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Why Unused Creativity may be Harming your Health

What I learned at the World Domination Summit

During the first week of July this year (2012) I headed to Portland, Oregon for something called the World Domination Summit. If you just made a face, rolled your eyes or muttered some version of “what the…?” under your breath, you are not alone. I hesitated telling friends, or posting status updates on Facebook, for fear of reactions to the title.

World Domination Summit 2012
Lobby entrance to the 2012 World Domination Summit – photo credit Armosa Studios


Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend did a great job of summarizing some of the highlights of the conference. I read Scott's blog on a regular basis and met him at the conference, and can attest that he's the real deal. His site is all about finding your passion and living it, which, in a way sort of sums up the conference too. The people I met are in various places on their journey but they all had that one thing in common – passion!

Here's a few examples of people I met or saw and what they are doing:

  • I met Marthe Hagen from Norway who courageously wrote about her own personal struggles and in doing so is helping others
  • I met Benny Lewis who travels the world, learning languages and teaching others how to do it too.
  • I met Jess Green who helps people find find a creative course, I've registered my workshops on her site, Seek Your Course
  • I met Stacey and Craig who help dance studio owners build web sites
  • I met numerous writers (Cynthia Morris), literary agents, artists (Lisa Call) and artist coaches (Alyson Stanfield who's book I'd Rather Be in the Studio I have in my library – and Anita Horton) all involved in creative endeavors
  • I saw amazing keynote speakers including Scott Harrison who's small goal is to help provide clean water to 100,000,000 (thats a hundred million!) people by the end of the decade, that don't currently have access. The group he founded, Charity:water has already provided water to 2.5 million and I believe he'll make his goal.
  • I met people that live abroad and travel year round, or whenever they want, and have businesses to support that type of lifestyle
  • I met three amazing women (that's us in the photo to the right) who were also my roommates. We had never met before but hooked up on Facebook to share hotel costs. We now plan to keep in touch monthlyand help each other stay on track with our goals. We arrived as strangers, but left as friends. (Left to right: Jen Vertanen, me, Louise Wo, Sarah O'Leary)

The common thread – passion!

Are you getting the idea?! 1000 attendees and speakers, each with a great story and living an extraordinary life of passion, on their terms. So how you dominate the world will be different for you. It could simply mean dominating your own world, and killing it, as the best ever at what you do: mom, teacher, coach, blogger, travel writer, artist, executive assistant, lawyer, etc.

This was all started by a guy named Chris Guillebeau with his site and book of the same name – The Art of Non-Conformity. He's a humble guy from Porland, who's created a huge following of people the related to his message – life on your own terms. He did something extraordinary at the end of the summit. I'm not going to tell you what it is, if you want to know head over to his site and read, “The $100 Investment”, there's a video as well.

Oh and it was also a lot of fun! There was a karaoke party, Bollywood dance party in an old style dance hall, and many other official and unofficial events. I even created and led a photowalk and 40 people showed up. Having never been to Portland before, that was a bit challenging. But I took it on nonetheless, and people seemed to really enjoy themselves. Thanks to all of you that came along on the walk!

WDS2012 Portland photowalk
My photowalk group, photo courtesy James Clear (he was the man with a tripod)

Unused creativity is not benign

I experienced a huge “aha” during the opening keynote speaker, Dr. Brené Brown when she said,

“Unused creativity is not benign and doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”.

Brene Brown on stage at the World Domination Summit – photo by Armosa Studios


That hit me like a ton of bricks right in the face!

She talked about how as small children we are encouraged to express our creativity in every way – draw, sing, dance! But as we get older, suddenly there's a standard we have to measure up to and many kids end up getting stifled and their creativity is silenced.

How I was affected by this creativity standard as a child . . .

I remember being about 10 when I was told in music class that my singing voice “sounded funny” (by a classmate or teacher I don't honestly remember). So from that moment on, I never sang again. I only ever just moved my lips and pretended to sing. This continued long into adulthood, until after many personal growth courses and self help books, into my late 30s. How can this one thing affect us so greatly, and for so long?! Some never overcome this creativity squashing.

Some other new friends I met!

Now, I'm happy to go to karaoke and actually participate and sing for real. My roomie Louise sang lead for R-E-S-P-E-C-T and I was one of her back up singers at the karaoke party. I can't tell you how many people came up to me over the weekend and told me how great we were, and how much they loved it. I'm sure I don't need to explain to you how great that feels, overcoming that old hurt.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

So how does that relate to you?

