“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs’ advice is important for all aspects of our lives. But his words really resonated for me in thinking about creativity in my photography.
At a photography workshop in Savannah, one afternoon our assignment was to go out and take a picture with a very narrow depth of field – that is, where only a small part of the image is in focus. I walked around the city for a while, looking for subjects. What will the workshop leader like? Will the other students come up with something better than I can? I was getting more and more tied up in meeting others’ expectations – or what I thought others might expect of me. I took a lot of dull pictures. Then, I sat down on a bench in one of the squares and just took a deep breath. Without really thinking, I reached in my pocket, pulled out the only thing I had, which was a nickel. For no particular reason, I propped it up on the other side of the seat. I noticed some interesting neon lights on the stores bordering the square. Then, I lifted the camera, set the aperture wide open, focused on the nickel and took one picture, shown above. It’s one of my favorite images from the past few years.
For sure, I still often fall back into the trap of worrying about how others will respond to my work. But time and again, my best work happens when I simply let go and shoot – when I’m not trying at all – to meet some perceived expectations of others or even of myself.
If we truly have the courage to follow our intuition and our heart, as Jobs suggests, all will be well – in our art and in every area of our lives.
Below is one more of my favorite images, taken earlier this year. I had a free day at the studio and just played with a couple of slinkies, trying different lighting ideas. Playing was the operative word – in some of the shots, like this one, I just threw the slinkies on the table and shot them where they landed.
Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.
Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.