Listen To Yourself

December 1, 2018 | Leave a Comment |

Glory I

You can learn a lot just by listening to yourself. Listen not only to the words you actually say, usually to others, but also to the words you use in your inner dialog. When you speak about yourself, your creative life, and the works you produce, the words you use can be very revealing. They mean something to you. You chose them. Often you do this without realizing it and once you do new depths become open to you.

Ask yourself …

Do you keep repeating specific words?

Do you use different words that all point to similar meanings, orientations, or attitudes?

Do the words you use share common concerns?

Do you tend to use more nouns (things), verbs (actions), or adjectives and adverbs (qualities)?

Do you tend to speak actively or passively?

Do you tend to speak in the past, present, or future tense?

It’s best if your observations about the words you use are made without judgment. Simply make observations. It can be helpful to expand your statements; say more to describe it better and find its connections to other things. After that, it can help to distill it all back down to what’s most important. If you do this you’ll feel freer, clearer, and more energized.

Becoming more aware of your concerns and attitudes will ultimately help you make more considered choices about your actions, reactions, emotional responses, and even self-image.

This newfound awareness can be used to inform the images you make, how you make them, the images you select, how you sequence them, how you process them, and how you present them.

Thinking too much about the words you use while you’re using them can get in the way. When this happens, record yourself and listen to it later.

It only takes one important observation to make the practice of observing how you speak extremely worthwhile – sometimes it leads to breakthroughs.

I recommend you make this a constant practice to savor the qualities of your everyday experiences that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

 

Read more in my Creativity Resources.

Learn more in my Creativity Workshops.

Quotes_Words_425

Enjoy this collection of quotes about the power of Words.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

“Words to me were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power.” – Amy Tan

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

“Words are loaded pistols.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” ― Aldous Huxley

Read more

Arabesque I, White Sands, New Mexico, 2003

 In 2002 I went to White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. I photographed for an evening and a morning, exposing twelve rolls of film. When I returned I found two ‘keepers’ and counted myself lucky. It’s my feeling we’re lucky if one percent of the exposures we make are worth presenting.

This image was much more subtly surreal than many of my other images and didn’t fit neatly into the work I was currently developing. I found it presented a very useful creative challenge to me. Yet I was uncertain how to begin and take steps to resolve it.

I lived with the image in my dining room, looking at it both casually and seriously, several times a day for an extended time. I not only collected my own impressions but also the impressions other people share with me. It felt good when my father commented one day, “That’s a good one. You’ve managed to avoid all the west coast clichés.” But I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. Much later, my father-in-law squinted and asked, “Is that water?” Instantly I knew I had found what I was looking for. I wasn’t photographing grains of sand, I was photographing the waves that moved them.

I returned to White Sands to develop a body of work around this theme. As I moved through the dunes, I constantly returned to the word wave, asking, “How many ways can I make photographs of waves in this environment.” Photographing for the same amount of time and making the same number of exposures I found ten ‘keepers’; the clarity I had found in one word dramatically increased my productivity.

Walking out of the dunes I took shelter in the shade of a park sign that explained how “these dunes move three feet a month”. I had intuitively sensed this and it got into my work. Now my conscious mind had more information to work with and a direction to give it.

While looking at the new set of related images I quickly realized that they related both thematically and formally to another series of images – seascapes in fog, Condensation. This new body of work bridged my desert and seas work. One realization cascaded into another. Waves are a common theme that runs through a majority of my work.

This image reminds me of the power of words. When I first made it, I couldn’t put it into words. Words help me find out more about where I’ve been, where I’m going, and where I want to go. Words helped me understand what I had done and what I wanted to do next. Words helped me understand my life, my work, and myself. Time and time again, I’ve found the power of words to be extremely helpful.

How many ways can putting your experiences into words help you make stronger images?

Find more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.

In my Death Valley digital photography workshop, Craig Colvin discovered the power of words and of metaphor. When he made images he’d find the words that described the relationships in the image before making the exposures. Solitude. Community. Birth. Loss. He found that by using the power of words he saw things differently and he saw new things. A few simple words, the right words, unlocked hidden potentials within the subject and within himself.

How can words help unlock your creativity?
How many ways can you think of to integrate them into your creative process?

Read more in my creativity lessons.
Find out more about my Death Valley digital photography workshop.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

artistsstatements

It’s important to learn how to make the visual verbal, by crafting artist’s statements. Many artists feel that images are better seen and not heard. I understand their point of view. But, face it, things will be said and written about your images. If you don’t do it, someone else will. You might as well become involved in the process. After all, as the author, this is one arena where your words are definitive.

You don’t have to be a professional writer to write. Just write. Write like you speak. Write with your voice.

Like making images, writing is a process, a process of making thoughts and feelings clearer. Often, you don’t know what shape the final product will take, until you finish.

At first, I resisted writing about my images. Now, I find the process so valuable that I’ve made it a part of my artistic process. Every time a new body of work arises, I write. When I’m ready to release a book of the work, I write again. As a result of writing, I gain a better understanding of the work I did, the work I’m doing, and the work I’m going to do. So do the people who see my images, surprisingly, even if they don’t read what I write.

This is an excerpt from a longer essay Artists’ Statements. Download it here.

Read my artist’s statements here.

Read the text from three recent books here.

Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing Workshops.


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