So often we convince ourselves that we can’t create. We might have one—BIG!—reason. Or we might have a litany of reasons.
We think we’re too old (or too young). We think we don’t have the right traits or talents. We think we need certain supplies, which, of course, we don’t have. I need the right camera and lens before I get started! I need my own studio or at least my own desk. I need that one computer program. We think we need to live certain lives or have certain means. We think we need to have certain circumstances.
But are the obstacles that paralyze your creative process really there? Or are you building artificial barriers?
The book The Blind Photographer features images created by more than 50 visually impaired photographers. Beautiful, powerful images. You might assume that the first (and most important) requirement to be a photographer is vision. The ability to clearly see what you’re capturing. The ability to see the teeny tiny details of an object, the crumbs on a plate, the lines on a face. The ability to distinguish different colors and shadows. The ability to communicate precisely what you see.
Yet, it is not. Sight is not a prerequisite for producing a stunning, poignant image. Not at all.
Photographer Alberto Loranca describes his process in this way: “I can distinguish light and shadow and I pay a great deal of attention to light in order to take pictures; I calculate the amount of light needed using trigonometry. At one point I recalled analytic geometry lessons and thought that if I place the camera in a particular position in relation to the floor and the subject, I can imagine the angles in the shadows and that could help me. I simply deduce how you would see it without too many mathematic operations, and I think I have obtained good results.”
Photographer Evgen Bavcar says that all the images he creates “exist beforehand in my mind and are perceived by my third eye, that of the soul.”
He further notes, “Photography must belong to the blind, who in their daily existence have learned to become the masters of camera obscura. Camera obscura has existed for a long time; it is, for example, the concept of the cave in Plato’s philosophy and later the invention of the darkroom, which photographers entered blind: in the nineteenth century, the pioneers of photography would veil themselves and join the darkness in order to better control their image appearing on the sensitive plate.”
The obstacle or obstacles that seem like boulders sabotaging your creativity might actually be non-existent or small. What you currently perceive as a challenge or limitation might even serve as inspiration for your creation.
As Jorge Luis Borges wrote (an excerpt that appears in the afterword of The Blind Photographer): “A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end. This is even stronger in the case of the artist. Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one’s art. One must accept it. For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of heroes; humiliation, unhappiness, discord. Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so.”
What have you convinced yourself that you absolutely can’t create?
Are you sure?
P.S., For more inspiration, check out this exhibit of images by blind photographers.