Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying that “every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
If you were to ask a child the question “can you draw?” They are likely to respond with a resounding “yes” and a sample of their work. But, an adult is likely to qualify their response by stating something along the lines of “no, I just doodle a bit.” As a man and as an artist, I have been concerned about what my artistic endeavors say about me; would they be accepted or how would they define me?
This is probably why I identify with the words of Picasso. You see, at some point, I lost the ability to play. I became busy with the pursuit of “grown up” activities like my career and my family. My leisure pursuits were also “grown up” activities which complimented my career or were competitive in nature and therefore became socially acceptable adult pursuits. These pursuits, or activities, became a further definition of myself. None of these activities or pursuits, in and of themselves, are bad; I just lost the joy of play. Fortunately, life gets interrupted at times and the patterns we have built for ourselves can be disrupted.
So, how do we move from feeling defined by the art we create to allowing ourselves the freedom to play? The great thing about photography is that it offers a multitude of ways to help us play. We can experiment with a long exposures, we can explore moving the camera during exposure, or we can use a wide open lens to explore the effects of a limited depth of field. And, we can explore different aspects of photography as well; such as selfies or expressive photography just to name a few.
To grow as an artist it’s important to know who we are and that we are each given a distinct vision that we can pursue. And, like me, you may need to be reminded to play. To know it’s alright to color outside of the lines. To know that it is acceptable to create art for the sake of art itself. Most importantly, to know that what we create doesn’t define us. The key, as Picasso implies, is to be a bit more like a child and to play. It’s never too late to learn.