You may be asking yourself that question now, why am I rambling on about this? Because I feel that a good percentage of our society has had a similar incident, or been told that something they created wasn't good enough and it had dire consequences. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What part of your creativity have you shelved for fear of not being “good enough” for someone else's standard?
  • What do you want to create but haven't? Why?
  • What is stopping you from expressing your creativity?
  • What is your story?

You are probably here because of an interest in photography. Luckily this part of me was encouraged in my teens (by supportive parents and a mentor teacher – thanks Mr. Gainer wherever you are) and it became a career. Many others are not so lucky.

Do you relate to any or all of these?

  • Stuck in a job – perhaps you feel stuck in a boring job you hate but can't quit, or don't want to leave but you feel the need to do “something”, anything!
  • Afraid – maybe you dream of doing photography as a hobby or a part-time business, but are afraid of what people will think.
  • Doubt – maybe you doubt that you have what it takes. The “not good enough” fairies dance in your head a little too often?
  • Lack an outlet – maybe you simply just need some outlet for this creativity that's been bottled up for so long and you picked up a camera – so here we are!
The Bollywood party room – this place was literally hopping for 3 hours

Help is here!!!

The good news is – you're in the right place, help is here! Sometimes I feel like what I do isn't really that important in the grand scheme of things. I can't do brain surgery and save someone's life. I haven't raised 2.5 million dollars for charity. But what I can do IS important and I've come to realize that in a big way after this summit.

Expression of creativity is key in living a happy, passionate, fulfilled life. You don't have to be a professional artist, hell you don't even have to be good at it. The biggest key is to just do it! Do something creative in your own way. Suck at it even, who cares! But enjoy it, love it, and have fun with it.

Take action now!

So what do you do now?

  • Start by getting out there and surrounding yourself with other “crazy”passionate people.
  • Find groups to meet with that like doing what you do.
  • Take some classes.
  • Meet some strangers at a conference (or coffee shop) and make friends.
  • Do something that you think is unusual, daring or downright scares your socks off
  • Do something that the people around you think is a little bit weird like going to some conference called the World Domination Summit. (Hint many of the speakers that weekend said if you get that sort of reaction to something, you're probably on the right track – to that thing!)

My challenge to you

PART ONE: I want to know your story. Answer the questions (above) in the comments, tell me your story. Tell me your fears. Tell me what you plan to do about it! Tell me how I can help. If you think you can't post it publicly, go read Marthe's story and see if you change your mind. Her article has gone viral and she's been overwhelmed with support.

PART TWO: What are you going to do to express your creativity?

For further discussion on this topic of losing our creativity, watch this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson.

Photo credits: all the photos from the conference (except the photowalk group) were taken by Armosa Studios. The group photo is by James Clear.

Cheers Darlene

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  • Nice job summing it up, Darlene! I love it! SO glad I met you and went on the photo crawl. Next year, I shall apply sunscreen to the mix!

  • Create? Me? I never thought I was creative. I would love to turn my love of photography & sharing how I see inspiration & life wisdom in everything into a part time business.
    Why? To expand people’s perception of the world and the possibilities.
    Stopping me? I have no formal training in photography. I am not a professional. I am too old. I am not techie enough. My photos are not good enough. Too many other people are already doing it. Biggest one of all, no one is going to join ‘my tribe’.
    My Story? I am over 50 and find myself challenged to really make my time my time. As a mother and a woman putting others needs before mine feels like a career in itself. I have done bzillions of enriching personal work and feel that inside I am bursting at the seems to find an outlet to share the way I see the world. I start and stop, start & stop because I have to keep trying and then the things I mentioned above emerge & I stop.

    • Rangadang

      You are not too old and why not reach for the sky. It is you people buy not just the photos.

  • Hi, Darlene!
    Thank you so much for the mention in your post, Passion. It was wonderful meeting you. Thank you again for organizing the Photo Walk. I love our group photo! 🙂 Let’s keep thinking forward and all the while, keep in touch.
    Until soon,
    Anita Horton

  • Thanks, nice recap of WDS! It was such an amazing and transformative weekend.

  • Hi Darlene. I really enjoyed your article, and salute you for diving into the conference. I found the info you provided to be interesting, and encouraging. How aweful to think that if not used the creative force is squashed like a bug. I really didn’t like to hear that. When I was looking for a new direction for work I put that side of me away .
    Thank goodness that there is still some creativety left behind to work with 🙂

  • Lura

    I have a husband who isn’t very creative and doesn’t see the need for me to have a creative outlet. He insists that I cannot quit my job to pursue my dreams.(good thing I work part time;)) I have an appointment with a corporate attorney in a few weeks to get the ball rolling on my own photography business. Guess who is going to have the last laugh?????????

