I Get By . . .

….with a little help from my friends.” –or so sang the Beatles. And it’s true, at least for some of us.

Recently, I was working on a photographic project that I had planned for nearly a year. Evidently the planning was not sufficient because I was getting nowhere. I was doing what I had planned, using the images had shot specifically for the project, and found the results completely unsatisfying. I had hit a wall. Then I mentioned the problem to a friend who has given me the occasional excellent idea, expecting nothing more than being able to talk it out, hoping that discussing it would provide some insight, as sometimes happened. My friend, who is not a photographer but has a keen visual sense, asked me to describe exactly what I was trying to do, which I did.

“Oh,” they said. “I see the problem.” and then proceeded to make a very concrete suggestion, remarkable really, since they had not seen anything of the work. What was more remarkable was that I instantly saw the possibilities in the suggestion. The idea was essentially to shift the focal point of the image, and there were other specific suggestions. So I set to work, attempting to implement the idea, never doubting for a second that it would work. What I discovered was that the details as they had been given could not be directly implemented because the images with which I was working would not cooperate, but the concept was still valid. And, I could get very close to the full implementation of the idea.

The wall that had been blocking me fell away. I examined the images from the shoot with new eyes and immediately discovered seven possibilities. As soon as I brought them into the project, everything changed. I began to see potential everywhere. Well, not quite everywhere; one possibility did not make the cut, but six remained. I worked on those, cropping here, adjusting there. Finally I had six potential images for the project—a great problem to have. I had not followed the suggestion of my friend literally, but instead generalized their idea and then made it my own, which resulted in the six possibilities.

At present, I have cut the six down to three, finding that some were more successful than others. The final cut should be made within the coming week. I am more than satisfied with the way the project is proceeding.

Again I must note that my friend never saw the work in question. Everything was conceptual and verbal. Still, they were able to give me ideas that kick-started my creative impulse by providing a different direction that I was not able to see for myself unaided. I took it from there. I cannot see this as a failure on my part; rather, I consider it the utilization of a resource. Even if the friend had not provided this excellent shift in direction, I would have been able to talk through the block, and perhaps arrive at my own answer. Whatever the case, having a friend or colleague in whom we can confide and talk out creative problems is valuable beyond measure, a relationship to be treasured.


Note: I have not discussed the specifics of the project here because (1) this is, or can be, a generic problem in the creative process and because (2) I presume that every reader will supply their own interpretation and example.

Date: Sunday, 24. October 2021 20:48
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity, Photography

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