How using your body helps in the creative process
Hi everyone. I recently read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. You need to read this great little book. There’s a part of the book that struck a cord for me at that moment. Here’s how that relates to me and using your body in the creative process.
Let me begin by saying I don’t feel like a pure artist. I actually feel a little uncomfortable with an artist as a title. That may be what I’m striving for, and I try to bring artistry to my everyday. To be an artist? I’m not sure if that’s me. Perhaps in a life of eternal learning, I won’t ever truly reach that place, from my point of view.
Let me give you the quote from the book that sparked the whole thinking and you can see how it feels for you…
Just watch someone at their computer. They’re so still, so immobile. You don’t need a scientific study (of which there are a few) to tell you that sitting in front of a computer all day is killing you, and killing your work. We need to move, to feel like we’re making something with our bodies, not just our heads.
Work that only comes from the head isn’t any good. Watch a great musician play a show. Watch a great leader give a speech. You’ll see what I mean. You need to find a way to bring your body into your work. Our nerves aren’t a one-way street—our bodies can tell our brains as much as our brains tell our bodies. You know that phrase, “going through the motions”? That’s what’s so great about creative work:
If we just start going through the motions, if we strum a guitar, or shuffle sticky notes around a conference table, or start kneading clay, the motion kickstarts our brain into thinking.
I began to look at the work I’d created and what had driven or hindered me in the process. I’m no athlete, I am an action guy. What I mean is, I like to physically move in my work. The blood flows, energy builds and my mind gets sharper.
How is using your body relevant to food photography?
Many people shooting still life, products, food and lots of stuff, use a tripod. Tripods are aces, they really are. You have to have one, preferably a good one. Clamping my camera on a tripod, immediately my action is limited. I feel the volume gets turned down, my energy takes a bit of a dip. I love to shoot handheld. The movement of working the scene, using your body to hunt down the crop, angle and glint of light, I believe, is a requirement for my kind of work.
I’ve created work where I’m locked on a tripod. With a fixed scene, we’re basically styling what’s in front of the camera. There’s some movement in that, but not enough to sustain me for hours of working. Perhaps that’s why my blog posting is hit and miss. I don’t like to tether myself to a computer to write. This is also why I’m seriously considering vlogging and building my YouTube channel. I’ll be actively engaged and properly out of my comfort zone I might add.
Movement is key
I believe physical movement actively gets my creative juices flowing. I’ve read many books and heard tons of interviews from Tony Robbins, Chase Jarvis, Marie Forleo and so many more. They all talk about exercise to get your day started. Exercise is physical movement. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when I read this in Steal Like An Artist. I realise using my body, moving, really engaging me to my work, makes me better at what I do. Raising my creativity and opening up the opportunity to create in a new way, maybe discovering something that excites me.
Doing creates more action. Action creates more doing
The cool thing is, we’re all different. We all feel comfortable at different levels. My way of working has certainly developed skills I may not have otherwise practised. Flash photography allows me to shoot at lower ISO and stay handheld. On many occasions, I handhold at slow shutter speeds. I’m ok shooting at 1/30 sec in some situations. I know that image stabilisation is a big thing for me. For tripod users, it’s not something they take advantage of. (That just reminded me, there’s a post in that)
Striving to get as close to the shot I want in the camera is huge for me. Here’s why…
- I do not want to spend hours in front of my computer editing.
- It’s a buzz to push my skills and see how good I am or what needs improvement.
- Photography is a craft which comes from deep inside me. This need will never be satisfied by sitting at my computer fixing in post. That need is only met by using your body, mind, spirit and wits to get the shots.
Being mindful and recognising what makes us tick, what sparks our own creativity is a gift that never stops giving. Self-awareness isn’t some pixies and fairy dust woo woo. It’s the key to everything you want to achieve.
What makes you tick?
I recommend you pick up a copy of Steal Like An Artist and do more than that. Take a look at how you’re wired. What are some of the keys to your creativity? Delve in, have a good mooch about and see what you discover.
I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts on this.