  • Darlene

    Thanks everyone for your comments and your bravery to be honest!

    @Cynthia – yes we don’t want you as the lobster girl next year! Glad to have met you as well!

    @Karen – pretty common things I hear from several of my clients and students actually, especially in our age bracket (45-55). So how can I support you? What do you need to feel encouraged? If you don’t get it at home, how can you get it elsewhere?

    @Marlene it’s worse than that, it isn’t just wasted – it turns into anger and resentment.

    @Lura where are you located that you need a corporate lawyer to start a small business? I don’t think I even had one until 5-6 years into my business. Are you planning on incorporating right off the top? If that is your dream then no one should squash it. Same thing I ask Karen, if you don’t get support at home, make sure you surround yourself with like minded people in other ways. Find a MettUp group, join the Chamber of Commerce, find a blog (he he, like this one) where you relate and feel at home. You need to find a sense of belonging and community. It has been said that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with in your life. If you don’t like the total, change the people. I’m not suggesting you get rid of your husband, but perhaps add other new people in!

  • Darlene Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words of encouragment. I am a mother of 3 young ones (all under 5) and got serious into photography (taking clasees, reading books, following blogs like yours, etc.) a few years ago. I LOVE being behind the camera but I can relate with both the “fear” and “doubt” bullet points. I have tried to offer discounted services to people so that I can build up clients and get some experience but have not had any success as of yet. Luckily I have a mostly supportive husband (I just wish I could justify photography purchases with my own earned money). I guess I am leaving a comment just so that others can see maybe they are not alone in their struggles and to say thanks for giving me a push to continue on in my struggles and not give up.

    • Darlene

      Stacy thank you for reading and for sharing. I feel like I need to write more of this kind of post because so many people can relate to it on a deeper level than just “how to take nice photos”. I appreciate your honestly and willingness to be vulnerable and share with strangers and the world. I think you’re right, sharing is what brings us closer together and could help someone else who is more afraid to do so or just go for what they want.

  • Mitch Selznick

    Thanks for the posting. I am beginning to feel a confluence of creativity around me. My wife is a great believer of The Secret and is an avid follower of TED talks. The other day Pete Collins posted an inspirational post featuring Dr Brown. It made me appreciate that I am very good with my photography. To read your post today, and see Dr Brown’s name again this week just makes me feel there maybe something to putting ideas out to the universe and that they do come back. Thank you for reminding me not to hold back on my creativity.

  • Darlene I had no idea that ignoring my creative urges could lead to anger and resentment. I’ve known for a long time that anger is poison, and had no idea that it could be created by not using god given creativity. The concept of making a living from my creativity is a new one, and I see your blogs, and travels to be proof that it is possible.
    As far as the ashes of creativity acting on the body goes, I believe the removal of my gallbladder this week to be proof of that. Louise Hay’s ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ confirms this.
    Please do continue with this kind of post Darlene. It’s is the right time for it, and as you can see it’s helping each of us in different ways.

    • Darlene

      This poem just came across my desk and thought it was so apropos for this discussion I have to share:

      It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Albert Guest

      Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
      But, he with a chuckle replied
      That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
      So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
      He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

      Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one has done it”;
      But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
      With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
      He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

      There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure;
      There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
      But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
      Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.

  • Darlene

    Mitch – you’re most welcome. Deep down we all have the same fears that we’re not good enough in some capacity. Acting in spite of that fear is what separates those that do from those that dream. Get out there and DO!

    Marlene – wow you’re having your gall bladder out!? Thank you, I do feel like this is the right direction for not only me, but for everyone. There are too many people living “existences” and not truly LIVING life to the fullest. There is too much fear, anger and hate in the world. We need more creativity, love and acceptance. I think it’s time we all get passionate about something and just do it.

    What does Louise say about gall bladders?

  • Steve

    Awesome post Darlene! I had an AH HA! moment when I read this “Unused creativity is not benign and doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”. Probably much like you did when you first heard it. Now I just want to go and spew out creativity all over the place! I unfortunately listened to the nay sayers to much growing up when they said things like “you can’t be a rock star don’t be ridiculous” “You can’t be an actor don’t be ridiculous” “You can’t be (insert anything creative) don’t be ridiculous”. I’ve had to push my creativity down into the hidden recesses of my body for far too long. I have let it come out from time to time only to be pushed back down again by listening to those old doubtful voices planted in my head in my formative years…damn those voices!! I’m not going to listen to them anymore! Loved this post 🙂

    • Darlene

      Yes it was an “aha” moment for me, literally I almost fell out of my chair. Glad you liked it – since there has been such a great responses to this article there will be more like it in the near future, I promise! Thanks for reading.

