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The Creative Personality

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IMG_1 - Liz D COVER“The Necessity of Finding the Spark of Originality”

By Rick Trottier – RJT Images

 

I have heard these words time and again throughout nearly every walk of life I’ve had the opportunity to travel. “I’m just not a creative person”. Such a statement is the very essence of defeatism and an abdication of one of the most uniquely human qualities of all the gifts we’ve been given. Humankind is the one and only species that has the ability to create artifacts of innumerable types, from artistic to scientific, for commercial gain, for political statement or just for the pure joy of making something. Many animal species manufacture some incredible structures necessary for elements of their survival. Baltimore Orioles weave one of the most intricate and beautiful nests for their eggs that can be found. Honeybees construct hexagonal combs of dizziness complexity. And of course beavers engineer lodges that defy all belief when it comes to their structural integrity and design. But that is the one and only example of ingenuity that each of those creatures can initiate. Little else is within their realm of their productive capacity. But Mankind has the potential to make many different types of beautiful and useful constructs. A good friend of mine is a superb carpenter/contractor with an excellent bent towards engineering and who also happens to be a first-rate guitarist. And yet he does not think of himself as “creative” but he clearly demonstrates the capacity for creating useful and enjoyable things that benefit all those who are part of his life. A mutual friend of ours has superior woodworking and fly-tying skills, is a master gardener and would also not consider himself terribly ingenious. But what both of these gentleman are superior at achieving is initiating imagination and following the ability to make something new, fresh and un-thought of with the end-result being a conception that is truly creative and not simply imitative.

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IMG_20 - TiffanyBut often today, it is far too easy to “borrow” ideas and inspiration from another source and mine that avenue of invention rather than make the concerted effort at engaging talents and skills that are latent and possibly just need a bit more refinement. It is patently untrue that people “just aren’t creative”. That is a cop-out. What is likely to be the case is that a person has not made the effort at self-discovery nor have they put the time and energy into honing skills. Practice does indeed make perfect, but it also takes some commitment and sweat. But instead of taking the harder road that requires actively engaging cognitive and tactile components of the mind-body connection and putting in the hours to see a seed germinate to full flower and then an actual fruit worthy of harvest, people “ape” what they see. Just as SCADS of filmmakers today would rather remake tried and true stories, or negligibly rework them into sequels or prequels, “photographers” and “models” take the easy road and imitate what they see on Instagram and Pinterest rather than try to brave their own trail and make something unique. Just in this past year alone, I have seen more girls posing with oversized teddy bears than I ever need to see again, more thigh-high athletic socks than have ever been pulled up a shapely leg before and more Superhero t-shirts/tank tops than Batman could ever account for with his finely tuned detective mind. I read comics religiously for over 30 years and the plethora of comics-related images I have viewed this past year almost made me swear off one of my most cherished memories of youth. Even the number of hot girls wearing “geek glasses” in pictures has become an epidemic of earth shattering proportions. It was a cute idea in the beginning, even one in which I indulged, but if that many “geeks” of that level of beauty were truly to be found, Harvard and other institutions of Higher Learning would look like a Victoria’s Secret Runway Show. All of these ideas were novel and wonderfully charming at first, but as is so often the case, they have been beaten to death and reprised so endlessly as to be a bit nauseating by this point.

 

IMG_2 - Lily MarieThe problem lies not in the idea but in the tendency of people to be so enamored with the idea that they choose to directly copy it. Precise duplication of a concept is never the best choice for it is wasteful at best. Time and effort is spent in doing something that creates nothing new. Armies of “impressionists” could be found trying to copy the style and success of Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir, most of them creating only childish flatteries, but some struck out on their own paths and took the inspirational beauty they saw and subsequently made new and exciting directions for that school of painting. Had Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh simply aped Monet and Renoir, entire new avenues of thought may have lain unexplored. But both masters found inspiration in the works of their contemporaries and then married that spark to their own native talents and inclinations to fashion something else, something worthy. Photographers and models could take the route of Degas and Van Gogh if they wished, but far too often the easier choice of the slothful route is taken. Partly this occurs due to laziness, partly it is selfishness and/or arrogance and partly it is because of the forces at work around us of which we allow ourselves to be unaware.

