Creativity and Intentions for Artists and Makers

Everything we observe serves as a creators map, we choose a road and follow it, as we go, we discover our true intentions along the way.

Berlin Street Photography 2020, Sean P. Durham. Nollendorfplatz Ubahn

It’s the nature of creativity. We make choices from all the possibilities before us, and walk along a chosen path that might just take us somewhere intriguing.

Artistic intention is the basis of our motivation. The stronger the intention, the more fun, enjoyment, and confidence we will have in our endeavours of making art.

I’m always making choices about what I want to do next. If I have writing to do, I’ll focus by making notes. This helps me to drill down into the nitty gritty of my subject. It helps me to develop a creative intention.

If I want to do creative photography, just for the hell of creating, working, and finishing something satisfying, then I’ll make a decision; Street photography, Still Life, or should I go out into the countryside and search for a dramatic landscape to traverse.

Often, it feels as if we are just following our nose. Artistic faith tells us that we must, at times, feel lost in order to rediscover the landscape. To understand how what we were looking at connects with our own heart.

Even when we have strong intention, we’ll have to dive-in, and lose ourselves in the work in order to find the end result. That means allow the feelings of indecisiveness to fluster our minds, to challenge our intentions.

To create something worth keeping, it must stem from the heart. It’s not our creative task to reflect the beliefs and values of somebody’s religion, or politics, it’s our task to interpret the world from our own viewpoint; it may, or may not, vibrate with someone else’s heart too. Connections.

Artists and makers can easily be caught up in mental conflict. This creates frustrations that seem like dead ends, energy wasting activities. But really, it’s all part and parcel of the creative process.

Creative people make connections. And then they continue to make new connections with each new link in the thought process. We have to roll with the punches.

To think about something is to isolate the idea so that we can focus on it, the creative process is to drive deeper and understand the idea. If you can understand something, it’s deeper aspects, then you can create something powerful from it. Something useful, and worthwhile to yourself and to other people.

It’s like discovering a secret.

Berlin Street Photography 2020, Sean P. Durham.
Image; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2022

When we work with images, as photographers, there is no use in verbal language; I’ve noticed that when I am working with a camera I become silent. I relate wholly and fully to the visual language going on in my mind. It’s enough for me to understand what I’m driving at when I create a composition.

It’s because of this separateness between verbal and visual language that we react with our emotions of joy, glee, wonder, and intrigue at visual concepts.

There is tension in the bow of a branch, a mystery in the blade of a grass, and how it lets us ‘see’ the wind. To enjoy these things, and not attempt to explain why we enjoy them, is plenty enough for us; to explain visual concepts of art, and the why, and what-for, and so on, is a path to madness.

It’s enough to know that human beings react to tension in nature, in music, and in ourselves.

Berlin Street Photography 2020, Sean P. Durham.
Image; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2019

In ourselves, we create artistic tension when we go out into the landscape with a strong intention. It’s then that we will find what we are looking for.

Intention is an idea that is taken further than words and developed into a simple visual concept that we might, or hope to meet on that way as we wander along the road of creative thought, camera in hand.

A strong visual intention puts us into the position where all the sum parts of our creative self can function in harmony, under positive tension as in a musical progression that seeks the resolution in the chord that gives us a moment of joy.

Thanks for reading, it’s always a blessing to hear your opinions and thoughts on photography, creativity, and how to make a good sauce out of our creative lives.