Exposed! :: Imagination: The most valuable photography tool!

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Cameras are wonderful tools. Film, digital sensors, filters & photoshop are fabulous additions to our photo toolbox. The one creative tool that we often ignore is our own self. No manufactured equipment can provide imagination or creativity like the equipment we naturally possess! In this edition we explore the most primary photo tool in visual art - imagination.

Imagination monsters

So, how do you get more imagination? If only it was that simple! Students have often told me: "...but I am not very creative" or "I am not artistic - I have no imagination". Everybody has imagination and creativity in their veins! Often, we suppress our creativity because we are conditioned to follow a routine or are shy to experiment with crazy ideas! Phooey! Imagination starts with an open mind! Ignore the "you can't do that!" monsters in your creative process.

Once your creative mind is consciously open to ideas, including "crazy" ones, your imagination is ready to work. Ideally, your imagination juices will always be flowing. You will always be ready for the strike of creative lightning. The hard part, for many people, is to react to or recognize the imagination process.

Pro Perspective

Many people have heard of scientists being struck by their incredible theories in the shower. Realistically, these scientists (and commercial artists, writers, engineers, etc.) are professional creative people. The reason they are struck by their ideas in the shower is that they have trained themselves to be receptive to their imaginations all the time.

I am a stock photographer. The most important tool for my business is my imagination. I try to be open to ideas all the time. In the picture at right I captured an unusual golf shot. This idea struck me when I least expected it. After a little prep work arranging the props and booking a model this shot was easy. The technical shooting took only 10 minutes!

This week I was in a store and saw a man with thick glasses talking to a friend. I noticed the effect of the thick lenses on his face. I walked past him in the opposite direction and caught a micro-glimpse of the world through his glasses - How different everything appeared! This got me thinking about how I could use thick glasses to capture some interesting pictures! The sparks of imagination have blossomed and may develop into stunning photos.

None of my camera equipment created these ideas. The equipment only puts the idea into a tangible form. That's the easy part!


This edition's homework is simple but challenging. Go, by yourself, to a place where you spend a lot of time - your office, the kitchen, family room. Get comfortable. For 1 hour (and not a minute less!) be in that room just to be there. No reading. No radio. No tv. No kids. No interruptions. Sit. Stand. Lie down. Look. Smell. Listen. Notice details. Wonder. Be curious. Ask why. Keep your thoughts in the room - your mind will wander away to your life - bring it back to this exercise.

What happens? It will be difficult to stay focused. At the end of your hour you must create some photo art based on your experience. That may be a photo of your kitchen sink with a new creative perspective or a series of photos in New York City based on some new insights inspired by your imagination hour in the kitchen.

Final Frame

No store can sell you imagination. If you want better pictures invest in your imagination and creativity first!

Take photos. Have fun!


Samples of our work