I just heard Gotye on the radio. I've been out of touch for some time, so I had no idea he was no.1 in the UK charts (like I keep track anyway!). But I found this video about the making of his album, and whether you like his music or not, I feel that the creative process he discusses in this is not too far away from how I work, and from how most creative people work. [vimeo:http://vimeo.com/26537415]
I've been saying for a while that creativity comes from many sources of inspiration. In Gotye's case, it seems he hears particular sound snippets which fire his imagination, and from that, he's able to bring something new to light.
I've heard authors get ideas based on the snippets of a conversation they hear on a train, bus, in public areas. Something jumps out at them, and it's that trigger, that is often the start of a new piece of work, or the change in direction of an existing piece of work.
I feel that's pretty much how photography is for me. I never have a definite plan of what it is I'm doing, from the onset to the middle bit and right through to the end, I never really know what it will be like until the work is completed (and even then, I'm never sure just when work is completed, or perhaps I just feel I've done enough, and should just let it be). Like Gotye, I respond to signs - patterns in the landscape, a curve of coast line, the feel of a place - I feel connected and I try to let myself be open as much as possible to suggestion. I think that creative people are in tune with this 'suggestion' through their intuition and the environment around them.
From watching Gotye's video, it's clear to me that he has no idea what the final outcome will be. He has a trust in himself to allow flexibility and let his creativity take him on a journey. This is vital. You have to set your creativity free in order to come up with something new and fresh.
I often see photographers on workshops with me beat themselves up about images that don't conform to what they intended. I just wonder if the 'what they intended' is a forced view, a restricted marker which stops creativity, and prevents them from developing and moving forward.