Courting Creativity

My creative process is catch-as-catch-can. It isn’t planned. Like a muse, my creativity is fickle and unreliable, but when it’s in me, it’s like I have my spark back – and I didn’t even know it was missing. Work becomes play, and everything else recedes into the background.

For a few days I’d been planning to do some still-life photography of flowers. I spent a long time at the antiques store yesterday, looking at vases. I wound up buying five. I bought a bouquet of “crazy daisies,” which were a mix of yellow, orange, green and blue. Then today at Savers I found another vase and a sparkly, lime green shower curtain to use as a backdrop.

I came home and got to work, putting a sheer white curtain in the kitchen window for diffused light, and setting up my background. Because the fabric shower curtain was slightly sheer, I had to put something white behind it. I pinned two white garbage bags onto poster board, and then the curtain over that. Then I dragged the table over, put down some white paper and spread the curtain over it as well. I snipped the flowers and arranged them in the different vases and set up my camera on a tripod.

And then I was good to go.

This is when you hope your creativity will be cooperative and show up, since you’ve done all the busy work. I tried a few shots from just inside the bathroom (my apartment is, er, cozy) standing on a step stool, and they were… dull. Like, “Hey, look, crazy-colored daisies in a vase. Whoo.”


But that’s how these things usually start out, and then I warm up.


I played with two vases and depth of field, and those shots turned out slightly less dull, bordering on not bad.


And then I got out of the bathroom and my creativity decided to wake up and join the party.

I don’t know how else to put it.

Something changed so that I was no longer separate from my subject, but was exploring it through my camera’s lens. I started shuffling the vases around and then just looking at the arrangements for colors and shapes. Time dissolved or stopped – I’m not sure which. I started using my manual focus. Eventually my compositions didn’t immediately look like flowers.


When I’d finally exhausted every vantage point I could think of, I had 100+ images and my camera battery was down to 80%. Of course, of those 100+ images, half or less get kept, and only a handful of those are ones I’m truly pleased with.


And my muse said “You’re welcome” and crawled back to bed.


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