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Increasing Your Creativity 
A Lesson from the Pros

Unless you create photographs for the shear joy of putting them in a personal album or storing them on your computer, you create them because you want others to see, appreciate and use them. 

While not a profession photographer, it is still a business getting accepted for exhibitions, having your images used in an article, or purchased by a card company, selling photo cards you've created, selling prints, or pursuing any of the many other opportunities that require someone commit to purchasing or display your work.

This article is about how amateur fine-art photographers can grow their "business" by learning from the pros. In this article, the distinction between amateur and professional is that professionals rely on their photography as the principal source of income. Also, they are more focused on commercial photography.

Creative Freedom

While director of The Center for Fine Art Photography I was frequently told "I want to create my art without thinking about it being good enough for exhibition or sale. When I create work to please others my creativity is stilted."

If you set out to please the world, you will please no one.
But if you set out to please yourself, you may well end up pleasing the world.
- Thomas Chippendale; 17th century fine-furniture craftsman.

Chippendale's words resound positively down the centuries and remain as appropriate and reassuring today as they did in the 17th century. Whether you are a fine art photographer or fine-furniture maker, being your own most demanding taskmaster is an asset. Yet, even Chippendale learned to value his customers input.

Commercial Photographers' Balancing Act

It is the professional's very real requirements to daily meet the demands of others that offers them invaluable opportunities. With each assignment they are faced with new challenges. It's the challenges that force them to continually push their abilities, learn new ones and expand their artistic talent. While meeting the assignment's specifics the commercial "artists" interjects their distinctive creative style. Then, when the "enhanced" image exceeds the client's expectations, repeat business and referrals are sure to follow.

Herein lies the lesson for the individual artist whose only challenges are what he or she creates.

Working in a Vacuum

Not that that is bad. It just that it is limited by the artist’s imagination and experiences. Fine-art photographers, just as the professionals, need to be challenged by others if they are to extend their potential.

This does not mean they should or have to prostitute their work to meet someone’s arbitrary assignment. But it does mean being willing to be pushed, pulled, and guided by someone or group who has an interest in seeing you talent grow.

Finding Creative Stimulus

Where can you find this special source of inspiration and challenge? In the classroom, teachers are pushing students every day; in photo organizations where critique is objective, helpful and kindly presented; from mentors whose work is akin to your style; and from consultants who are exposed to all manner of styles and quality of work and who aware of new trends that may interest you.