Someone once told me they aren’t willing to be creative outside of work because they’re not paid to do it. This concept was shocking to me. Creativity isn’t a punch card. It’s not a trait that we just switch on and off at our office desks; it’s woven into every facet of our lives. In my experience, even when I’m acting as a consumer, I’m deconstructing and reverse engineering whatever content I’m viewing. I’m never just sitting on the couch, brain-dead and drooling over Netflix. I’m finding inspiration from great storytelling, I’m researching what makes interesting camera angles and I’m celebrating when creative talent is fully realized.
A great example of this is getting to experience the astounding cinematography found in the series Mr. Robot. Not only do I find the story fascinating, but it’s a perfect look into what makes quadrant framing so visually striking. Throughout each episode, I’m taking note and figuring out how I can incorporate some of these ideas into my own projects. Even when I’m not actively creating, I’m finding new ways to approach my own work.
In fact, shutting down my creative side would be harder than just pursuing my passion to create outside of work. To turn off that part of my brain is nearly impossible. But this is not much of a problem. It’s quite the opposite actually. If we can harness our drive and learn how to have fun, we can grow as individuals in new and exciting ways.
For instance, I’ve always appreciated photography and video. I cling to Instagram as my platform of choice due to the beauty people find from day to day. I’m not talking about the photos showcasing someone’s underwhelming ability to make chicken and rice. Nor am I talking about the hourly posts of random awkward kids making the same weird face over and over. There are truly passionate people that capture awe-inspiring shots of models, landscapes and urban life hidden within Instagram’s feed. As I saw these people post more and more, I started to deconstruct what they were capturing and that led to a wheel turning inside my head.
So, I decided to buy a camera. At the time, this wasn’t an easy task. I had to save and make some financial sacrifices, but I knew that if I didn’t scratch this itch, it would never go away. Once I got my camera, I started researching everything I could by digging into various techniques and new ways to shoot. But none of that would have mattered if I never actually got around to pressing the shutter button. Getting behind the camera and shooting everything I could point my lens at allowed me to satisfy that drive to create something. And this was never seen as a chore, nor was it something that ever wore me down. In fact, it built me up in more ways than I could have possibly imagined.
Now, years later, I have a large portfolio built up, I have numerous commercial shoots under my belt and I’ve even founded a photography collective dedicated to unfiltered creativity with some of the most talented photographers, videographers, fashion designers, makeup artists and models I’ve ever met. And it was all because I learned to hack into my desire for creative thinking. And best of all, I can take these skills, apply them to my professional career and they will follow me for the rest of my life.
So next time you’re sitting around and you witness something that inspires you, don’t just leave it as wishful thinking. Consider how you can take that spark of inspiration and cultivate it into a useful skill. At the very least, it could lead you on a venture of learning and self-discovery. Trust me, the right side of your brain will thank you.