Home » Uncategorized » Creativity and Artistry

Creativity and Artistry

Start here

Little bee-eater

Little bee-eater


A few weeks ago, I got involved in a couple of discussions about creativity in photography and this led to a further discussion about the relationship – differences and similarities – between this and artistry.  Can you be creative and artistic?  Does being one preclude the other?  Do you have to be creative to be artistic?  Can you be artistic without being creative, and can you be creative without being artistic?  These were some of the questions that arose.  I am not sure that any of these questions were resolved to the satisfaction of all involved in the discussion.

There is also the question as to where these talents come from.  Are you born creative or can you learn to be creative.  I am of the latter school of thought.  The same question can be raised about being artistic – born with it or learned?  I believe that, if you can follow the rules of good composition, then you can also learn to be artistic.  I think that you can learn to design pictures that are aesthetically pleasing to a viewer.

I think it is probably appropriate to begin by trying to define, maybe that is not the best word, but at least put out what I mean by both artistry and creativity.  I believe that there is a distinct difference between being artistic and being creative. I do not feel, however, that one necessarily excludes the other.  I think it is possible to be artistic – includes the skills and talent to create fine works of art: painting, drawing, photographing, sculpting, musical composition, etc. that satisfy certain aesthetic requirements and creative – a skillset and ability to use their imagination to create and solve problems, i.e., create something that did not exist before.

For the sake of this discussion, I will define artistry in photography as making use of the “rules of design” to produce an aesthetically pleasing image, whereas creativity is finding new and different ways to place objects in an image.  Being creative, in this context could also be artistic.  For example, If you look at the photography of Erik Johansson, http://erikjohanssonphoto.com/work/imagecats/personal/. I would say he is creative, but is he artistic? Some would say yes and others might disagree.  For me, his work is both artistic and creative – they are aesthetically pleasing and creative. Compare this with the landscape work of the masters like Ansel Adams. Eliot Porter and some of the more contemporary landscapes artists such as Michael Frye, Alain Briot, David Muench and others, too numerous to mention.  They are artistic but are they necessarily creative – maybe, maybe not. Whereas some of the work of J. P. Caponigro is, in my opinion, very creative – is it artistic – maybe, depends on who you are asking.

I mentioned that artistry is using the “rules of design”.  What are these rules?  Without going into a lot of detail – that would be the subject of many more blogs – these rules includes things like the rule of thirds, the use of leading lines, patterns and shapes, simplicity and minimalism and a number of others.  For those interested in pursuing this aspect of photographic composition, web searches will give you lots to read and think about.  Here is one place to start – http://photoinf.com/General/KODAK/guidelines_for_better_photographic_composition.html

Harold Davis, of flower photography fame, has written a series of web postings on “Becoming a more creative photographer” – http://photo.net/column/harolddavis/…-photographer/. In the first paragraph of his opening article, he says:
Becoming more creative cannot be approached like an assembly line. There is no cookie cutter way to enhance the imaginative component of your photography. At the same time, with the exception of a few kinds of precision photography, creativity is the great differentiator between merely competent and inspirational photographers.

Meaning, that, unlike the artistic approach, there are no rules that can lead you to a creative image.

Nevertheless, I believe that one can learn to be creative. It is a matter of learning to think differently – to look at the world with a different view. To quote a much overused phrase – “thinking outside the box” can be learned and it is a first step in learning to think creatively. Edward deBono coined the term “lateral thinking” and has written a number of books on the concepts and the practice of this approach to creative thinking.  As Ansel Adams said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”  For me, this is where the creative licence, if you want to call it that, comes in.  Being creative requires an active, if not over-active imagination and the more that you exercise this imagination, the more your potential for creative work is improved.

I think that, as photographers, we have to rethink what we mean when we talk about being creative, when we really mean being artistic.  If an image is appealing to our senses and we find it attractive, then it is probably because the photographer has used the basic rules, or guidelines, of compositional design to produce an image that is artistic.  It does not have to be creative.



  1. OFrujBQPbAYU says:

    86662 730199Hi there! Do you use Twitter? Id like to follow you if that would be ok. Im undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts. 782809

    • photowestguy says:

      No, I am not a Twitter user. Please feel free to follow me. This blog is entirely new to me and I may decide to change it to some other format. So, stay tuned. Thanks for your interest – much appreciated.

  2. 777265 257998Some really superb info , Sword lily I found this. 571778

  3. 627038 859015I wish I had a dime for every bad article Ive read lately. I also wish other writers had your talent and style. Thank you. 569477

  4. 860081 95126Thank you for writing this tremendous top quality post. The data in this material confirms my point of view and you genuinely laid it out effectively. I could never have written an post this very good. 108237

  5. 777644 103736Hmm, I never thought about it that way. I do see your point but I believe several will disagree 616078

    • photowestguy says:

      Glad I could provide another perpspective. I do not expect everyone to agree with mine, but that is how we make progress – discussion and exchanges of different points of view.

