This is the first part in a series I call “Exploring My Creativity”. An examination of my creativity. Being an inspired individual, this is something I feel I must do to expand my thought process. As long as I can remember, I have been doing creative things. And it seems to grow more complex the older I get. At the start of 2018, I told myself I wanted to embrace the idea of “Concentration and not Validation”. To focus on what drives me to be creative and not seek out the instant gratification of social media. Let’s start with the strongest member of my creativity, Passion. Photography, model making, sculpting along with writing are my Passions.
It all started in the spring of 2018, while I visited the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle isle. I went there to photograph the spring flowers in bloom. Red, white and pink little beauties standing proud in the light. There was so much color and so many little pretties all over the conservatory grounds. After about an hour into shooting, I stopped and looked around. During that moment of silence, I heard myself say “I could do this all day long”. Loud and as clear as the sky is blue. I knew where it came from but what do I call it? It was something I have heard as long as I can remember. But it’s been so long since I heard it so clearly. It wasn’t until I got home and started looking at my images, that I realized it was my Passion speaking to me. It moved me so much, I started to question it. I came up with two short but complex questions.
1.What is Passion? (what does it mean to me?)
2. How has is changed your Life?
I spent countless hours pondering for answers to those questions. I struggled to clearly describe how I felt. How could I describe something that I had come to live with for so long? At one point, I felt it would have been easier to describe blue to a blind person. I found sharing these questions with others who I felt had passion in their lives. I was not looking for my definition of Passion in others but more to the point, finding others that felted the same as me. I had some of the most honest and enjoyable conversations with other creative people. It’s very interesting to hear how others describe their Passion. I want to share with you some definitions of Passion from other creative individuals I have met in my travels as well as how Passion has changed their lives.
Let’s start with Nick Malachowski. He’s a Lead Automotive Designer. I had the pleasure of working with him in 2016. Here’s his thoughts…
Passion is the enemy of fear. Fear prevents us from exploring the unknown, from being vulnerable, from uncovering the truth about us and about the world. Passion is the very act of pursuing those things.
There have been specific decisions in my life I have be faced with (quite recently in fact) where there was no guidebook to tell me what to do, and most of them involved a level of risk that could have paralyzed me. Passion was my catalyst for change.
There can be times where passion can cause pain. When you pour your heart into creating something that doesn’t function or resonate as intended. But, as with most pain, time heals and brings perspective – even revealing that sometimes the most important experiences in our lives can reside within failure.
And a life driven by passion, and accepting of pain, is the only version of life I’m interested in experiencing.
The International Society for Aviation Photography rents a house very close to Wittman Regional Airport during EAA AirVenture. This is where I met Vincent Trelut, a man of many talents. Here is how he feels about Passion…
Passion is what occupies my mind when it is free from obligations or necessities, and my brain is available for pleasure and joy. It is what drives my motivation in life beyond the usual day-to-day activities, because I have not made a living or a necessity out of my passion: it is therefore consuming some of my resources, without bringing money to fuel it. I live passion for aviation history, flying and photography with freedom and an amateur spirit.
Passion has made me knowledgeable about history, science and many other things. It has stimulated my brain and body, contributed to keep me healthy. It has made me meet great people, make friends and share with others. It has also absorbed a lot of my time and resources, probably too much from the viewpoint of my family. It has also made me focus on a few topics only, and created a bias in my approach to life, at least in my leisure time. The key is to keep a balance and not be too passionate all the time on the same topics, while still keeping passion alive, because it stimulates and makes me learn so much, becoming a better person.
During our Friday night cookout at AirVenture, I met Gary Daniels, His creative career spans from designer, creative director to marketing executive and now he is Owner of Daniels Creative. I feel we instantly hit it off. And the following morning, He did a masterful job during our little photo shoot of warbirds and re-enactors. Super talented and passionate guy. Here’s Gary’s response.
Why does a person find they are drawn to something so much that they pursue it in life, either as a hobby or a profession? A lot of factors come into play here. Maybe something sparked an interest when they were young. Maybe they stumbled on their passion later in life by accident. It’s a mystical and magical thing. That is almost impossible to describe sense it is so different with each person.
And a ‘passion’ can be literally anything! I once met a fellow that collected old credit cards. He had thousands and he was passionate about it! He talked to me for 30 minutes about his collection and it was all I could do to not dose off! I thought, “What a gigantic waste of time!” Go figure, but he was very passionate about it and that was ‘his passion’. Who was I to discount it?
