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8 Rules for the creative life

The post 8 rules for the creative life appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

The biggest stumbling block for many photographers is not knowing how to be creative. You have some natural talent but never seem to break out and become a satisfied creative person. Fortunately, some rules govern a happy and productive creative life. These rules help you gain control and live your creativity – even with a busy work schedule and without sacrificing valuable time with your family.

Here are eight of those rules that will help you thrive as a creative photographer.

Practice your creativity.

Children have mastered creativity. They may not be that good, but they always do it. Their life is organized around exploration and small creative projects. Between the new skills they learn and the volume of their output, their natural skill increases rapidly.

1. Don't rely on your natural talent

You may have a natural eye for photography, but that is not enough. You will hit a wall one day and not know how to overcome it.

Even with a good eye though, you have to keep learning about what makes a good photo. Go ahead and put your own creative spin on what you learn. When you work hard and understand what makes photography great, you will always have ideas and principles to exhaust, even if you are completely uninspired. You can at least keep working until real creative ideas touch you.

Do not rely on natural talent. Understand how photography works, and practice your creativity so that you can turn it on when you need it.

Practice your creativity

2. Successful creative people never stop

Successful creative people never stop working. They are not lazy. They rise to the top because of how hard they work.

But this does not mean that you should not sleep or step back from your creative efforts. Successful creative people rest to recharge and come back to work even stronger.

When you think about it, you always do something with your time (even if it's just scrolling on social media). But the best creative people are intentional and constructive with their time. If you always do something, why don't you prefer something creative?

Many people think that they have too little time to devote themselves to their photography. You have time, but you choose to spend it on other things. Record exactly what you do all day. You will be shocked at how much time you waste. Don't waste your time, do photography instead.

Get up an hour earlier. Study and practice photography before your day starts. You cheat the time by using what you would normally have slept away.

Consider where you could be in a year if you spend an hour on photography every day. Henri Cartier-Bresson says that your first 10,000 photos are the worst. If that's true, hurry up and get them behind you. You only need to take 28 photos for about a year.

But working hard doesn't mean that you have to neglect your family in the process. A career as a workaholic can destroy your family, and this is not healthy for them or you. Many traveling photographers leave their families in the name of doing something meaningful with their work. But what does their work have to offer the world if their own families suffer?

Work work work. Get up an hour earlier to do it, but guard your family against abuse of work.

Black and white Rembrandt lighting

I know that this photo is grainy and a bit soft. I think it's fine because I have a preference for non-perfect black-and-white photos (and Rembrandt lighting).

3. Creativity generator

Exploration is a creativity generator. Research your profession, the craft of other people and the whole world around you.

If your spaceship is a portrait, you must explore portraits. But you also have to investigate other types of photography (photojournalism, macro, wildlife, etc.). You will discover interesting ways to improve your portraits while studying other forms of photography.

Take your knowledge outside of photography. Study all kinds of creative disciplines (writing, painting, sculpture or architecture). You don't have to learn it do these things, just learn about them.

Also read memoirs and biographies of creative people. View what a successful creative life looks like. And learn from the mistakes of tragic lives.

Part of creativity is bringing known things together in new ways. The more you research, the more you have to bring together.

Exploration leads to endless creative possibilities.

4. Capture your ideas before they disappear

As you learn, work and research, you need a way to capture creative ideas that always come to mind. They glow brightly but disappear quickly. You have to catch those ideas like fireflies in a pot.

Instead of jumping from idea to idea without ever completing anything, you take a notebook or recording device with you to capture your ideas. Make a note of your idea and then go back to the project you are working on. Being stubborn is much better than spreading your thoughts about many semi-finished projects. Those semi-finished projects will probably never be completed projects.

Saw your ideas later if you need something new to work on. You will find that many of those ideas were not worth pursuing. Moreover, you will realize that there were some gems that you had completely forgotten.

You get a lot of ideas, let the best rise to the top over time.

creative black and white photo' s.

As I watched my son build Lego, I saw the gesture in his toes. Part of the exploration is just looking at what is happening around you.

5. Build bridges

Some people prefer to work as a team, others prefer to work on their own. Even if you prefer to pursue your own craft alone, you still have to gather with other photographers.

You should mainly gather with those who photograph different subjects than you. The friendship and feedback will encourage you and help you to stay narrow and stagnant.

It can become very lonely to be the only creative person you know, especially if your partner does not share your drive for creativity. Before you know it, you are like an isolated island.

Build bridges to the other creative people around you.

6. One explosion can ruin everything

It is better to build bridges than to burn them.

The only thing that is needed is a big emotional outburst to ruin your creative career. Whether you are an entrepreneur or working in a team, nobody wants to tolerate your anger or dramatic outbursts. Treat everyone around you with respect. Even go so far that you treat them as more important than yourself. Everyone will be happy to work with you.

If you let your emotions do the best, be good again soon.

Excessive negative emotion suppresses your creativity. Be kind to yourself and get help in dealing with your stress.

In a world of difficult people, be the easy person to work with.

Creative community

Collect with other creative people.

7. Help other creative people to be better than you

It would be natural to assume that if you are generous with your talent, time and resources, people will just benefit from you. That can happen. But soon your generosity corresponds to people who are forever grateful for it.

I still remember those who did their best to help me when I just started. They could have protected themselves against the new photographer, wishing he would fail and disappear. They helped me instead. Now I help other photographers, even if they look like my direct competitors.

It may seem counterintuitive, but you will help yourself more if you help others first. Sometimes concentrating on someone else's creativity can help you more than just focusing.

Be the first in a community of creative people who help each other to become better, better and better.

Improve creativity

My daughter wanted to make her own birthday cake. We leave her.

8. Switch off your telephone

You must have periods in which you are uninterrupted. The last thing you need when you brainstorm about ways to complete a creative project is a phone that constantly points you to something else.

Practice turning off your phone for a few hours at a time – maybe even a whole day. It is liberating to think, play and be creative without the distraction.

As I drove back this morning from a three-hour creative session, I saw a person checking his phone while they waited for a red light. I had a lot on my mind and couldn't contain adding a phone to the mix. Now I know that when I look at my phone, what creative ideas had in mind will disappear. So I only look at it a few times a day.

We easily become addicted to our digital technology and a "fear of missing" ensures that we keep checking. I have a greater satisfaction in my creativity and a greater fear of losing my creative drive in the moment. My phone is usually switched off.

You don't want to trade in your creativity for endless digital chatter. Phones, tablets and computers are handy. But they have a way to talk about it.

Turn your phone from and change your creative mind on.

The creative life

If you follow these eight rules, your creativity will thrive.

You have distraction free time to learn, work and discover.

You will find that you are encouraged by the other creative people in your life.

Moreover, you will always grow and that also applies to your creativity.

Do you have other tips for your creative life? Please share them with us in the comments below.

The post 8 rules for the creative life appeared for the first time at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

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