This winter I'm slated to give a talk to a group of medical professionals on connecting and creativity, so naturally I've already begun to ruminate on it. And, more naturally still, it allowed my mind to wander about, much as my feet do, exploring my own sources of creativity and pathways of connection. All roads lead to Rome, they say, but mine usually have me ending up here at the studio, my sanctuary. Or at a good coffee shop.
We all need these places, wherever they may be. In the past it was usually the darkroom for me, and I've posted here before about it's charms, even a task as straightforward as loading film for developing. I kid you not. I can still imagine it, still feel it: my thumbnail slicing open the paper tab holding back the exposed film on a 120 roll, and the cold sheen as it wound onto the stainless steel reel. Seems like no big deal, I probably did it a million times, but it was somehow always transcendent. It was meditation, it was morning vespers. It got the creative juices flowing. The act of photography is being alive and awake in the moment; the process afterwards, whether in the darkroom or at the computer, is its revelation. It is pure joy.
But let's not get all new-agey and smarmy here. There's no magic involved, and I'm certainly no mystic. I'm as susceptible to diversions and dissipations as the best of them, honestly. Photographers, and artists generally, tend in that direction anyway, so best to have fun with it. But in my daily encounters and photography workshops I meet people who are ardently seeking their own wellsprings of creativity, and believe it may come from improving their technique or their equipment. There may be a little truth in that, but I suspect it's much simpler than that, so simple it's easily overlooked. Find that quiet place and carry it with you, is what I like to tell them. Point your camera. Say cheese and smile. Don't worry if at first you don't find your voice, because it will eventually find you.
And a nice little coffee shop is always a good place to start.