Chuck Close On Creativity

The next few words I’m going to write will sound like blasphemy to some photographers, but I’m going to write them anyway. Here goes: It seems to me that the best photographs are as much about ideas as they are about execution. By that I mean, it’s the content that matters most. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the trappings of technique and equipment—and let’s face it, it can also be downright fun. But to a certain extent, all of these things can get in the way of what we photographers are supposed to be doing: making pictures. I have been kicking around this idea for a long while now, but it was only when reading a recent post at the wonderful Brain Pickings blog that I read some quotes from the painter Chuck Close that really galvanized these thoughts for me. Close puts it simply: "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." I think that translates for photographers into something along the lines of, "Let’s not worry so much about how, and let’s just concentrate on doing." As Nike’s ad agency so beautifully put it, "Just do it." Work begets work, creating leads to creativity. So the next time you’re feeling like something—anything—is getting in the way of making photographs, forget it. And just get to work. (For more from the Chuck Close interview, as well as conversations with many other phenomenal artists, follow the link to Brain Pickings where you can pick up the book from which Close’s quotes came: Inside the Painter’s Studio, by Joe Fig. Looks like a wonderful and inspirational read, even for us photographers.)

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