Craft and Creativity – my story

Wood anemone in spring woodland

By Jason

The Frustration of Creativity

I remember in my childhood years the frustration at not being able to draw. Or paint. Or do anything remotely arty in fact. Yet I yearned deep in my heart to express myself in ways other than conversation. Being young and rather green I never questioned the ‘why’ of my need to find my creative self, in fact in some ways I despaired of it.

The desolation of yet again throwing away another abused sheet of A3 was taxing to say the least, however the occasional flash of brilliance, flush of success spurred me on to craft yet more miseries!

Then I discovered photography and my whole world changed. This was it! My voice was held in the tiny metal box that captured photons of light and conjured my truth and vision within its alchemical world. Through my turbulent teenage years I tramped the moors with my camera and collie dog, seeking the hidden corners and the call of my wild.

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My images were crafted without expectation, without agenda. They simply became of this world for no other reason than to be seen, to be witnessed by anyone who would sit through another slide show or box of sepia stained black and white prints.

Deep Connections with Nature

That old camera became my portal into my inner spaces and taught me much about deep connections with nature, but of course I didn’t recognise that then. The visions of my youth moulder in a damp, broken down caravan at the bottom of the garden, perhaps one day soon I’ll muster up the courage to visit them and see who I was back then.

Time went on and I became a professional photographer shooting the land, her nature and people to pay the bills. I needed to see smiles, my clients wanted happiness and joy to shine through so my approach changed.

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Chocolate Box Pictures

Chocolate box pictures for glossy magazines and coffee table books. I photographed people, the rich and the famous, the poor and the blighted. Always they had to wear that mask of joy, that smile of ‘everything is ok’.

The editors needed it of me, it was as if the shots were saying ‘if you keep on reading these stories you too will be happy like me’. I began to carry this over into my landscape and nature work. Smiling trees, happy mountains, contented rivers and laughing butterflies. ‘Nature Porn’ as it’s now called.

Two decades later I once again found myself in that place of desolation as my creativity became someone else’s. I could no longer see me in my work. I was creating a sham, a pictorial reality that was deceiving to say the least. So I went on a quest to find my creativity and the process changed my life.

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I began to seek the spirit between the places, the muse who gifts us creative insights and my own authenticity in the imagery. It was a tough journey too as I had to let go of much that mattered to me in order to really begin to see again.

Awakening my Creativity

After 25 years of shooting for money giving time to the creative process without thought of profit or gain proved difficult beyond belief but I endured and went through a time of crafting photos that were destined for the proverbial waste bin. But then something happened. I woke up. I saw the reality of our world in these tough times and, after spiralling down to a great depth I rose up and no longer needed the smiles.

My creativity became more than photos. Yes I still use a camera to create my work but the tools really don’t matter, it’s the process that counts. I don’t seek the smiles. I don’t ask the hills to look happy for me.

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Finding my Muse

We sit together in our truth those hills and I and when I feel the depth of them I gather up those feelings in my camera and tenderly take them home to share as a blessing to our Earth and as a nurturing connection for those who care to see.

Now I’m finding a real beauty in my art, a beauty that has melancholy dancing around the edges, a beauty that holds its own pain of these days and which reaches out into my heart and attaches deep within me.

Now I create my art for me, it’s my process and in doing so I’m able to share my connections with the raw, primal stuff out there with my audience.

My creativity has finally come of age and has taken half a century to do so. Now as I look through my lens at that tender new beech leaf dripping with fresh rain and reaching out with unspoken words I know I’ve come home to my craft. The land and her progeny speak with me and again I hear.

It’s a beautiful thing.

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Comments

  1. What a beautiful post and how truly lovely your photos are. They do indeed hold an edge of sadness for what could be lost – how awful it would be if the only way our grandchildren could see what we had lost would be to look at images such as these. I also have had a yearning from childhood to be ‘arty’ and have never found it within me. Until a couple of years ago I found woven tapestry and that now fulfils some of my creative longings. Keep on taking these wonderful photos.

    • Thank you for your kind commment Angie. I’m touched that you ‘see’ me in my work. We all must strive to follow our creative longings. Art in whatever form brings with it freedom.

  2. Ah, Jason….this is indeed a wonderful post and the images you have chosen to illustrate it are exquisite. I adore them all, but in particular the crow in flight. As a child I used to paint and draw all the time, even bouts of creative writing;I was seen as being creative I believe. Then the gift left me, probably somewhere into puberty. The longing to express myself came back with aveangance in my early fifties….and I too discovered the camera….and having all my life noticed the detail and beauty of nature, I now see so, so much more than ever! Wonderful….

    • It’s so good that your creative drive came back to you Michelle. Your images speak clearly of your love for nature. Thank you for your kind comments.

  3. An amazing post and very beautiful photos 🙂
    I always think it is amazing how with any creative art that the artist/photographers personality come through the images 😀

    • Thank you Kyla. I think if we approach our art with an open heart our personality will always shine through. 🙂

  4. Really lovely and amazing photos. I have often felt my camera gets between me and the world but in the hands of an expert it really makes the world come alive and gives it intense detail, whether of nature or humans or joy or sorrow

  5. I think your story resonates with so many of us, our striving to ‘fit in’ and conform and not allowing ourselves to scratch our own itch, explore our unique creativity. My own dance story has followed a similar path so I understand the joy of letting go of what was holding you in place and be able to let your spirit fly, let your camera translate what you feel, beautiful, ugly, honestly and with truth. You have and always will be an inspiration.

  6. Jason your story resonates with me, as I too was hopeless at art at school, much preferring craft, modelling clay, pottery etc. I also find creativity in music as I play the saxophone. And have always had an eye to take expressive photographs.

    I liked the seascape photo best, and the raindrops and butterflies…

  7. It is wonderful to read this and see what can be done when someone really looks. I can ‘see’ but I can never capture with camera or paints what is there. But then I suppose I am one of those people who rely on people like Jason to preserve these instances.

  8. Beautiful words and exquisite pictures made even more beautiful because they come from the heart. Like you, Jason, I can’t draw and find that massively frustrating but, like you, my camera is my salvation. I’ve no training, just the blessings of a good eye for a shot that will try to remind me of Nature’s glory and her sense of humour. I particularly liked the picture of a water droplet falling off a duck you posted elsewhere…gazing into that could take a very long time. Thank you so much for sharing the story of your special gift.

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