Emotion and creativity: do you “feel” creative?
What does emotion have to do with creativity. Well, probably a whole lot.
“Experiencing sadness and anger can make you feel more creative, and by being creative you can get beyond your pain or negativity.”
Yoko Ono is right.
I have been going through a lot of sadness and anger recently. My camera and my guitar helped me with my pain.
As a Swiss, I am naturally reserved. Yes, this is a major stereotype. Regardless, I keep my emotions typically under wraps. So, if my emotions do come out, it is typically through my art. In spite of that, I most often mute them.
Purpose: evoking emotion
My purpose for getting into photography was to capture the beauty around us. “Beauty” may include landscapes, or everyday mundane items. To accomplish this, I often choose a minimalistic approach. In my composition, my subjects and my color choices.
But I wonder sometimes if I have been too focused on technicalities. And whether I forgot about the emotion.
What is certain is that I have been way too focused on the gear aspects of photography, for far too long. It goes without saying that gear distracts from the core of art. It distracts from telling a story and evoking an emotion.
Regardless of my personal purpose, I think overall, telling a story and evoking some sort of emotion is quintessential for artists. It’s at the core of what we do.
Intention: tell a story to evoke emotion
As much as I love improvisation and spontaneity, I think all good art requires intention. I have been improvising as a musician since I was a teenager (= a long time!). Improvisation in music, in visual arts and in other art forms is not that much different. It requires some sort of base technique, and some experimentation, and in some ways a lot of trial and error. It also requires to be in the moment, and to respond. And in a way, there is definitely spiritual component to music (creation) and visual art (creation). But I digress …
Does intention or intentionality kill emotion of photographs or art in general? I don’t think so. Telling a story with intention can evoke powerful emotions. It may seem that intention and mindfulness may negatively impact creativity or spontaneity. But good art is made with intention. Almost always.
There are many examples, some of which I talked about, on tools and techniques on how to evoke emotion. For example, the choice of colors. The composition of the image. The contrast (or lack of thereof). The lighting. And so forth.
Examples with annotation
The examples below are by no means great examples of photographs that evoke emotion. But these are photographs where I tried to deliberately evoke some emotion. I will elaborate further below each image.
An image from an old warehouse building. I see neglect, and somewhat sadness in it. The bottom left panel almost looks like water / tears running down. The upper right window panel shows brokenness. And dirt shows neglect.
Another image from the same building, actually taken on the same day. The juxtaposition of the peace sign drawn on the neglected window panel is perhaps funny (?), but mostly to me a sign of hope and maybe also rebellion.
Perhaps not an emotional picture per se. The bright (high key) tonality, and the minimal composition are may tell a story of joyful piano playing (?). I connect this also with spirituality, which perhaps is accentuated by the “ethereal” quality of some of the image.
A somber minimalistic display of the detail of the guitar instrument, in particular the guitar string and in this case, two guitar frets. Often, it is not recommended to block a composition like I did here. But somehow it works (I think) as it stops the eye at the string. Also the point of sharpest focus.
Golden hour image with multiple sun stars. To me, this evokes, again hope. The yellows do or can represent energy / warmth.
I called this image “broken”. It pretty much summarized my feelings a couple of weeks ago. The cool colors (blue, teal, browns) do match the image name and feeling in my opinion.
A letter from my daughter. Again, this may not evoke any emotion in the viewer. But it does to me. The strong backlight with flare again has an ethereal quality and does evoke hope. Perhaps also loneliness.
This one I call “writers block”. This is a pretty literal depiction (I think). The emotions are: frustration, possibly anger.
Just my 2 cents 😉
VIDEO: Here comes the sun
Try to watch with sound on, and see what emotion it evokes. Music is a key element in motion story telling. This is a simple time lapse (a motion video composed of multiple still images) of a “regular” sunrise a few weeks ago.