The Frustration of Creativity
I remember in my childhood years the frustration at not being able to draw. Or paint. Or do anything remotely arty in fact. Yet I yearned deep in my heart to express myself in ways other than conversation.
Being young and rather green I never questioned the ‘why’ of my need to find my creative self, in fact in some ways I despaired of it. The desolation of yet again throwing away another abused sheet of A3 was taxing to say the least, however the occasional flash of brilliance, flush of success spurred me on to craft yet more miseries!
Then I discovered photography and my whole world changed. This was it! My voice was held in the tiny metal box that captured photons of light and conjured my truth and vision within its alchemical world. Through my turbulent teenage years I tramped the moors with my camera and collie dog, seeking the hidden corners and the call of my wild.
My images were crafted without expectation, without agenda. They simply became of this world for no other reason than to be seen, to be witnessed by anyone who would sit through another slide show or box of sepia stained black and white prints.
Deep Connections with Nature
That old camera became my portal into my inner spaces and taught me much about deep connections with nature, but of course I didn’t recognise that then. The visions of my youth moulder in a damp, broken down caravan at the bottom of the garden, perhaps one day soon I’ll muster up the courage to visit them and see who I was back then.
Time went on and I became a professional photographer shooting the land, her nature and people to pay the bills. I needed to see smiles, my clients wanted happiness and joy to shine through so my approach changed.
Chocolate Box Pictures
Chocolate box pictures for glossy magazines and coffee table books. I photographed people, the rich and the famous, the poor and the blighted. Always they had to wear that mask of joy, that smile of ‘everything is ok’.
The editors needed it of me, it was as if the shots were saying ‘if you keep on reading these stories you too will be happy like me’. I began to carry this over into my landscape and nature work. Smiling trees, happy mountains, contented rivers and laughing butterflies. ‘Nature Porn’ as it’s now called.
Two decades later I once again found myself in that place of desolation as my creativity became someone else’s. I could no longer see me in my work. I was creating a sham, a pictorial reality that was deceiving to say the least. So I went on a quest to find my creativity and the process changed my life.
I began to seek the spirit between the places, the muse who gifts us creative insights and my own authenticity in the imagery. It was a tough journey too as I had to let go of much that mattered to me in order to really begin to see again.
Awakening My Creativity
After 25 years of shooting for money giving time to the creative process without thought of profit or gain proved difficult beyond belief but I endured and went through a time of crafting photos that were destined for the proverbial waste bin. But then something happened. I woke up. I saw the reality of our world in these tough times and, after spiralling down to a great depth I rose up and no longer needed the smiles.
My creativity became more than photos. Yes I still use a camera to create my work but the tools really don’t matter, it’s the process that counts. I don’t seek the smiles. I don’t ask the hills to look happy for me.
Finding My Muse
We sit together in our truth those hills and I and when I feel the depth of them I gather up those feelings in my camera and tenderly take them home to share as a blessing to our Earth and as a nurturing connection for those who care to see.
Now I’m finding a real beauty in my art, a beauty that has melancholy dancing around the edges, a beauty that holds its own pain of these days and which reaches out into my heart and attaches deep within me.
Now I create my art for me, it’s my process and in doing so I’m able to share my connections with the raw, primal stuff out there with my audience. Of course I still work on commissions, but for clients who buy my vision rather than my mere ability to use a camera.
My creativity has finally come of age and has taken half a century to do so. Now as I look through my lens at that tender new beech leaf dripping with fresh rain and reaching out with unspoken words I know I’ve come home to my craft. The land and her progeny speak with me and now I hear.
It’s a beautiful thing.