I stumbled upon a wonderful quote about creativity when I was reading a book about waiting. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitation.” – Orson Welles. I instantly related to this quote and how it affected my photography through analysis paralysis.
We live in a time of wonderful abundance. An era where if you have the means you can own almost anything. We live in a time where people keep creating things to make our lives easier, faster and more instant. With this abundance of choice our first obstacle isn’t starting something but rather how should we proceed.
I used to be paralysed by gear choices. I would spend hours wasting time thinking and choosing what gear to use. Time wasted where I could have been creating, experimenting and learning. Gear is great and gear makes our lives and photography better. But there comes a point when we accumulate too much of it. We lose that struggle that helps creativity. All you need to write a novel is a pen and some paper. Want to sing a song, all you need is your voice. Why can’t this be the same for photography? I want to take photos, all I should need and want is a camera.
I keep thinking about The Wright brothers and how they were the first people to invent flight. It takes them nearly a decade of tries and fails, experiments and iterations, and they had limited resources. But in opposition, there was Samuel P. Langley who was funded by the government to invent the flying machine. He had an abundance of materials and the best and brightest at his disposal. Endless choices and wealth does not guaranty success. In contrast limited money, material, restrictions, countless failed and iterations the Wright brothers prevailed. This reinforces the quote about how the enemy of creativity is abundance and having endless limitations.
It’s only by limiting yourself and putting up walls that force you to think creatively. When you have limitations it gives you something to push, pull and bend at. Limitations force you to struggle with how fare you can take something with limited resources. The less you have, the more creative you have to be with what you already have. So don’t get annoyed that you don’t have that lens or a specific type of gear. Embrace that fact that now you have a chance to challenge yourself and come up with ways to work around your lack of resources. “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Brendan Francis Behan.
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