When Im playing, art happens. So often, creativity starts with playing. And by play, I mean the sheer pleasure of doing, with no thought as to where its going. Im not thinking about whether or not the final image will sell, meet with approval, or fit into an existing or future series. Im just having fun. There are many of these images in my repertoire, which have never been printed for exhibit or used commercially. But I learned from them and laughed with their sudden appearance.
Play is a way to get out of the box of perceived techical limitations, letting my mind soar off into space with no constraints. Its surprising what will arise when we discard the limiting thoughts of what we think is technically possible, or what we think is good art. The image below is a compilation of several photos, each snapped during play time, with no idea that they would someday be used together.
Have you ever awakened in the morning and thought, “What an amazing dream that was! I wonder if I could make a picture of it?” Well, thats what I set out to do, and after six hours on the computer, voila! So in this case, the dream (and who knows where that comes from) and the thought, “I wonder if. . .” ignited a play time that carried me through several hours of concentation without any notion of meals or responsibilies or agenda.
The final image doesnt look much like the dream, but it has the same feel. Thats the funny thing about creativity. You start out thinking you know what youre going to do, but then it morphs into something else. Luckily, I already had pictures of grizzlies, and I had recently played around with astronomy images from a process that was published in Photoshop User magazine: https://www.photoshopuser.com/ I rarely use elements in a photo that I did not actually take with my own camera or create from scratch in Photoshop. Though I modified the cosmic elements in this photo, the original source is from NASA FITS files using Photoshop FITS Liberator. I needed human eyes for the bear, so I had to take a picture of my own. Perhaps a future tweak will be to change the eyes to luminous blue-green eyes, as that is more consistent with the dream.
In the dream, the bear was walking a trail in the forest. Not so unusual, except that the feeling of the dream was far more cosmic. I often find that in order to stay true to the original sense of place, I have to alter the image to communicate what it felt like to be there. A bear walking out of the forest is not so exceptional. A bear coming forth from the cosmos, with human eyes, gets my attention.
By the way, theres nothing that inspires play more than going on an outing with another hopelessly addicted photographer, equipped with every photographic toy you have ever purchased, including some that were never intended for a camera. That is how I get many of the components for future images, not knowing at the time if or when I will use them.
Just playing — but in the process, we open up another dimension of “seeing.”