We cannot talk about creativity without discussing the humble tomato.
It is red. But sometimes it is yellow.
Round. But sometimes oblong.
Filled with seeds.
You have an infinite number of ways to use that tomato.
You could dice it for a salad or slice it for a burger. You could make ketchup or spaghetti sauce. You could put it in a soup or eat it raw with just a smidge of salt. You could dehydrate it or roast it, boil or broast it. I think you get the idea.
But let’s just say, you have no plans to cook it. Instead, you want to photograph the tomato.
When you photograph it you also face an infinite list of possibilities.
Which would be easier for you? Cooking the tomato or photographing the tomato?
So, what did you decide?
If you chose cooking the tomato, I want you to consider your answer.
My guess is that you chose cooking for some very specific reasons. Namely experience and practice.
Chances are you’ve been cooking for a very long time. Perhaps you watched a parent or grandparent prepare food in the kitchen. Perhaps you took a class or two. Perhaps you subscribe to cooking magazines. You probably own a few cookbooks. I bet you even eat.
All of those activities give you experience and practice with the humble tomato. When you select one from the market, you don’t worry about how you are going to use it or what other people might think about your tomato usage.
In fact, you’ve played with your tomatoes.
Perhaps over a pot of bubbling sauce, you thought, “what if I add just a tad more oregano this time.”
You got creative. You got creative because you knew that tomato well.
You experimented. You asked the question, “what happens when.”
You, my friend, are creative.
You simply need to transfer your tomato skills to your camera. Because photographing that tomato isn’t so different than cooking that tomato.
You might start by photographing the tomato on the vine. It’s natural habit. It’s expected place. But what if you picked it from the vine and carried it somewhere else. And then you chose to photograph it from above and from eye level and from below.
Which one is right, you might ask.
All of them.
What happens when…
What happens when you cut it open and let it’s juices ooze out onto the table or a cutting board or a plate.
What happens when you slice it and pair it with a slice of bread. What if you throw it in a pan and photograph it as it transforms into dinner.
That’s where your creativity begins to happen.
And even when you know fifty ways to cook a tomato you realize there are at least fifty more. And that excites you and sometimes overwhelms you and sometimes peeks your curiosity.
Creativity and curiosity live hand in hand. One feeds the other. One pulls you into places you haven’t considered.
And then, just like cooking, you watch. You ask questions. You read. You take classes. You experiment. You play.
That is where creativity comes from. No one has any special gift you weren’t given. They have practice and patience and curiosity and a little more time with tomatoes.