  • This is a really great article. The real eye opener for me is that WDS is for everyone, I always thought it was for groundbreaking entrepreneurs with world changing ideas. I will have to look hard at WDS 2013!

    To answer your questions:

    > What part of your creativity have you shelved for fear of not being “good enough” for someone else’s standard?

    My creativity has been reignited in my 30s (now 35). For years it felt that science and art were mutually exclusive. At school it was one or other on syllabus and I excelled at science and sucked at art and music, so the creative in me died before it had a chance to live. As a software development manager now I love photography (a big part of my father and grandfather’s life) and can produce imagery I love. I think the IT and photography thing gels because of the union of geek and artist more than most creative pursuits. My creativity is no longer shelved but I’m dying to use it professionally, I love it beyond words. But I’m also scared to death.

    >What do you want to create but haven’t?  Why?

    I want to create more great imagery, travelling to great locations for prolonged and purposeful image making – not even exotically, there are so many great locations here in the UK. Work (time), family (commitments), money all hold me back.

    >What is stopping you from expressing your creativity?

    As above. So much gets in he way and as a hobby, however serious, or even a potential lifeline it’s difficult to carve dedicated time. It’s easy to find an hour here or there, but a week to explore Scotland’s mountains is nigh impossible.

    >What is your story?

    Covered above mostly. I hate my job and the 4 things above resonate with me. Hate is perhaps too strong a word, I just don’t care about it an am not at all engaged with it. I’m full time thinking about photography. I’m building a website and looking to online tutorials, workshops and mentoring as a way to escape IT but the difference in money is huge. I know I can’t do his based on image sales and that teaching is important. But the market feels so saturated and despite knowing I have a lot to share, doing my own shooting, experiencing more, having a wider portfolio seem like reasons to keep a well paid job and not take the plunge. But I know I will be saying that in 10 years…

    As much as people tell me how great I am (in my eyes fain praise) and how I feel I can do this, a large part of me knows I will fail. Knowing – rather than fearing – holds me back, and I struggle to disentangle procrastination and risk aversion from common sense and pragmatism. With a family, failing seems like the end of the world.

    • Darlene

      Wow Duncan, I’m moved at your honesty and willingness to share! I’m no expert but in my own unprofessional opinion that’s half the battle. You’ve just expressed and verbalized what many people internalize and never spit out and it ends up eating them alive from the inside. So keep that momentum going, doing something creative now!

      Okay so I get you have a job and you need to provide for your family so quitting any time soon isn’t a viable option. So rather than concentrate on what you can’t do – let’s talk about what you CAN do? What can you do right now, today, in your own home even that is creative? You don’t need to spend a week in the Scottish mountains (as fabulous as that sounds) you can find creative opportunities everywhere, at any given time.

      If you haven’t already done so please sign up for my newsletter using the form on the main page (or on the right side bar at the top of this page) and download my free ebook 10 Challenges to help you improve your photography without buying more gear. I give you 10 challenges or exercises you can do anywhere to get the creative muse active.

      As for “knowing” that you’ll fail – well in my world there are only two things that are guaranteed – death and taxes. Failure is up for debate! 😉

  • Hehe, you asked for my story so there it is right there 🙂

    I’m very aware that my situation isn’t unique – I think most people have something they are passionate about that they would rather be doing with their life but feel trapped by circumstance. Sometimes that circumstance is perceived rather than real, but often there are real, valid reasons for not being able to do what you love. I think one of the problems is that we’re impatient, we want it now and it should be possible to flick a switch and go from where we are to where we want to be instantly. The reality is that it’s a journey and with focused intent we get further down the road each day. It’s us driving the car, we just have to get the speed right.

    In terms of what I am doing, I am active and I’m “digging my escape tunnel”! I’ve been photographing for several years, think my work has improved a lot and dedicate most of my spare time to its pursuit in one way or another. I know I need to keep working at it daily as my “side hustle” and that one day perhaps a tipping point will come where it does become a realistic career for me. The good thing is that my creative muse is very much active and alive and well, I just need to build and sustain momentum alongside my current job. My next big thing is to finish my website and build an active blog.

