5 Ways To Upgrade Your Creativity in 2018


“Great art picks up where Nature ends.”     – Marc Chagall


5 Ways to Upgrade Your Creativity in 2018


1) Purchase a yearlong calendar and plan your creative year.

Buy a month by month calendar that displays beautiful, inspiring photographs. As you flip through the scenes consider what creative goals you would like to work toward this year. Would you like to travel to places you have never been and record new sights? Are you interested in working with night time photography? Would you like to record every sunset for an entire summer? Are there skills you need to develop or improve to attain these goals?

Once you have determined your goals, break them down into small manageable pieces. Do you need to purchase supplies, adjust your schedule, obtain education or coordinate with others in order to make things happen? Set a time table to achieve each of these pieces and use the calendar to mark down your “Complete By” dates.

For example – If you need to purchase an art tool, break the cost into monthly increments. Mark your calendar to save that amount each month. Set your Completion Date for the purchase and mark that date as well. Once the tool has been purchased, mark your calendar with the dates you will use it.

You might decide you would like to photograph every full moon for the entire year. Use your calendar to record the full moon rise time and dates. Plan your schedule to be available at those times. Decide what location would be best to shoot from and list that information as well.

Remember the age-old axiom, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


2) Be In the Now

After all of this far ahead planning, you must remember to Be In the Now.

We can only live life in the present, but because the world runs at warp speed with so many things going on all at once, we miss much of it. A customer once asked me where a photo was taken. When I told him he said, “I drive past there every day and have never seen that.”

Today’s accepted focus is multitasking. We try to accomplish three times the chores in half the time. Haven’t we all seen the person driving down the highway while talking on the phone and eating a sandwich? Did they even taste the food?

We must learn to turn off the “autopilot” setting of our life, slow down a bit and PAY ATTENTION to what is going on right NOW. Once we slow down enough to perceive our surroundings, we suddenly notice the striking way the sun highlights those simple trees we drive past every day.

3) Learn Something New

When we do the same thing the same way every day what happens? We take things for granted. We get stuck in a rut. We stop growing. We lose our creativity. How can we become a better artist if we never challenge ourselves to improve by learning a new technique, changing our tools or experimenting with new methods?

Stimulate creativity by learning something new. Try traveling a different route to and from work. Go driving in the countryside and take random turns down side roads to see where they lead. Have you always used Lightroom to process your images? Experiment with On1 Raw or Photoshop instead. Have you always used a three light set-up in the studio? What can you do with only one light? Shoot twenty photos of a coffee mug that are all different. By number twenty I guarantee you’ll be getting creative!


4) Let Go of Negativity

Have you ever said, “I can’t do that?” I bet you have.

The problem is, when you say, “I can’t do that,” you are self-sabotaging. You are taking careful aim and shooting down your creative goals before they even have a chance to blossom.

I’m telling you Of Course You Can!

The first time you try something you may not be an expert, but how do you think the expert became one? Being an artist is about the ongoing process of creating art. There is a development curve involved. When you first begin your art it will look a certain way. After you’ve spent some time working it will become more polished. Every time you create you learn and grow. The only way to fail at creating art is to stop trying! Can you try? Of course you can!

Another potential pitfall with negativity… other people. Who in your life is whispering into your ear that you won’t succeed? Maybe they don’t whisper, but say it directly to your face or in front of all your friends? Have you been told, “You can’t do that?”

Don’t listen to them! Let go of or avoid anyone who tells you that you can’t accomplish your goals. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who encourage you to be your best.


5) Revamp Your Space

When you walk into your creative space it should make you sing with joy. It should support and stimulate your creative juices. The space should say to you, “Create something!” It should not make you feel tired, overwhelmed or leave you thinking, “Geeze, I really need to clean up this mess.”

If your space is cluttered, clean and organize it. If it is dark, add lights. Fill the space with things that inspire you to create. Hang some photos of your creative heroes. Post some beautiful images you admire and wish to emulate. It is not about getting it “right” because there is no “right” way to design this space. It is all about customizing a work space that inspires you to do your best creative work.


Apply these five creativity basics and make 2018 your New Year to Create!

Fog Jog


After a morning out making images in the fog.  Mostly soaked to the skin but energized by the creative energy that was still flowing through me. I crossed a bike trail where a jogger waited for my car to get out of his way.  A quick glance down the trail was all I could get as I was going about 50 mph when I came upon the cross over. But it was enough to see the fog and knowing that an image was in the making, I started looking for a place to park.  Finding a pull off about 1/4 mile up the road…..there were now 2 joggers. One on the trail and one with a camera and tripod running for the trail.   This image is the convergence of those two joggers on the trail.
This is the reason that I never put the camera away until I pull into the driveway at home. Even when I think that I am finished for the day, I leave the camera out on the seat beside  me.  I never know what opportunity will present itself along the road and I want to be ready to capture what ever might appear.
I  used this  image as a Lightroom demonstration in my Thursday night class.  Fog and mist are very soft and ethereal and need to be handled very gently.  Save some detail and at the same time preserve the feeling of the experience.  A fine line to balance.

Snowy Lane

With all the snow we received yesterday (6″+), I decided to take a walk. It turned out to be about two miles and several photos. Really very pretty, but at 6* cold enough to hurt after a while. This is one of the side roads that I crossed at dusk.  Enjoy and stay warm.

To purchase a print of this image

Long Straight Road

On a field trip to the “Land Of Tall Churches”
I ran across this road scene.
It reminds me of growing up in a flat, rural
area of Ohio.
When I learned to drive it was on roads like these.
Long, flat, straight, and with almost no traffic.
Only those who lived on these roads were there.
At night, you could see for miles and miles.
On a clear night I could sometimes see the lights
of Indiana in the distance.

Of course, with roads like these, the
temptation to drive a bit fast
( mostly over 100 mph)
was just too much to resist.
As I look down this road, I can see the
tire marks from the kids that are
still driving the way we once did.

Some things never change.
The need for speed is ageless.

Some things do change.
My web site for one. I have just finished
up dating it with some new photos
and adding descriptions for all the art.
Check it out if you have a minute:
Don’t forget to sign up for my news letter
while you are there.