As our photography group progresses, we’ve been challenged to explore our “creative breakthroughs.” I’ve never thought of myself as an artist, or even a photographer in a formal sense; but I am creative. Until recently my sole medium has been language and words. Discovering photography as a way to tell stories was the most significant creative breakthrough I’ve had.
Looking back through my Inspiration File and library of photographs I see flashes of inspiration and personal magic. In a nutshell, the moments of creative breakthrough come when I allow my camera to become simply an extension of seeing and when I’m learning something new. If I could pinpoint one element that comes across in all of my favorite photos, it would be those times when I’m relaxed and enjoying the moment.
As I’ve mentioned previously, my husband and I enjoy exploring zoos, gardens and aquariums. These are also the places where I feel comfortable learning to use my camera and trying out different aspects. One of my favorite pictures was taken last Halloween while visiting our local zoo for “ZooBoo.” The orangutans were enjoying Halloween “treats” (aka carrots and grapes) as part of the ongoing enrichment programs. I love the expression and the demeanor of our eldest female as she demanded her treats from the docent.
copyright 2013, Stephanie Maatta Smith
Another favorite photo was taken not long after acquiring my DSLR and while learning to use some of the features. We were visiting a botanical garden in time for our local tulip festival celebrations. Everything came together for me in the light, background and contrasts.
Something that I've discovered about my photography is moments of stress block me from "seeing." While some folk do their best work when angry or depressed, my mind and vision need to be clear in order to be creative -- happens with my writing as well.