Creativity 101: Creative Newborn Photos
I’ve had the pleasure of photographing newborns for many years now. And it never grows old. Every newborn bub is a new experience, an encounter. A unique gift. Every newborn takes my breath away and leaves me with a genuine sense of wonder. However, what does sometimes grow old is the “job” that follows meeting the little treasure … 2-4 hour sessions are often draining and it’s easy to slip into job-mode. After all, a newborn session requires a lot of planning and effort to execute well. The secret to keeping things fresh though, is to remind oneself of our very basic aim: creative newborn photos. That is, we want to capture every unique little newborn in a creative way, a memorable way.
And I’m not referring to novelty for novelty sake.
Beyond Novelty: Creative Newborn Photos
Creativity can often be expressed or even ignited through novelty, yes. However, I’m referring to a mindset more than merely copping in to the latest trends and fads. The truth is, novelty can actually detract from creativity. Novelty can smudge creative moments and turn what should be creative newborn photos into kitsch, tacky, even gaudy images. Every photographer is probably guilty of this at some point. You know what I mean. That prop you thought would work so well suddenly makes the newborn look like a comic-book villain. Or that beautiful backdrop you envisioned suddenly turns the image dark and foreboding. Or like the circus came to town and crash-landed in your studio.
When it comes to using trends and fads well, you may want to see this article on orthodoxy and originality where I ask the question: if I remove the bells and whistles, the frills and tassels, does my work stand on its own?
The Source of Creativity
Creativity flows from the soul. A soul at peace and centred. A soul that’s rested and nurtured. Yes we can pick up ideas scouring the Internet for tips and tricks, but the creative juices flow out of reflection. Do the homework, yes. Research far and wide. Surf the web until you’re dizzy and your eyes hurt.
But then … clear out the diary and give yourself time to think. To meditate. To clear the mind and open headspace. To Ponder. To unlock the inner well.
Then … ideas borne in the soul emerge. Unique ideas. Your ideas. Not ideas copy-pasted from others. Not ideas flogged via what’s currently trending. Ideas that flow from who you are. Original ideas. Ideas created by you.
And even if you don’t drum up some “new ideas” in these reflective moments (which happens more so than not), most importantly: you’ll still unlock a vibrancy that adds life and vitality to the “old things” you do. Stale things suddenly become fresh. Dull things recover their glow. What was once greyscale suddenly resonates with colour and hue. Why?
Because creativity is not first and foremost about generating new ideas. It’s about seeing things anew.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something…” (Steve Jobs, 1996 Wired Interview, emphasis mine).
It’s about connecting things. Connecting things we didn’t see at first. Or connecting things again that we once saw clearly. It’s about reconnecting with your true passions. It’s about awakening (or re-awakening) your dormant gifts. It’s about remembering the reason you started in the first place and falling in love with it again. As author Ursula K. Le Guin said:
The creative adult is the child who survived.”
Creativity is essentially about a mindset. A mindset alive. Abuzz. A mindset that’s brimming with wonder and awe. A mindset capable of producing a steady stream of creative newborn photos that are memorable, engaging and captivating.
Books have been written on the subject of creativity (See Creativity 101 by James C. Kaufman, for one), but when all is read and studied, it comes down to this:
Reflection Point: True creativity stems from the soul and it’s only released through times of reflection.
Creative Reflection: Means to an End
Reflection means different things to different people. Some need stillness. Others need nature. Some need to talk, while others need silence. Some need activity, others inactivity. We’re all different. And while we can certainly learn from the “methods” of others, at the end of the day, we all need to find our own groove. One that respects our own natural rhythms. If you don’t “do it” like someone else, that’s okay. As long as you’re carving the space for your own soul to find rest, the way you do it is secondary.
So, experiment. Try different methods. However, remember this: whatever the means, they all require time. Yes, you’ll need to schedule a block of time. And you’ll need to turn off the phone (and iPad and computer). And make sure the children are in good hands. Remember, unless you make the time, you’ll never find the time. Finding headspace only happens when we schedule the time to allow space in our head.
Reflection Point: We all reflect in different ways. Make the time to find your own style.
Our Art: Creative Newborn Photos
To sum up then, it’s important to remember we’re both artists and businesspeople. Each role requires a different hat. It’s too easy to allow one to fudge the other, especially during periods of busyness and stress. When we wear the business hat, we must be the best business person we can be. But at our essence, we’re artists. And we owe it to ourselves to nurture this inherent orientation. (You may want peruse this five-part series on Keeping your Photography Talent Sharp.)
What are your thoughts on the subject? Share your ideas below…