    On the “knowing I’ll fail” thing, I can be pretty hard on myself and full of self-doubt. I think (hope!) most of us are but I need to make sure it’s not debilitating. What I mean is that I know that success won’t be generating the same money as my current job and that presents certain challenges for me and my family. I would define success as supporting my family whilst spending the majority of my waking hours pursuing something I love. By “knowing” I know that current circumstance won’t allow that, so I need to change circumstances (and the pain that may bring my wife and family) to allow that to succeed.

    Whilst often hard on myself, I am very conscious and mindful of the things that I am doing and where I’m trying to get and making sure I move the ball forward everyday, and now I’m trying to improve my yardage 🙂

    Thanks again for the thought provoking article, and your challenge!

    ps apologies for typos above, fat fingers and iPad keyboards are a poor match 😉

  • Darlene: Sorry I’m late getting here. I’m still catching up from WDS and my week in Oregon. #williteverhappen?

    It was super to meet you at WDS. You have fantastic photos here and it bums me out that I didn’t just follow you around all weekend.

    I love that you found a tribe of roommates to stay in touch with.

    I truly appreciate your mention here.

    • Darlene

      Thanks for your comment Alyson, it means a lot. It was super meeting you too. Hopefully we can do it again next year and increase the size of our baby boomer breakfast!

  • I used to love art, and because I love writing children’s picture books, I’d like to be good enough to do my own illustrations. Text and illustrations have to really meld for the book to be great. I’ve tried out some for myself, using photos and collage but haven’t yet worked up the courage to put it together. Photography is giving me a creative outlet that satisfies some of the need.

    • Hi Maureen, that’s awesome thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Darlene,

    I love photography, macro in particular, and writing short stories. Your article is very inspiring. I recently started a 365 Project whereby I take a photo a day and post it (in my website and on Facebook). I started December 1, 2012 and have recently realized just how much I love, love, love taking photos. I still don’t think I’m good enough or “normal” enough to start a part-time business because I don’t do portraits and weddings. I photograph objects, ordinary everyday objects… and I LOVE it! So now I’m doing what I want to do. I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun with it.


    • Being a pro isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be so I wouldn’t worry about that so much. Just keep doing it because you love it!

  • MountainSage

    What a great talk from Sir Ken Robinson. I greatly enjoyed it and found it very thought provoking.

    I think my story answers all of the questions.

    I was raised in a stressful atmosphere, one in which individuality and creativity wasn’t encouraged. For many years, only one person had a voice in the family and that voice was full of perfectionism, rules, regulations, and the idea that everything one did should be reasonable and responsible. Creativity was considered to be frivolous.

    That was the beginning of the stifling of creativity for me, but not the whole story. Starting at about age 13, an avalanche of physical pain smothered my creativity. Since that time, 24/7 pain, pain that sometimes takes my breath away, has dogged my every step and nipped at the heels of my creative walk. Since I refuse to live life in a drug induced haze, I live my life investing my mind and emotions into dealing with pain in such a way as to not smother others in gloom, doom, and negativity.

    I am finally accepting that I have and will always have certain physical limitations and my acceptance is freeing me up to explore my creativity within the parameters of my life as it is. I’ll never visit exotic foreign lands or climb to the mountaintops, but I can explore the world around me, no matter how big or small it may be at any given time.

    So, it is those things that have held me back. But, I have a goal. It will probably sound like a very small goal to most people, but it is mine nonetheless. I want to one day take THE picture……the one that I look at and am satisfied and filled with joy for having taken it. It matters little what others think of it, only that I KNOW that it is the best picture I have ever taken.

    • where is the rest of your long comment? I wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It is very moving your story I hope you didn’t delete the rest of it as I think you have a lot to share and can help others. For yourself I think your goal is admirable and know you will attain it!

      • MountainSage

        Guilty – I think I felt a little naked afterwards. I can re-write it, though. Just thought maybe it was too much information.

        • No not at all. I think when we are our most vulnerable is when we learn the most and grow, and it allows people to connect with us. I know I felt drawn to engage with you after I read it. I think others will too.

          • MountainSage

            Thank you very much. I re-wrote it.

  • MountainSage

    I think my story answers all of the questions.

    I was raised in a home where creativity wasn’t encouraged. It was often a very stressful home and stress is stifling. There was really only one voice in the home, one filled with rules, regulations, responsibility, and calls for reasonableness. It was there the death of my creativity started, but that isn’t the whole story. Starting at age 16, I experienced an avalanche of physical pain. Since then, it has been unrelenting most of the time, often 24/7 pain. Pain dogs the heels of my creative walk.