I spent my professional career in the creative industry and I was exposed to fantastic designers, photographers, illustrators, writers, etc. I had this very discussion with many of them. And, I heard this statement from almost all of them, ‘I didn’t start out doing this…I didn’t pick this, it just found me.’
Another aspect of the human experience, I am most appreciative of, is the gift of imagination within each of us. And, because of our inherent ability to imagine, we create passions that we pursue…sometimes for a week, sometimes for a lifetime. Imagination and passion, I feel, are the two human drives that give each of us a reason to live.
Passion has a life cycle. You may be hair on fire passionate about something, then, the flame burns out. You may start out lukewarm on something, then, it becomes a full-blown passion. I have experienced both of these scenarios with several ‘passions’ in my life. Many ‘passions’ have come and gone.
But, for me, the one passion that has maintained a fire is photography. I think because of the creative aspect of the craft. And, photography is one of the miracles of the human experience. Being able to capture history with a device that snaps 1/250-of-a-second snippets of time is quite miraculous.
The positive aspect of my photography passion is the experiences the craft has made possible, the travel, the opportunities, the friends met along the way, and the desire to be better at the craft. Photography keeps me involved with life, with capturing the wonderful aspects of this world we live in.
The negative aspect, for me, has been the frustration of staying on top of the technology and the cost of staying current. And, the drive to be better can be so tiring if you do not keep that aspect of the passion in check. You can burn your passion out if you are too critical of yourself. Becoming better at your passion is a natural progression of practicing and nurturing it but pushing too hard just breeds discontent and self-doubt in your abilities. And, that can douse the flame.
But, a surprising bonus came out of my photography passion as I grew in talent and knowledge…I like helping others be better in the craft. Early in my photography passion, I was very competitive and did not want to share my ‘secrets’ of how I got the shot. That was borne from insecurity in my abilities and taking myself way too seriously. Now, I realize that there is always someone better than me, and always someone not as good as me. I have learned to drop the ego and just enjoy the craft with others at all levels. Teach as I can, learn as I can. And, the interesting side effect of this approach is that my passion for photography has actually heated up and I enjoy it so much more.
Of everyone I asked, I gravitate towards Gary’s definition the most. Can’t wait for our paths to cross again!
But after months of pondering, I’m starting to form a definition I feel good about. It’s a fire that burns in my mind, body and spirit. When it is lit, I can tell you what color the flames are along with how hot they are but not how long it’s going to burn. Doubt and frustration can quickly snuff out its flame. I love feeding the flames and enjoying its heat. I must be careful and not put too much fuel into the fire. When I do, my life become out of balance and I start to neglect other parts of my life. Sometimes it becomes difficult to maintain balance, but I know I do my best work when I am.
While nurturing a passion of mine, it brings me an unmatched profound satisfaction that I cannot find anywhere else in my life. The nonsense of the world as well as the noise in my head fades into a peaceful silence. Time gets lost as hours pass like seconds. During that time, a clear and peaceful calm engulfs me. That time is sacred to me and I will not let anyone in anyway sabotage or try to take it from me. My passion has steeped into every part of my life and has become an important part of who I am. It has added many colors to the cloth I’m from.
My major difficulty associated with my Passion is that I want to spend more time doing what I love than things I should do. What I mean by that is I would love to be able to live off what I love to do versus working for a corporation. Yes, my job pays for everything I enjoy, and I keep reminding myself that but at what cost? The mental focus and to be consistently creatively takes its toll after a while. I’m very good at what I do but it is a very taxing spending your creative energy on someone else idea and get little to no acknowledgement. And it is not the process of what I do. With a good team, the process is quite enjoyable. Working and watching a design mature even if it does not get chosen is still rewarding. My problem is that a team develops an idea but when it is presented only one part of the staff gets credit for the work done.
If I am upset or frustrated, I do not work on my passions. It often just turns to shit and is more work to try to fix it later. I’ve also had people try to give me grief about my Passions. Negative comments along with underestimating my abilities. Fortunately, I’ve learned through some painful lessons not to let those people bother me and I have become cautious to who I share my passions with. There also the pain of others that take advantage or miss using your passion due to poor planning or just plain stupidity.
Here are my images that sparked this exploration into my creativity. Looking back through my images, I can remember how much I enjoyed shooting that day. Great light and beautiful subjects.
I must say “Thank You“ to all who participated in this post. For shared their definition of Passion with me. Feel free to share your definitions of Passions in the comments below as well as if you like my content, click the “Like” button or even start to follow my blog.
Until next time,
Continue with the next part of “Exploring My Creativity”, Inspiration