Child and Creativity - Abhi Madangeri

In 2006 my brother gifted me my first DSLR and thus began my photography journey. I started shooting and learning the technicalities and as I was interested in nature, everything that moved was my subject, but composition and many other aspects were totally ignored. Patience and waiting game came at a cost of too many images with clutter, distraction, faraway and out of focus subjects which had filled my hard disk. Slowly the mind took control over impatient fingers and I started to wait for some action to happen or subject to come out in open within reach or against a nice background. My images improved as the composition and technical aspects of photography were applied in execution of these images.


There came a day when my photography came to a standstill and I was thinking about what images to make. During this time my mind was blank and I wandered around to look for new ideas and perspectives, but creating something new which would make me happy seemed impossible. I needed someone to guide me and show me the way.
One day I was sitting with my 4 year old daughter and watching her draw something in a book. She drew many things, colored them and showed it to me.

The drawing was about sky and sun, a girl swimming, a dog and injection, a dinosaur, house and a slide near a flowing river. She also had a story to share which told about all the elements in her drawing. Her mind was clear and running wild with imagination which for me as an adult was difficult to contemplate.
I showed her an image which I had made the same day and asked her to create a story. Here is our conversation on the image.
Anika: "Papa, this is ant and grasshopper"
Me: "What, ant and grasshopper? These are spot billed ducks"
Anika: "I know, but this is like the story of ant and grasshopper. One is dancing while the other is busy"

How many of us can think like these kids? How many of us can connect things, make stories and be creative without inhibitions? Has our creativity lost with our childhood?
I had found my guide in my daughter. She showed me the direction when I had lost my way. The same night I tried to analyze how a child's mind works and how can I start thinking like them to creative something new. This ended in comparing the path I had taken for my journey of photography with development of a child's motor skills.
A child sees the world and starts observing it along with other senses like smell and hearing, and then slowly it learns to turn, sit, crawl and walk. It starts controlling its arms, hand and then the fingers. That is when it starts scribbling its thoughts which was the first thing it learnt through observation. This is called proximal (near) to distal (far) in child's motor development.
Controlling the fingers is like understanding the camera and its technicalities. My evolution in photography should have been like a child. I should have learnt to observe and slowly scribble those ideas on the blank sensor to recreate my imagination into images; instead it was my fingers which started moving first. It was like I had control over the pencil but one fine day ended up without any thoughts to express. The journey was distal to proximal.
Photography is about expressing our thoughts, imagination and perspectives through images. After a point of time, simply clicking the same thing, same way, over and over again becomes monotonous and boring. The mind becomes stagnant and blank without ideas to paint the canvas.

Let the process of image making flow from proximal (mind) to distal (camera) than distal to proximal. Let the creativity in your photography be driven by the child in you.



+1 #1 Gurudatt 2015-09-08 16:07
Very inspiring piece of experience shared, Abhi. Been thru this phase to some degree but now I seem to have reached a stage where I am not able to capture anywhere close to what I had imagined I would do. Thus there indeed is discontent, healthy one of course, and passion to keep experimenting though not with expected outcome. Now, I am looking forward to a camera which can be worn like a pair of spects and with the feature of a cordless remote button worn like a ring on one's finger, can be activated without attracting any attention! No, no intention of doing 'jasoosi' but of capturing pictures without any interference. Thanks for this creative piece of writing to motivate, to inspire.

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