As photographers, we should stop every now and then and review what we've been doing. It's so hard sometimes, to see any progression in what i'm doing, because i'm too close to it. Like someone who is unable to see traits in their own personality make up that all their friends and family only know too well, being an artist comes with the same issue: that of objectivity.
I'm not really suggesting that we become introverted and look within us, or like an accountant, make a very formal assessment of where we currently are in terms of how many good images we've made in the past year. Or how many competitions we've been successful in. I'm really talking about 'awareness'.
So objectivity - being able to see what you've really created, as opposed to what you 'think' you've created, comes from awareness. And awareness happens because we make a connection within ourselves - almost like a constant monitoring device, where we allow ourselves to be conscious of our creativity.
I'm certainly like that. I feel that I rarely (if at all) switch off from being in touch with 'who I am'. I think it's important to know who you are in terms of your artistic side, and for me, I think it comes very easily, because I've been doing art since I can remember, whether it was painting, drawing, music.... whatever, so I'm aware that I'm perhaps more in touch with 'who I am' as a creative person.
On my workshops these past few years now, I've had a lot of discussions with participants about this in one form or another. What I find striking is that many people find it hard to 'switch on' their creative side and they see a distinction between what they do for work and their photography pursuits. Accountants tell me they rarely get to be creative (I know a few creative accountants, so I beg to differ), and I have lots of people from technical backgrounds (IT, Engineering) who also express a feeling that what they do for a living forces them to think in a much more analytical way, and less in a creative way.
But I disagree with this. Many, without being 'aware' of it, are creative in their jobs. They have lateral thoughts, solve problems in a creative way. It's just that they don't realise that they are using that part of their creative mind, that I do when I'm in my 'creative mode' to make pictures.
I'm sure it's really that they haven't been practicing 'objectivity' and 'awareness' in the same way that an arty-creative-type does.
So maybe, it's a form of practice.
Becoming more aware of where you're going with your photography comes from stopping a lot and looking at it, hopefully in an objective way. Feeling where to go next, comes from a sense of intuition which I believe only comes because we question ourselves and even though we don't have any firm answers, opens up new possibilities in the process.
So if I were to give you a directive for a better creative life, it would consist of two things - objectivity and awareness. Be aware of what you're doing, even in your day time job, be aware of your decisions and the times when you find yourself lost in a solution. This is no different from those moments when we're 'lost' for a few hours behind a camera employing 'vision'. Objectivity is the practice of looking back at what you've done and what you're doing, almost from a 3rd-person perspective, and realising what it is you're doing best and maybe which artistic direction you now need to take.