3 Steps for Harnessing Inspiration in Your Creative Process
When I was growing up, my childhood bestie (and best friend of nearly 30 years) had an infatuation with Winnie the Pooh that I could never fully understand. In middle school, she carried a Pooh-themed diaper bag as a purse, because that’s what you do when you’re just dipping your toes into your own individuality--and she wore it proudly. I always admired her conviction of things. But as it was, you might say that my older influences had me prematurely “outgrow” anything that might have been considered “juvenile” in order to avoid any consequential heckling from my two, older, rough and tumble brothers. But time is a funny thing, and as it would have it, even things you once couldn’t understand can become nostalgic when given enough of it.
When the movie “Christopher Robin” came out, I immediately thought of my sweet friend. Though, to my greatest surprise I found it impacted and inspired me on so many levels, that I wonder how this was so sorely bypassed in my youth! I mean, how did I not see Pooh’s wisdom? I suppose my gray hairs have lent me the ability to hear the profound intertwined with the simple, because some of the quotes brought my whole house of cards tumbling down... and those are the moments when I know a new image is being birthed. A lot of what I create comes very simply from the shaking--the moments that God brings the cards down and clears my line of sight. It’s the pain and discomfort of the labor that births forth a beautiful story to tell. This is how I cultivate my creative process. These are my 3 steps to harnessing inspiration in your creative process and photography:
Step 1: Recognizing your houses of cards.
Now, you may be thinking I’m nuts. It’s all good--I’m learning to own it. But hear me out. We’ve all developed little houses of cards--and by that, I mean fragile little ways of thinking that aren’t built from solid wholehearted thought patterns. Nope. These fragile structures are toxic ways of thinking that are built on lies or false beliefs that come about often because of pain or disappointment. Most of the time, we don’t know they are there until the truth begins to shake underneath them. You’ve felt it. It feels like resonance; waves of truth that amplify and reverberate deep within your soul when you hear them. Learn to be sensitive to those.
Step 2: Let the cards fall.
So many people are scared or even paralyzed when the cards fall, because where do you go from there? But I’m here to tell you, let them fall! Let every last wrong way of thinking come down. Sure it’s unsettling and I am no stranger to it. But when that big fragile structure is leveled...you’ve just cleared your line of sight. You now have a new foundation from which to build truth upon. You take that wrong way of thinking, identify what the truth is, and now you have a story to tell.
Step 3: Tell the story
Now that you’ve identified your shifty house, weathered the storm, and endured the discomfort of the cards falling...now you begin to tell your story. This is where the magic happens. This is where I begin to think of ways that I can symbolically represent a chapter of my story in a single image. What elements or props could you use to represent your chosen them? What body position, colors, or lack thereof would set the tone for the story you are telling? Think about ways that you can intertwine literal interpretations with symbolic ones. But tell your story.
In this piece, I wanted to show the sense of vulnerability, joy and melancholy of waiting for dreams to come to pass. I used the balloons to represent my many dreams, the color red to provoke a sense of strength in vulnerability and my daughter’s bear to represent my choice to approach my journey with child-like faith as I wait for my dreams to come to pass.
As I watched Christopher Robin, several parts struck me in profound ways, but among them is a part when Christopher Robin is trying to send Pooh back to the 100 acre wood in an attempt to protect his own house of cards per-sey. We all do it. It is only natural to act in self preservation when we feel the shaking. But embrace it. And as pooh steps into the doorway he is met by his disappointment of being sent away and having to face his journey potentially alone. Instead of walking away from those hard feelings, he embraces them, stops and waits. When Christopher Robin asks, “Pooh what are you doing”. Pooh responds, “ Sometimes when I’m going somewhere, I wait. And then a somewhere comes to me.” This is the moment when Christopher Robin chooses to embrace the shaking and let his cards fall. Upon entering the 100 acre wood, in the quest to find Pooh’s friends, they must overcome the fear of being lost--the same feeling we feel when our expectations have been leveled. Instead of becoming paralyzed in this place, they both choose to move through it, when Pooh offers this invitation...