Creativity vs. Curiosity: What to Focus on?
the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
a strong desire to know or learn something.
We are always looking for that “new” thing, an idea of some sort to bring into our work as photographers. Creativity is the key to getting great shots, but should we be focusing our efforts to be creative or should we focus more on being curious?
Creativity is available based on your tool kit. It is a combination of all the tools, methods, gimmicks, or looks that we have experienced and worked on before that we can use in a scene at every opportunity to convey our intent and imagination. There is so much pressure that comes with being creative, but coming up with original ideas or imagination is quite difficult at times. Sure we might be inspired when presented with a gorgeous couple, great venue, nice light, decor, and so on, but the fact is the true test of how creative you are is when you are presented with a not so interesting location. This now brings up the question, what do I know that I can use to make this more interesting? The truly great photographers can make good pictures even when presented with a subpar situation. Your creativity is limited to the tools and experiences that you have acquired.
What is missing in being creative is the precursor of creativity itself – curiosity. With curiosity comes the power of observation, which allows us to start questioning things starting with the word “why”. This then eventually becomes experimentations and learning which comes to new findings. Leonardo Da Vinci, considered by most as the greatest inventor of all time and known for his creativity in many fields, is also known of his power of observation. He would view the world with curiosity and wondered why the sound of the thunder travels longer than the actual occurrence for example. Without his curiosity, his inventions may not have been that impactful in the world.
A quick and simple example is the following: If you are not curious enough then you most likely would not be looking hard enough to find different vantage points to take photographs. Craig Fritz said in his previous article, “If a bunch of photographer have figured out the obvious way to shoot a picture is from x location, find another spot”. You as a photographer might just realize that this is something that everyone is doing, but you want to figure out how else to photograph this, and you just can’t find the answer. The big question is, are you looking hard enough, are you curious enough about how a scene would look like from different point of views? Can you still deliver the same message when you choose a completely different vantage point? None of these are going to be answered if you are not curious enough to look and see. More than 70% of the problems of creating a breakthrough is stemming from this lack of curiosity.
The application and effect of curiosity is much more important than creativity, because the approach combined with perseverance makes the great pictures.
Ultimately, curiosity is the mindset that successful, creative people have in common. Without the curiosity there is no will to learn and experiment, which leads to not having enough knowledge and experience to make your imagination become real in your pictures.
So it is clear. Creativity is the USE of the tools that you have acquired through your experiences, but developing a strong curiosity is what you need to approach everything with because THAT will give you your knowledge and tools.