fabulous tips on creativity

These are great tips about creativity from Craig Tanner. See his website, www.tmelive.com. Craig is a terrific teacher – I’ve taken two workshops from him and hope to take more.
Here are some potentially powerful tips and suggestions to enhance your own creativity. (Not preaching! I need these tips as much as anyone).
What is your purpose as a photographer and artist? Create an overall purpose statement for your photography and art. Create a purpose statement for each individual shoot. Your purpose statements should generate powerful emotions within you. Great art stirs powerful emotions. If you are indifferent about your purpose for being a photographer how can you expect the viewer to connect in an emotionally powerful way to your work?
Knowing your purpose means moving away from reactive shooting and towards conscious practice. What is conscious practice? Conscious practice is knowing specifically what you are working on so that you can measure if you are in line with your intention. When you begin to consciously practice (instead of walking around looking for great shots) both happiness and progress will come in leaps and bounds.
Most of us as adults have been trained to try to protect ourselves by burying our emotions. This is a creativity killer. Great artists have a highly developed emotional life and are brave enough to give a heave-ho to the cowardice of the stiff upper lip. Let go. Smile. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Cry when you are sad. Create from the natural expression of your emotions.
Take more time to play. Play is an activity that has no purpose outside of fun. When we are truly playful we gain access to brain sates and mindsets that are documented and venerated to enhance intuitive thinking, flexible thinking, and help to renew both our physical and psychological energies.
When is the last time you were truly playful?
Frame all of your creative practice with positive experiences and thoughts. What does it mean to “frame”? Framing is what you do right before you do anything else. Here are three powerful framing tools for enhanced creativity.
1) Practice gratitude and share what you have to offer. To often we curse what we have and focus on our needs. Turn it around!!!
2) Practice vividly reliving in the present tense of your imagination past experiences where everything worked for you as a photographer. Make this work as palpable as possible by engaging as many of your senses as you can during this mental practice.
3) Use affirmations to positively frame your creative practice. Three of my all time favorite affirmations for enhanced creativity are (used in this order) “I am a magnet for creative ideas.” – “The answer is speeding its way to me now” – “I posses an endless supply of creative energy and tenacity”.
Make a habit of journaling. One of the top hallmarks of the highly creative person is a highly developed ability to capture ideas. We are constantly creating ideas. Unfortunately most photographers squander those gifts because they are not recorded anywhere. Brilliant ideas are soon forgotten – instead of recorded and nurtured. Your journal can also be used as a powerful envisioning tool. Project no images of the future. All envisioning work should be imagined as if it is taking place in the present tense. Journal the things you “experience” in the “perfect world” present tense explorations of the imagination of your visions.  When you begin to regularly journal you will notice a powerful shift in the flow of your creativity.
Use your journal to record negative limiting thoughts and beliefs. Make a conscious choice to work with these thoughts in a creative way to turn them around into ideas that are empowering. Click here to visit the website of Byron Katie and “The Work” – a powerful metaphysical tool kit for working with negative beliefs in ways that can change them from limits to doorways to joy and enhanced creativity.
Quit trying and start trusting. Trying implies there is some outcome in the process that is more important than the process itself. Trying turns us into vacant zombies always looking to the outside world and the future for the thrill that will finally bring us peace and joy. Trust is what happens when you know you are in line with the intention of your purpose. Trust is what happens when you reach the realization that great photography is not out there somewhere. Great photography and great art come from within you. Use quiet time and journaling to listen to the places where you find the heart of your work. Know your purpose and stick to it (until your purpose shifts). Be the purpose and the intention behind the purpose. If you are true to the intention of your purpose all of your photography and efforts have priceless value because they bring you the peace and joy in each moment that comes from being true to yourself.
Suspend judgement in the early part of your process. Make many attempts and collect many ideas. Ask “What if” questions? Look at the creative challenge in ways that abstract the challenge. Look at the challenge from a far distance. Look at the subject to be photographed and rename it in ways that make it less literal moving more and more towards the abstract.
Consciously introduce extreme limits into your creative process. Its a myth that freedom leads to creativity. Too much freedom in the creative process leads to artist’s block because it encourages us to look to the outside world for the “grass that is greener” to get started. Creative limits push us to say yes to the process itself. Creative limits remind us of what we far to often forget – the art comes from within. Mostly what we need is the permission to express what we already have and are….beings whose most basic and profound nature is unlimited creativity. Give yourself a very short time frame to produce 100 variations of a photographic subject or theme. Restrict yourself to one lens. Restrict yourself to an extremely small space. Combine multiple creative limitations. And then watch your creativity soar.
After giving yourself a lot of attempts from which to choose regroup and put on your logical thinking hat and make choices and commitments. Refine the project parameters and get focused on a specific goal…..but be open enough to recognize when the goal was just a permission to arrive at a much better idea altogether.
While moving consciously towards your goal make a habit  of being outrageously and unforgettably tenacious. One of my all time favorite affirmations for tenacity is “I refuse to accept undesirable circumstance as having final reality!”  (Uell Andersen – from the book  The Key To power and Personal Peace).
Practice being a flexible thinker. Highly creative people have developed a habit of being able to move freely from being intuitive and playful to being logical and judging. Both modalities are critical to enhancing your creativity and achieving your purpose. It is a myth perpetuated by deeply flawed science that human beings are either left brained (logical / sequential) or right brained thinkers (intuitive / holistic). We are all whole brained thinkers. Unfortunately most of us have practiced a lot more being sequential thinkers. We need to practice working with both modalities of the creative mind. Many of the things I have already mentioned will help you to exercise the more holistic, intuitive, and playful part of your creative mind. Journaling and quiet time, allowing yourself to be emotional, consciously setting time aside to just play, actively choosing to suspend judgement, recognizing limiting beliefs and working with them to go past your current limits.
Speaking of limits – when is the last time you took a big risk in the service of your dream? As adults we place way too much value on knowledge, competency, and security. To truly move forward we will have to become vulnerable beginners again. Mistakes are an amazing source of creativity. If we are only practicing when we truly know what we are doing and we are pretty sure of what we are going to get we run a big risk of our results becoming predictable, stale and boring for both us and the viewer. Truly going past limits involves discomfort, failure and mistakes. Are you willing to look foolish in the service of growing towards your dream? Are you willing to let go of security and self protection to be truly alive? Are you willing to reframe the discomfort (of imposing upon your own false sense of security) as the heightened state of awareness that you always experience just before a breakthrough? Are your willing to be a beginner again. Highly creative people allow themselves to have truly new experiences in the service of their dreams. Becoming a beginner again should be a regular part of your creative playground.
All art is communication. Communication is a bridge between you and me. When we communicate and share in a way where both you and me are better than we were before that is service. Service is our highest calling. What are the ways you can practice your photography and art where you, the subjects of your photography, and the viewer of your artwork are all better off than they were before your artwork was created and shared?
I hope these ideas challenge you and help you to grow your photography in ways that surprise you and allow you to have more fun and joy along the way.

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