    I refuse to live in a haze of drugs for pain so I exert much of my emotional and mental energies coping with pain. I make it a priority to not inflect my pain on others as it is easy to blame pain for grouchiness and other behavior that could affect those around me in a negative manner. In spite of the pain, I love life.

    When I am confined physically, I use memories to keep me positive. During times when the pain was not so bad, I hiked in the Arizona desert, and visited Mexico. I stood at the top of Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains of AZ. I got friendly enough to exchange pleasantries with some of the artisans in Los Algodones, Mexico. I witnessed a Phoenix sunset.I stood at the southernmost tip of the U.S. in Key West and watched Russian ships go by on their way to Cuba. I experienced Sunset Pier in Key West, and I shopped in the shops of Little Havana in Miami. I worked and played in our nation’s capital. As a child I visited Quebec and Toronto, Canada. I drove across country by myself, from Virginia Beach, VA to Tucson, AZ, and enjoyed much of the beauty this country has to offer. I watched the clouds play across the sky and leave shadows on the red rocks of New Mexico. That’s as exotic as I can hope for as, once again, pain crashes down. My greatest regret is those times came before I got into photography. I have few pictures of those times except those in my mind and I can only convey those with my words.

    I’m finally coming to terms and accepting that I have physical limitations and always will. I will not travel to foreign exotic locations. My last plane trip from Virginia to Arizona may very well be my last plane trip….it’s just too physically taxing. I will not climb a soaring, famous mountain, but I can drive to the top of those close to me. I can make the most of the beauty around me and look for creative opportunities and unusual photographic opportunities.

    I have set a goal. To many people it will seem like a small, maybe even silly, goal but it is mine, nonetheless. I want to someday take THE photograph. THE photograph is the one I take and am filled with joy for having taken it and feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

    So, I’ll read and learn here and on Digital Photography School. I’ll read photography books, maybe take some more college photography classes, and take MANY more photos as I pursue my goal.

    I think we all have some blocks to creativity, whether they be physical or emotional, but we don’t have to give in and give up.

  • This really hit home for me today. I was feeling especially beat down and lacking creativity or motivation. I got into photography in high school doing b&w film. I used my dads old camera and we kind of connected and he was excited that I found photography and was enjoying it so much. And I was pretty good at it according to my teacher! We had assignments to do but most of mine were landscape based or capturing an event. I then moved onto digital when my dad gave me a DSLR for college graduation. He was thrilled I was still shooting. This is where it all started to go down hill.
    I was tired of taking the traditional path of going to college and getting a full time job and getting married and having kids. So I moved up to Breckenridge to work for the ski resort for the winter. This didn’t set so well with my parents who helped pay for my college. Well one year turned into 3 before I knew it. While I was up there I was feeling stuck shooting landscapes because every photography shop was filled with them and I didn’t feel I was good enough. So I started looking at magazines and seeing that the lifestyle shots revolving around snowboarding were cool and edgy. They had female models with just a winter coat on. So I decided to try recreating some of these images. My parents hated that I was shooting risqué and vulgar images.
    So now I was living in Breck still doing the ski bum thing and shooting more pictures with models. Some were around the snowboard lifestyle and some implied nude and nude images. I remember one night getting a call from my parents saying they were “embarrassed of me and that I was a better person than that.” They said they wanted me to quit shooting that and go back to landscapes like they enjoyed.
    I have been unemployed for a few months now and have been struggling with getting a 9-5 job that doesn’t challenge me or encourage my creativity. I have been plugging myself into my photography and growing in that. I found a camp up in Mt. Hood, Oregon that I would work with professional snowboard photographers and develop my skills and shoot lifestyles as well. I was really excited about this and some photo-shoots with models and told my parents and all I heard was criticism. They said that I need to focus on a job and not on my photography. Not only is it “a disgrace to the family” but is just a hobby.
    I would give anything to be able to go up to the camp in Mt. Hood to pursue my love of snowboard photography and work with pro snowboarders and do lifestyle shots as well. I can’t even imagine how happy I would be shooting the type of adds that inspired my work with models. This article gave me a little more hope but I don’t know how to get where I want to go. Being unemployed and in debt I can’t go to the camp to get my foot in the door. I feel stuck…
    I am afraid to get a 9-5 job that I don’t enjoy but am afraid if I don’t I won’t have money to live on. I want to pursue my passion for photography but am afraid of failing because there are so many snowboarders who want to be a snowboard photographer and so many landscape photographers.
    I don’t know what to do… I’m stuck between a rock and another rock and a hard place!

