Photographic Creation and Transcendence

“It is impossible for a creator to separate from the creation.”

“It is impossible for a creator to separate from the creation.”

This article was originally published in December 2011. 

As photographers, we are grappling with the highest form of need—to self-actualise. It moves beyond satiating our material cravings. It even moves beyond the need for intellectual stimuli because we get that with books, television, music, conversation or through our regular jobs.

Most of us pursue photography because it gives us a method by which we can break out of our shells. It allows us to stop producing, at least for a little while, and concentrate our energies on creation instead. Unlike production, where one unit of something can be almost identical to another, the act of creation is fraught with risk. In creation, there is a general sense of direction but no knowledge of what to expect until the very end. Commitment is vital, because once the process starts, restarting is very expensive in many different ways. When the process is complete, it is impossible for a creator to separate from the creation, and must take responsibility for it.

As time passes and with some practice, the path to creation seems to become clearer. The photographs improve in quality. We become brave. Repeating the process gives us results similar to that which we have seen in our mind’s eye, when we first started out. Soon, we gain admiration from other creators for developing a certain ‘style’ in our photographs. With more practice, the similarities become stronger and our style more pronounced. Before long, we end up manufacturing images. The cycle of production begins once more. We find ourselves faced with the daunting prospect of breaking away yet again. How many times have we seen renowned practitioners suddenly moving away from the style of shooting that made them famous in the first place?

There are also those very few who make pictures with the intent of losing themselves in the gullies and bylanes of their minds, unmindful of any final destination or result. In that respect, photography is a meditative act… or a leap of faith. So may it be.

Tags: K Madhavan Pillai, better photography, Dec 2011,, K Madhavan Pillai Editor, how to break the monotony of routine, how to keep creativity alive, the art of photography, photography as a way of life