Photography and Creativity

Subrata Karan eminent Photo-artist & Cinematographer

A true creative artist is always in the hunt for ‘newness’ in his creative application and outcome. Now, what is this ‘newness’? Say, a young mind, who is unaware of the theory of the gravitational force made by Sir Isaac Newton and other developments thereafter, sits under a tree and finds to his amazement an apple falling down from the tree instead of going up. At this, the young mind formulates a theory that the Earth attracts objects towards itself. Now what will happen when this young scientist publishes his theory? Obviously, none will pay any heed to this once revolutionary theory. Why does the novel theory suffer here? This is because novelty or newness is not individual. It’s the part of a process since the beginning of the civilization. The novelty of anything will be judged in terms of the history of human intervention towards things and ideas.

Such is the case with every form of art. Needless to say, photography is no exception. What has been done in photographic history should never be repeated. Variants may be there, but they also should have enough diversion from the original. Well, this term ‘original’ is very significant in order to understand the history, contemporaneity and the ‘newness’ in art. Towards the beginning of photography even the photograph of a cow milking its baby was considered worthy of attention. But if a present-day photographer clicks the same action again, he will attract no creative attention except for the viewers’ comments like ‘wow’, ‘amazing’, ‘awesome’ etc. and a good number of ‘likes’ in a facebook page. The cow milking its baby is not a novel idea as long as it does not add an extra dimension that has never been experienced by anybody. Originality lies in this ‘extra-dimension’.

The objects and elements in a photographic frame is almost constant. Addition of a new element in a frame is a matter of documentation. So when the objects and elements in a frame are the same wherein lies the aspect of novelty, or originality, or newness of the image constructed? In photography, this originality lies in the composition of the given elements and objects. Composition or the arrangement of the different elements in a given frame in terms of movement, colour, mood, perspective, tone etc. provides a photographic frame its meaning and beauty which is new. A viewer should stand before the frame amazed and awe-struck – “This is something I have never seen anywhere.”  A never-seen, never-experienced, never-felt structure among the elements of an image constructs the originality of the concept of beauty and meaning. One of the most photographed elements by a bird photographer is the hummingbird. In various moods, perspectives, movements and angles this bird has been photographed. This is why some types of the images have become clichés. A series of similar images makes the images appear boring to the viewers. Not only that, it does not develop the photographic treatment of that beautiful and interesting bird. So, what should one do? In this question lies the hidden truth of the aspect of creativity. A creative artist who is a part of the history and who wants to develop that history knows the answer or at least strives hard to find that answer.