    • Thanks for your honest and touching comment. I’ve heard this before and it’s sad but you have to listen to one person and one only when deciding what to do with your life – YOU! If you do something you hate you’ll end up regretting it later. I know too many people that just “exist” and don’t live. Get my drift?

      I’m going to suggest you read this book:

      and if you’re anywhere near Portland in July come and hang out during this conference

      Tickets are sold out but I know lots of people doing “unconferencing” and just hanging out with others and unofficial events and extras like:

      The thing everyone has in common is living life on their own terms. I think it would resonate and you’d find more support there with your “peeps”.

      • Thanks Darlene! I know I need to listen to myself but I am sending myself mixed signals!! I don’t think I will be able to make the conference this year due to no coin in my pocket but I think once I do get some money I will be going to events like this to inspire me and also go to camps and workshops to better my photography… sounds like the most fun and best way to spend that money. Invest in my future… but until then just keep working on my craft!

        • Best of luck, keep on being true to yourself. Get clear on what you want and stop telling yourself fibs. We all do it.

  • Gail Fulkerson

    I, too, was born into a dysfunctional family, where control was de rigeur. Physical, mental, emotional control; unrelenting. I married young to get away from it, but I ended up taking it all with me. My first husband brought his brand of dysfunction to the mix and, with mine we created our own blend of abnormal normality. From a young age creativity was stifled for the most part except for colouring in the pictures in colouring books and ‘art’ classes throughout the school years. Self-expression was largely unheard of in my world; any inkling of having personal power was threatening and scary beyond words.
    It wasn’t all gloom and doom, however. The creative spark made itself known over the years and when it did, I wrote stories and, when I could afford to buy myself a camera, I started to take photographs.
    Writing stories allowed me to express emotions that had been buried deeply for far too long. Being able to put them into story form got them outside of me, which relieved the inner pressure and allowed me to reflect without fear on the feelings I had been suffocating and had been suffocated by. Those who can ‘see’ can read my inner life between the lines of the stories I write.
    Photography allowed me to have pictures of beautiful things I did not have the talent to draw. It also gave me a creative outlet whereby I could express some of the beauty I see in the world around me. I opened an account in ViewBug in July 2014 and have entered a number of my photos in a bunch of contests on the website.
    I am on the journey of a lifetime. I see me, both the light and dark sides, with each step I take along the way. My creative spark dims and brightens, similar to the tides or the phases of the moon. I still struggle with fear and self-doubt, yet lately I find that choosing to ignore the voices of fear and self-doubt is a much more positive and fulfilling way to live.If I had listened to the voices telling me not to write this because others would ‘know too much about me’, well, none of the foregoing would exist.

    Thanks for the opportunity to express myself.

    • Wow thank you for sharing of yourself Gail your story is truly inspirational. I’m glad you’ve found a way to express what has been suppressed for so long. Keep taking photos and sharing with us!

  • jesus

    La fotografia es apasionante,creativa e innovadora, agradecido por el libro y por compartir los conocimientos sobre este tema, deseandole exitos para que continue impartiendo sus conocimientos. Gracias.

  • Jacques Hervieux


  • Jacques Hervieux

    IT work’s!!

    You wake up one morning and realize it just isn’t working any more, things are not as they should be. You feel stunnted. Your brain is congested, the flow is just not there any more. Work , eat, sleep work eat sleep workeatsleepwork..kind of does that to you. The why,when,where,how and who are not important, waking up is, knowing that it just isn’t you that’s what matters. Now waking up thy creativity has become a screaming need, every day it works at my gut. For the last couple of years, since I bought my company, I have abadonned even trying to get back into the flow, but I can’t deny it no more. Photography has been for a long time part of things I like to do. in the last 5 years I’ve accumulated over 15,000 picture mostly with my phone and a point&shoot. I have moved on now to a pentax dslr, because I feel I can accomplish more, I want to accomplish more. I have surfed online for some kind of tutoring,but was quite unsatisfied. ‘Til I came here and something clicked(pun intented).
    I’m not going to devle much into my past, I have made peace and accepted for what it was, it has made me who I am and generally I am happy with myself. I did live in a disfunctunal family. My parents did their best with the bagage they had, today I can that I love them. Most of my childhood was spent in the forest, schooled by my mother, but by the older natives that worked for my parents. They where people who still lived the old ways, refusing to be caged,living as their parents and their parents before had. I learnt to live with and respect the land. Today I doubt many of these people still are. Being mostly with adults I quickly picked up there ways and was by my mid-teens already abusing alchool and drugs. Things got out of hand when I left for the big town and did things my way, the party lasted till i was 40. i have been now sober for 5 years, did it all on my own(am proud of this achievement). The thing is my creativity seemed to flow with it. It has been harder and harder to draw, write and even find creative solutions and more so lately.
    Today I have a great wife and three beautiful sons, a house in the country and a flourishing company. All of which bring me much. But there is something missing, something that wants to come out roaring but seem can’t. The company does bring much but is also time consuming and i do sometime and more and more often have my doubts about it. We help people and I do appriciate that side, but are a destructive business we are in pest management. We do are best to minimize the application of poissons and use other ways, but the bottom line is that we kill and kill again.
    I believe this is why I’m trying to creat again, balance things out some. And for me, it’s part of me even though I can’t seem to access it at the moment.
    The article on “World domination” was just fabulous, the rest is just what the doctor ordered, thanks.

