Creativity and Inspiration

The Power of Constraint


I spent the last 4 days on Vancouver Island on a beach near Ucluelet. Gorgeous. Passing whales. Beer. Hammock. Silence. My girl and a couple dear friends. Some beautiful light too, and though I didn’t go to make photographs I did take an hour each evening to play.

We just finished the inaugural The Created Image seminar here in Vancouver ( and we’re already planning for 2014. Want to be notified when details come available? Give us your name and email address here and you’ll be the first to know). We hosted 30 photographers who wanted to spend a couple days having their brains crammed to bustin’ with teaching about creativity, composition, visual language, editing, and a bunch of unplanned little digressions from me. One of the things I talked about, and this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been caught in the middle of one of my sermons about creativity, is the power of constraints.

We need constraints. They force our hands creatively, and while many advocate embracing constraints, I suggest we go one better and create them. So while I was in Ucluelet I found a stretch of rocky beach just feet from my tent and imposed a constraint, and for three evenings I made images that had to have one of two sets of logs and/or the small distant island as a compositional element. Nothing else. These constraints gave me the field in which to play and, un-paralyzed by the vast choices I might otherwise have had, I got down to business. I’m not sure if these images are much more than sketches at this point, but I sure enjoyed myself and came away with some new ideas. The next time you’re out with your camera, consider creating some constraints and see if it doesn’t propel you forward more than it holds you back.

20130715-Ucluelet-13 20130716-Ucluelet-63 20130715-Ucluelet-53 20130715-Ucluelet-39 20130715-Ucluelet-37

Tomorrow it’s a flight to Sandspit on Haida Gwaii, then a float plane back to the Ocean Light II on which I spent a week last month in the Khutzeymateen. I’ll be gone for a week, absorbed in the seastars, wind, orcas, and light of northern British Columbia. Then not long after that it’s a week+ in Bali for the What If Conference, and not long after that a month in the Jeep back up towards the arctic to see the colours turn and the northern lights dance. Busy time but it means a return to field work and the wild places I love. I’ll check in as often as I can, I promise.

Jul 8th


Comments Comments 24
CategoryPosted in: Creativity and Inspiration, The Craft, The Life Creative

Why Sketch?

I’m a big believer in sketch photographs, making frames you know aren’t working but have some idea in them you want to explore. The alternative is to believe that all the images I make that don’t work the way I had hoped are failures and I don’t believe in the notion of failure in creative […]


BUY ISSUE THREE Today we released the most recent issue of PHOTOGRAPH, our digital magazine for creative photographers. As always it’s packed with incredible portfolios and Q+A, this time from Hengki Koentjoro, Dave Delnea, and Kevin Clark. They’re all amazing but if you’ve not seen Hengki’s work, you need to, it’s breathtaking. And there are […]

Page 5 of 17« First...3456710...Last »