I had my best year of creativity with my photography in 2011, fourteen years after buying my first SLR camera. Photoshop played an extensive part in that creativity, even though I once swore I would never go down the photo manipulation route. How minds and imaginations change, eh? That year I had the great (read stupid) idea of taking at least one photograph a day, downloading it to my computer, processing it and then uploading it to Redbubble on that same day. Every day. For a year.
“That’s been done before!” I hear you cry. Yes, it has, but not by me, and not, I think, with maybe 90% of the images being heavily Photoshopped. Those artists (yes, I believe photography to be an art form, not just something to document things. It takes skill and practice to become a half decent photographer and a good eye is needed to become a brilliant one, no matter what all the Smartphone manufacturers say) who decide to do the 365 (or Mega-Series as I called it) all have different reasons for their particular venture, some artistic, some personal, some for other reasons entirely. My reasons were both personal and artistic. Personal because I wanted to stay in love with creating images and photography in general, because a family bereavment almost killed my love for anything, except my wife and kids.
Two weeks before Christmas 2010 my mother died suddenly from a heart attack, leaving a massive void in all her children’s lives, as well as her many friends. All my creativity leaked from me, just as if someone had cut an artery to watch it bleed out. I didn’t even want to look at my camera, let alone take any pictures with it. I told my wife I was going to sell my kit.
That’s when she said something that made me sit up and think. She told me what I should have realised without it being pointed out to me, which was that my mum would have told me to grow up and stop being such a misery (my mum would have used slightly more colourful language, but nothing too awful!) and carry on doing what I love doing.
As well as trying to rekindle my love for photography, artistically I wanted to push myself and use more imagination in my imagery. At first I was just going to use every day objects and places to try and stretch my creativity (I keep using that word. Where’s my thesaurus?), but that lead – pretty quickly – to the use of textures, Photoshop filters and manipulation to give my images a little bit of…something (especially the rushed, last minute shots that should have been binned. ). There’s only so many shots of keys and pencils you can do before you want to tear your hair out, so I started taking self portraits as well as pics of my wife and children to get my daily pic quota. That alone stretched my imagination, thinking of different expressions for the same face. My face at that!
Many times I wanted to just not bother with it, but I would think about the underlying reason for this silly venture and realise (perhaps wrongly) that I’d be letting my mum down if I quit. Then, at some point, I didn’t want to let myself down either and those moments only served to push me on and gave me the encouragement I needed to continue.
Creativity (that word again), on occasion, deserted me and the pic-of-the-day would be pretty pitiful, but on December 31st, 2010, I took, downloaded, processed and uploaded the 365th image of a year long project that saved my…yes, you’ve guessed it…creativity. And it felt good.