You don’t have to dig hard and deep to find simple everyday no big deal creativity things around you to experiment with. You are surrounded all the time by unseen things everywhere.
Try to not see what you see, but how it can be seen. And you will soon find that there is a whole different world embedded into the ordinary reality. Not very strange or different at all sometimes, sometimes very strange and different, almost beyond recognition.
To experiment, without any boundaries or serious expectations is a great way to develop new influences and a way to take care of your inspiration. It’s a great way to develop your creativity in how you look at things and learn what to look for. A cellphone is a great tool to work with your photographic creativity, all photos in this post is done with one.
Experimental creativity transforms your way to think and open up closed, or even hidden doors in your mind. There is only one important rule in this game – to become and be like a curious child. Because this child is your real master.
About what I have to say about what I say in this case. There are basically two ways to play with your creativity. Optical or technical. By optical I mean raw as it is. Focusing on finding new ways to see and think through the lens. This is the hardest, because this is a process that easily get forced and pushed into a serious hunt whiteout any clowns.
Right mood is a nice companion when doing this. If you don’t find it. Just try to go very simple and don’t take the search to seriously. Aim for simplicity and just shoot without thinking to much – it don’t have to be something that goes “wow” immediately. Sooner or later the images will find you.
The technical way is the post processing treatment with an editor as creative playground. Or, maybe go crazy extreme with the camera settings. I often find that some not so very impressive photos from sessions when I have played with my camera hide clues of new seeds when I start to work with them (or old photos that have survived the kill). So don’t throw away your shitty photos at first glimpse. Let them stay for a while and see if you can grow something.
Whatever how, in this space you shall not give yourself any rules of right or wrong, no matter what grounded values your philosophy is made of.
You may be hard on strict rules to not do any heavy post editing that changes the photos to much beyond recognition as possible. Because you want to be true to yourself and the audience. That you are a serious real photographer who take pictures of the real world as seen.
This is not about being true to the real world as we see it from the more regular and ordinary perspective. This is about developing how to see beyond the ordinary and challenge the reality. Searching for emotions. Looking for the subconscious language. Finding the extraordinary and strange perspectives that challenge the mind. To develop your imagination and don’t get stuck in fixed patterns of what you already know and do. A gift to your crazy creative and curious inner child. Which I personally think is just as, or more, important to embrace and incorporate into your ordinary reality.
Sometimes you will be surprised how strange and beautiful the reality can be by itself without barely any editing at all (but almost always needed at some level to nail that final yes). Finding unknown and unseen details and perspectives of life is like finding the soul of reality.
And sometimes you will be surprised of what hides inside a copy of reality when you tweak it a little more beyond the ordinary. Even an almost invisible meaningless image can suddenly change radically into something totally different. Get rid of the forced need about technical quality of the photo and tweak. Leave the perfectionist outside.
Personally I don’t see anything wrong in this kind of treatment. I prefer to call it treatment rather than manipulation because every photo is sort of already manipulated from when the first light photon hits the image processor, or analog film as well.
In my point of view, obvious manipulation is no big deal either, because if it’s obvious, it’s meant to be so. But if you try to lie to tell a different story and hide the truth, you are cheating and manipulating your audience (and yourself).
Don’t be afraid of heavy treatment or using filters that mashup the photos from time to time – embrace it and explore what you can do. Sometimes I just do it but don’t use it, just to see what I can do and find out what I am searching for. And sometimes I walk through the barricades and aim for a really screwed up final touch. Just because I can.
But in a more photographic behaviour point of view. The most useful and practical solution to develop an intuitive and creative relationship with your photographic imagination is to use the camera, a lot, and not get stuck in to much editing and thinking. In the end, what you catch in your camera is what matters.