Any good artist knows that constraints make better art.
My experience has been that limitations force us to make better work and make it easier for us to create. It’s been true since those creative writing assignments I used to get in Grade School, where we were assigned a title and had to write a story based on it. Back in the Fifth Grade, I could take those titles and warp them into something completely unexpected. For example, I managed to take “My Adventure at the Circus” and turn it into a subterranean fantasy that started with a trap door found under the edge of a circus tent. Seriously. Good art, which may or may not include “My Adventure at the Circus” circa the Fifth Grade, happens when artists bang up against the constraints of their chosen medium. And, when even those constraints feel too open, additional restrictions help them make better art, believe it or not. In the case of the writing exercise, being forced to start with that title was usually enough for me to really turn loose.
But, these days, I don’t have as much time as I feel like I need to write, so I’ve changed mediums.
When I was in school, I wanted to make art and felt drawn to photography. But, when I was a student and had the time, I didn’t have the money to buy a camera, much less the film. Now, thanks to the speed, ease and relative low cost of digital photography, I can indulge myself in photography. And, for those of you who know me, you know I have, in fact, done that. But, my work there has stalled. I need constraints.
Last week, I posted a link to a Daily Photography challenge. I don’t know about you, but I think a daily challenge may be a bit too much for me. Luckily, DIY Photography has a 52 Week Photography Challenge that may provide the subjects I need to force myself to get creative with photography, with just a little less intimidating frequency. Every week, they have a subject, or theme or specific instruction, to help a photographer constrain their art enough to get creative.
I’m not sure that I’ll do it every week, but you, dear reader, certainly can.