Putting creativity into perspective

I once participated in a student print competition judged by world renowned photographer Ernst Haas. The competing photos ranged from a small black & white of some obscure content to a large fabulously printed color sunset. I was greatly surprised that the little black & white was awarded first prize. After re-examining it I realized saw that there was more to it than I had realized and it had a characteristic none of the competition had --creativity. I'm sure Ernst Haas had seen thousands of beautiful sunset photos but this was the first time he had seen this. You can take some good photos without much creativity but if you want to stand out from the crowd, creativity is paramount. Creativity is what separates the masses from genius.

There is a big difference between creativity and "creative techniques". If you search the internet you will find articles such as "10 creative techniques for photographers". This really has nothing to do with creativity. It is just a list of unusual ideas for photos. They may be fresh ideas for you but if they are someone else's ideas you aren't creating anything new. Creativity has to come from you.

Creativity is not just a matter of taking exotic or unusual photos. It is a way of thinking that should be an integral part of your photography even when working with ordinary subject matter. No, especially when working with ordinary subject matter.

In some forms of photography such as landscape, producing new and unusual content is not easy because other photographers have already explored the obvious and easy possibilities. But creativity goes beyond new content. As an example, this photo ( which was explained in a previous lesson) required creative composition to get the tree to fit in without overpowering the composition. It may not be a highly unusual photo but creative thinking was an integral part of the process that helped make it work. Instead of relying on a routine like the rule of thirds, a more fitting composition had to be created.

Just because billions of photos of landscapes have already been shot doesn't mean there is nothing left to discover. The easy and the obvious has already been covered but there is plenty left waiting for creative minds to uncover. Over the years I've noticed dozens of creative avenues that no one is addressing.