“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.” Henry Van Dyke
Greetings from Tuscany! I hope you have all been having a fine holiday season. Mine was filled with delicious food, roaring fires and long walks in the forests and olive groves of the castle grounds we are staying in.
It’s been pretty epic.
We arrived in Italy with no warm weather clothes. Nada. We had been planning to go from Morocco further towards the Equator, not away from it. But forces greater than me (my English children) insisted on an ‘authentic cold Christmas’.
Something, somehow, led us to an unbelievable Christmas in a castle.
On landing in Rome we made mad dashes around the shops, scooping up the warmest clothes we could find – before jumping on a train to take us on a rambling journey north.
We arrived at The Creators Castle at night. The air was fresh and cold, the smell of trees and earthiness, the scent of woodsmoke and the black, black sky with glittering stars greeted us.
It was with much excitement that I awoke the next day, before dawn, to start my photography exploration. I know if I hadn’t got my camera and that desire to capture images, I probably would have stayed in my nice warm bed. Who wouldn’t?
But that itch to get some great images and explore got me out – and I am so grateful I discovered the landscape during that first frosty morning with fog rolling over the valleys and a beautiful pink sunrise.
Of course, I have to give credit to my kids. I would never have willingly thought – Europe in winter! Given that we can go anywhere right now my internal homing device says – stay warm Tony! Stay warm!
Sometimes we all need a little push into a different direction to find something incredible. And of course, like the multitude of photographers before me, I am finding Tuscany a dream to photograph.
Answers on a postcard please – where in Italy isn’t beautiful? I need to know! I have only found fascinating places in Italy so far – this year alone Venice, Naples, the gorgeous towns and villages of the Amalfi coast, Rome and now Tuscany have met my camera’s gaze while I stand behind it in total awe.
This is the time of year when I always feel the desire to reflect. To draw lessons from things I want to improve (and there are always things you want to improve if you’re a creative person and you run a business.)
But before I jump into that world of critiquing, I want to do some celebrating. I don’t want my work and teaching to always be about – what can be better?
I want it, for now, to be – what have we done really brilliantly this year?
I want us all to think about what we have photographed this year, what we have done really well, what we are proud of and what we love about our photography?
A celebration of our photography and our creative spirit
I often get so caught up in taking images and working with them, that I get hooked on what’s next and forget to look at what I’ve done.
I think it means that we are so bent on looking at what is wrong with our images and what we could do better that we often don’t fully appreciate the amazing work that we have done.
It’s definitely not about chasing perfectionism. Yes, we can all improve. But we are thinking about the journey, right? Creativity is a journey.
Our photography is telling us stories about our lives, it’s inspiring the people around us with the focus that we have on our creative habit.
One of the most important parts of any journey is to recognise one’s gifts, talents and effort. Because if you can start the year with a spring in your step, a feeling of I’ve got some photos I’m really proud of! then I think you start with a way more positive, excited and motivated attitude to propel you into doing even more awesome creative things next year.
Plus it’s just so boring to continuously think about what could be better, what can we find that is beautiful and amazing now?
So, before we go any further, I hear a few of you shouting at the back – but my photos weren’t amazing! I didn’t do anything brilliantly!
To which I reply – you need to let go of the desire for perfection, and embrace the concept of imperfection. After all:
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dalí
The gift of imperfection
“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” Robert H. Schuller
So many photographers, artists, writers talk about how their best, finest work is anything but perfect. We are not aiming to be perfect, we are aiming to reflect our stories, our selves, our feelings and our thoughts about the world.
We want to show people what we think is important and interesting to us.
We want to share our adventures and ideas with our friends, the people we love, our communities and tribes that we form, the world at large maybe.
The serenity, the fun and the excitement behind the image is just as important as the execution.
The joy that we share when we show our work and people connect to it.
The joy that we have looking at other people’s work and seeing the things they are passionate about.
It’s connecting to the communities of people who share our passions and who elevate and grow our passions.
Being a creative person, always ready for the new thrill of making something new.
Creativity is as much about what we give to others when we are in the process of making. Whether it’s because what we end up with is interesting or beautiful, or maybe it’s about inspiring people.
I encourage you to do something with your images – print them and hang them in your home, exhibit them, create an online gallery, make a book. But really do something with what you have already done.
Have a wonderful day, and happy photographing,
Anthony and Diana