    I will in a few minutes download my first exercise(10 pics of one object) on G+. Look for Jacques Hervieux. Looking forward to hear from you.

    • Thank you Jacques for sharing your story and I’m glad it has “clicked” with you. Welcome!

  • Mandy Baldwin

    I have always been creative until about 15 years ago, when ‘we’ my partner and i decided on a sea change. We swapped a seven day a week job for a seven day a week job. I stopped looking at the clouds in the sky looking for faces and animals, I looked at the sky and saw rain and shadows, now i can’t get my washing dry. It was all about work. When i was not at work working. I was at home working.
    Every day trying to carve a slice of the hours for me to create something, anything. Never even reaching my goal.
    It never worked and I shelved all my creativity placed it all in a box “for another day”…
    Well, the clouds have parted it has stopped raining and now at the beginning of my more mature life cycle…
    I once again have the urge, there are so many boxes of creativity being opened in the spare room….I just don’t know which one to start, or to finish or to develop….
    Have I unleashed the creative monster?
    The best box of all was the one I opened on Christmas Morning…
    A brand spanking new camera, yes and some thoughtful person did charge the battery…
    That camera, and my inexperience has seen me, dripping drops of honey on the concrete… what do the ant’s do?
    mmm…how can i photograph them.
    That guy, at the chainsaw exhibit, see how close I could photograph his foot whilst he carved the piece of timber.
    I am once again seeing the little stuff.
    “Smelling life’s roses”.

    • Mandy – I’m so glad you shared your story and for your new found path. I think you also have a way with words so perhaps consider combining your images and words some day.

      I wish you luck on this journey and enjoy it for just that – don’t worry about the destination just hang on and go for a ride.

  • Elaine Hutchings

    I was fortunate to be born into an artistic family. My mother was a professional musician. My father was a professional wedding photographer for Kodak.

    I don’t think I’ve ever let anything stop me from being creative. I don’t think that is even possible for me. I’ve always been doing something creative like beading, drawing, painting, chalkboards for businesses, exotic cooking, interior design etc.

    I became a professional artist when I was 26. I was a little unsure of myself at first but overcame that just because I was way too busy to be dwelling on my insecurities. Also, the first time you sell your work or are invited to show in a gallery, it changes everything.

    Now my favorite creative outlet is photography. It’s a bit expensive for me in my current situation but I’m managing to slowly add to my collection of lenses and accessories.

    I would very much like to enter the world of portrait photography. Due to a physical disability keeping me mostly housebound, I don’t get out much to meet people and don’t know anyone in my new city. I believe that will change when my immediate environment changes sometime this year. I’m very excited about that! I hope to be around more people in the near future.

    I peruse a lot of fantastic photography online. Sometimes I have moments where I think I should give up because I’ll never be as good as all the wonderful photographers out there, or that I will never be able to climb a mountain to get a shot like that. Those moments pass quickly because I just can’t help myself. All I have to do to get my mojo back on track is hold my camera or read articles written by photographers, and before I can say quit I’m out there looking for insects and flowers or on my mobility scooter to the river to see wildlife and sunsets.
    New equipment to learn is great for inspiration also. The cost alone will force you to get out there so you can say you didn’t waste your $$$.

    I learn online about photography techniques and equipment and now am happy to join these classes by Darlene so that I can hopefully become a better photographer. I have much yet to learn & I’m happy about that.
    Thank you so much Darlene!

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