 

IMG_22 - VivianLaziness – Cell phones and their connection to all the media we have access to in the Modern World are truly a marvel. If I can’t recall the name of the commanding general at the Battle of the Marne, all I need do is query any number of informative web resources and I have what I wish. Models and Photographers are inundated with imagery from every conceivable source. And while this is a superb, possibly the very best resource for inspiration that has ever existed, it is far too easy to fall in love with an image and then decide to copy it. While both photographers and models both have a tendency to do this, I have found it is far more commonplace for models to engage in this behavior. Women are constantly “checking out” images of other women in their never-ending dance of feminine competition. Finding that one, “super hot” pic on Instagram and wanting to recreate it sounds good at the start, but in the end, it really is a waste of effort, for the concept has been done, probably done quite well since it is “super hot” and redoing it is a pointless activity. The better choice is to allow that image to coalesce into a unique idea that is all your own and try to refine and develop that concept. I love it when a model comes to me and says “I saw this image on Pinterest and I want to do it a different way to make it ours”. From there, I can add my own take on lighting, composition, background and pose to make the image even more a personal exploration of art. Certainly it is best when the idea is one fully generated from within the mind and soul of the model or photographer, but as each year passes, creating “something new” becomes just that much more challenging. There is certainly a way to be inspired by existing imagery and not to blandly copy it stroke for stroke.

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IMG_17 - NinaSelfishness – Another force that stifles creativity springs from the selfish need to “get what we want” as a photographer, one way or another. Photographers have a tendency to “dictate content”, even down to choosing the attire of the model. From a purely artistic standpoint, this reduces the creative energy of the shoot by half if only one person is choosing outfits and making decisions on “what looks best”. In addition, if the photographer has a narrow sense of what they like, it is all too common that image after image is going to look the same since the attire never varies. By dictating content and giving into the selfish urge to shoot only what the photographer finds appealing, creativity is negated and stagnation is going to be the end result. I may not ALWAYS find each and every choice a model brings to a shoot perfectly ideal, but I am willing to look, listen and consider. Many is the time that I have been simply astounded by what looked like something drab sitting on a hanger, but then once it is on the model it absolutely comes alive. For models have their own unique personalities and visions and they are going to light up with enthusiasm and energy if what they find beautiful is part of the creative process. Certainly finding a common ground is important, because Men and Women see sexuality, beauty and art through very different eyes. But talented, experienced models learn to understand what looks great at a shoot, what sells when it comes to glamor imagery and what is alluring. Most photographers are male and stepping outside the male photographer mind and seeing how a female model is going to view things can ignite ingenuity superbly.

 

IMG_11 - ChrissyArrogance – I have heard many photographers say over many years “I know I can do that better” or “I see ideas and then make them better”. While once in a while, engineering benefits from the efforts of a scientist who has the skill and the insight on how to improve upon some thought, most of the time this does not translate to the art world. I have yet to ever hear a Beatles song covered better by any artist. Many of the covers have been tuneful and enjoyable to listen to, but never an improvement. Such is also the case with all the “Lord of the Rings” knock offs that FILLED bookshelves in the 1960s, 1970s and even into the 1980s, all despite the fact that each and every effort paled in comparison to the original. Some of the attempts to rework the “Quest Fantasy” were passable but failures in the end, the rest were reeking piles of doggerel, all of which existed because of the arrogant use of time, effort and “talent” that led to copies and forgeries rather than something new and special. Arrogance is no stranger to the photographic world. Far too many “photographers” are convinced of their own greatness, and that by simply holding a camera in their hands, they are now in command of such talent and skill as to be Lords of their Own Domain. They are certainly Legends in Their Own Minds and Rebels Without a Clue. Far too many of these poseurs scan social media with gusto, looking for ideas they can “improve”. If they spent a quarter of the time learning the craft or grasping the artistic concepts behind the mechanical operation of photography, they would rise in the Industry. Instead they settle for copying an image, as a toddler copies his parent at some task.

 

IMG_5 - VivianCommercial Influence – All of the afore-mentioned forces that cause people to abjure creativity and fall prey to senseless emulation are within their powers to affect change. One power totally outside our ability to shape is the nature of commercial trends and how they affect modeling and photography. Unless you are a nude model or nude photographer (in which case fashion trends are mostly irrelevant), most imagery is partly at the mercy of what is “in style” or “popular” that year. Well do I remember the colored animal print lingerie trend of five years ago. By the end of the season, I was forbidding those pink zebra prints and purple leopard patterns in my sight they had become so prevalent. About a year or so ago, it was corsets, every girl was bringing corsets to shoots. Once again, I had to exercise executive powers and halt any and all such attire from being used. I certainly don’t blame the model entirely for such situations. Girls go to stores or look at wares on-line and see garb that excites them. The problem is that so do about ten thousand other young ladies. And as a result, a trend can dictate the look in imagery and before long pictures start to look a little too much alike. Strappy bikinis are all the rage right now and I can see the appeal. Fortunately, the geometry of arranging straps into exciting intersecting angles and lines is fairly complex, so not too much repetition has occurred as yet. But that time is coming. Last year I saw the high-cut on the hip 1980s one-piece bathing suit make its comeback. And each and every model who had one affected the same pose, pulling up on the hip scoops, making their legs look even longer, their crotches less covered by stretched materials and the look of suffused passion on their faces belying what that wedgie must have felt like. It became obnoxious to see a new fashion trend in swimwear sweep through the photography world and even the pose used with the swimsuit became horrendously ubiquitous. Vigilance is the key to avoiding the whirlpool effect of trends dictated by the fashion industry and commercial entities. I keep careful watch on what seems to be “taking over” the social media feeds and try to steer away from those trends to the best of my ability. I do find myself giving in on occasion when a young lady BEGS to do a certain look. I find a way to make it different using all of my inventive mind and experience and remember that it is “her shoot” and that her reasons for shooting that concept are personal. And after all, isn’t personality and spirit what is supposed to dominate choices when it comes to content?

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One of my favorite short stories I read as a young person was “The Murderer” by Ray Bradbury, about a Mr. Albert Brock who “murders” all the electronic gadgets he comes across that are stealing away the humanity of all those around him. He ends up in a sanatorium, happily enjoying the peace and quiet of his cell, while the psychiatrist who interviews him goes back to a desk where he becomes the cog in the machine that he is, soulless and inhuman. I think of that story often when I look at Instagram and see all the copycat images of models and photographers, none of which show any originality nor innovation. Mr. Bradbury wrote “The Murderer” over 60 years ago, predicting an unholy attraction and addiction to technology. I have seen such things coming for a very long time, but in the case of photography, it is so very sad to see a tool like the Internet and Social Media be one of the last killing blows to an inheritance passed along since the Caves of Lascaux were painted almost 20,000 years ago. Mankind has had and still should have the power to create beauty, born of a person’s soul, mind and experience that is unique to them. I sincerely hope I am not seeing the death of such an inheritance.

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  • IMG_22 - Vivian

    IMG_22 – Vivian

  • IMG_1 - Liz D COVER

    IMG_1 – Liz D COVER

  • IMG_2 - Lily Marie

    IMG_2 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_3 - Chrissy

    IMG_3 – Chrissy

  • IMG_4 - Liz D

    IMG_4 – Liz D

  • IMG_5 - Vivian

    IMG_5 – Vivian

  • IMG_6 - Tiffany

    IMG_6 – Tiffany

  • IMG_7 - Liz D

    IMG_7 – Liz D

  • IMG_8 - Nina

    IMG_8 – Nina

  • IMG_9 - Lily Marie

    IMG_9 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_10 - Liz D

    IMG_10 – Liz D

  • IMG_11 - Chrissy

    IMG_11 – Chrissy

  • IMG_12 - Lily Marie

    IMG_12 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_13 - Liz D

    IMG_13 – Liz D

  • IMG_14 - Lily Marie

    IMG_14 – Lily Marie

  • IMG_15 - Vivian

    IMG_15 – Vivian

  • IMG_16 - Liz D

    IMG_16 – Liz D

  • IMG_17 - Nina

    IMG_17 – Nina

  • IMG_18 - Chrissy

    IMG_18 – Chrissy

  • IMG_19 - Liz D

    IMG_19 – Liz D

  • IMG_20 - Tiffany

    IMG_20 – Tiffany

  • IMG_21 - Lily Marie

    IMG_21 – Lily Marie


 

Managing Editor, GlamModelz Magazine I’m a Central New England photographer based out of Worcester, MA, just one hour west of Boston. I specialize in fashion and glamor commercial imagery as well portraiture of all types. My style is a blend of commercially viable work melded with artistic innovation, whether on location or in studio. I prize collaboration quite highly and am proud of the fact that most of my work displays the ideas and designs of my models as much as it does my skills, efforts and planning.

Rick has published 78, articles with GlamModelz Magazine.

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