  6. 625867 669775Some truly great content material on this internet web site , thankyou for contribution. 517295

  7. 177597 250652This really is such a terrific post, and was thinking considerably exactly the same myself. One more wonderful update. 70589

  8. νυφικα says:

    732820 176368Its great as your other articles : D, appreciate it for putting up. 505474

  9. 984274 419761cool thanks for reis posting! btw are there feeds to your weblog? Id enjoy to add them to my reader 452842

  10. cancer cells says:

    670695 331962You wouldnt feel it but Ive wasted all day digging for some articles about this. You may be a lifesaver, it was an superb read and has helped me out to no finish. Cheers! 371274

  11. 941736 864854That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Be sure to keep writing. 213253

  12. 117950 697231i was just browsing along and came upon your weblog. just wantd to say wonderful internet site and this post genuinely helped me. 406443

  13. 167585 615329Really fascinating details!Perfect just what I was searching for! 428275

  14. 983077 342180i was just browsing along and came upon your site. just wantd to say excellent job and this post actually helped me. 411673

  15. 73846 26568I conceive this internet site has got some real wonderful data for every person : D. 969352

  16. 738893 339013I want to start a weblog but would like to own the domain. Any concepts how to go about this?. 494160

  17. 350916 513829I truly treasure your piece of work, Fantastic post. 938379

  18. 143087 194762I feel other site proprietors need to take this internet web site as an example , really clean and wonderful user genial style . 554581

  19. 819370 112500Dead pent subject matter, thanks for entropy. 546616

  20. 260683 366889Straight towards the point and properly written! Why cant every person else be like this? 430800

  21. 989522 285906Completely composed written content , thanks for info . 99874

  22. right here says:

    317466 143527Just added this blog to my favorites. I enjoy reading your blogs and hope you keep them coming! 830872

  23. 347526 265982Thank you a great deal for giving everyone an extraordinarily special possiblity to check suggestions from here. 790588

  24. 789622 33764Really fascinating information !Perfect just what I was searching for! 427152

  25. 739103 85270Discovered your weblog and decided to have a study on it, not what I generally do, but this blog is fantastic. Awesome to see a website thats not spammed, and really makes some sense. Anyway, fantastic write up. 532156

  26. 81751 757416whoah this weblog is excellent i like studying your posts. 472133

  27. 305292 418632Wow! This could be 1 certain with the most valuable blogs Weve ever arrive across on this topic. Basically Exceptional. Im also an expert in this subject therefore I can recognize your effort. 970452

  28. 74692 548245I like this internet internet site because so considerably utile stuff on here : D. 190004

  29. 243082 895948I got what you intend, saved to my bookmarks , quite decent internet site . 394397

  30. 282423 258436Its truly a cool and helpful piece of info. Im glad that you merely shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing. 320114

  31. 370497 262638Excellently written post, doubts all bloggers offered exactly the same content material because you, the internet is actually a greater spot. Please maintain it up! 759273

  32. 199343 944012Normally I do not learn post on blogs, even so I would like to say that this write-up quite pressured me to look at and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite wonderful post. 705782

  33. check that says:

    968785 676481Hey there! Great stuff, please do tell us when you post once more something comparable! 945672

  34. 251017 507030Remarkable weblog layout here. Was it hard creating a good seeking internet site like this? 506944

    • photowestguy says:

      Not sure what you mean by “creating a good seeking internet site”. I simply used a “template” that was available from and through WordPress. A lot of folks have done this.

  35. 589335 570825Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read? 733294

  36. 212117 219827Some truly fantastic articles on this web site , appreciate it for contribution. 339072

  37. 413094 653113Excellently written write-up, doubts all bloggers offered exactly the same content material because you, the internet can be a greater location. Please maintain it up! 600121

  38. 727574 203910I came across this great from you out of sheer luck and never think lucky enough to say also credit you for any job nicely done. 737225

  39. 627570 438076Howdy! Would you mind if I share your weblog with my twitter group? Theres a great deal of men and women that I feel would genuinely enjoy your content material. Please let me know. Thanks 342330

    • photowestguy says:

      Please feel free to share my blog with anyone whom you feel would enjoy it. I try and write it to be easy to read and at the same time offer some information to the reader that they may not find easily elsewhere. Alternatively, I try and offer my thoughts on a subject with the intent of giving the reader something to think about. That’s all.

  40. 331888 999066This design is spectacular! You clearly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (nicely, almostHaHa!) Great job. I truly enjoyed what you had to say, and much more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! 93166

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: