Creativity and Productivity

Banff

I am spending quite some time lately reading about the concept of creativity.  In my last post I wrote about my response to an article I read wherein the author argued creativity starts with darkness, with a blank sheet of paper.  I have just finished reading another article where the author argued that creativity and productivity are different and are often confused with each other.  The question posed is whether or not an artist is being creative when he or she is productive?

This is particularly interesting to me because I believe that creativity is an incremental thing.  Although I am sure there are exceptions, I don’t believe it is the norm for people to wake up one morning and do something that is radically different from anything they have ever done before.  The same is true with photography. We don’t just magically start making new images that have no “stamp” of our former self embedded in them.  Every new image we create is incrementally different from the last image we created.  In this sense, every new image is a new creation and is a stepping stone in our creative lives.   In other words, I think we have to be productive in order to create.  I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive – they are part of the same process.

On a somewhat related note, I often hear photographers talk of being “in the zone”.  It’s the Eldorado of creativity.  A mythical place we seek and once discovered everything we create is powerful and is loaded with visual and metaphorical meaning.  Although I don’t think I have never been “in the zone”, I have certainly been in situations where the scene in front of me is so huge that it rushes emotional adrenaline through my body and the photographs I capture and images I create seem to more easily recreate both what I saw and felt.  Creativity and productivity, in this sense are one and the same.

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