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Curious Frame - Issue #40 - On Creativity

Curious Frame
Curious Frame - Issue #40 - On Creativity
By Leanne Staples • Issue #40 • View online
For some reason I had thought that I already wrote on creativity for a previous issue. I guess that I’ve been dancing around the topic without actually delving into it.
That said, many of the subjects of the issues overlap and none of them are entirely complete. I am still working out many of my ideas about photography. Like the act of shooting, there’s always something new.
Thank you for following my journey trying to understand what it is that photography means to us. I’m always looking for what lies below the surface. What do all these photos that bombard our field of vision say and how can we as photographers create photos that reflect who we are?

Reader's Comments:
Curious Frame exists for you the readers. It is fabulous how so many people are involved in the dialogue and with so many different opinions about what photography means to us. Let the dialogue continue!
All you need to do to join the dialogue is hit reply. You can even reply to earlier issues as well. The comment below is in response to the previous issue on Nostalgia & Photography
One reader commented:
I’m sure of one thing, my contemporary photography is nostalgic, it comes loaded with information acquired from the masters of the 40s/50s and that each one of us, I say photography-loving photographers, who like to appreciate what has already been done and now found only in books and museums. I can’t delete this information from my click, maybe this can only be found in photos taken by my 3 year old granddaughter with a cell phone! By the way, my two grandchildren, both about to turn 4, love to pick up their cell phones and take pictures, but as they grow, they acquire photographic information and their photography will no longer be intuitive and acquire photographic memory when taking new pictures. 
The fundamentals of photographic art are nostalgic! At the same time that you look to the future, you have to look to the past and that is how you write your work. 
All my best to you,
Thanks so much for your insights on nostalgia and photography. It’s good to hear what others have to say about photographic topics.
On Creativity
Stylish Fifth Avenue, New York City, 7 May 2021. This is a double exposure photo that was taken during a private photography workshop.
Stylish Fifth Avenue, New York City, 7 May 2021. This is a double exposure photo that was taken during a private photography workshop.
When it comes to creativity, I might have an advantage over many people. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not boasting. I never intended to be a creative person. It just kind of happened that way.
The truth is, I’ve always had great difficulty understanding and doing things in the prescribed manner. But it isn’t about me wanting to be a contrarian, rather I just didn’t understand what was being taught.
As early as age 10, it was already clear that I didn’t really fit in. As a result, two of my dominant traits began to be developed. Curiosity is of course one of them. Another is persistence. 
untitled 23 May 2021. This is a photomontage.
untitled 23 May 2021. This is a photomontage.
So when I state that I might have an advantage over many people concerning creativity it has more to do with my lived experience. An important element in creativity is that you are to some degree drawing outside of the lines.
 You may be using methods from the past as a starting point. It is very much like what sampling is to rap music. But even before sampling, I have arrived where I am through a series of failures. 
Yes, I have arrived at where I am through a series of accidents and mistakes. Some of them, like becoming a street photographer, were happy accidents. Others were kind of like trying on different styles of clothing to see which works for me. 
La vie bohémienne 5, New York City, January 2021. This is a series of unique prints and the series can be purchased as 4x6 reproductions.
La vie bohémienne 5, New York City, January 2021. This is a series of unique prints and the series can be purchased as 4x6 reproductions.
I have learned to work within many limitations in creating my work and arriving in this place that I am. So I’m no Mozart who apparently wrote his music as it was being divinely delivered to his mind. 
I have a great respect and appreciation for limitations as they have forced me to find new or different methods of doing things. That is where creativity begins. It is very much a form of improvisation. 
Experience is the best education. Period. So what I share with you is not theory. It is what I have experienced, it is what I practice. This may or may not be relevant to you and your style. But I do think that everyone wants to be able to express themselves in a manner that represents who they are. 
in radiant priority, 20 July 2021. Collage is yet another method of creativity. This piece is included in an ebook by the Fragmented Collective.
in radiant priority, 20 July 2021. Collage is yet another method of creativity. This piece is included in an ebook by the Fragmented Collective.
The thing about creativity is that it starts by examining the method that you usually do things and then changing one part of that. There are of course many creative methods that you can employ in photography.
Collage is one of those methods that utilizes creativity. It is like a form of going against the rules that you might normally follow. It can be like a form of meditation and it’s possible that you might want to have a glass of wine before approaching it to get outside of your normal routine.
Still from David Lynch's Eraserhead film, 1977.
Still from David Lynch's Eraserhead film, 1977.
I recently watched the Masterclass with David Lynch. There are few people in the world as wacky as Lynch. Yes, he’s way out there. While a filmmaker isn’t necessarily the place to find inspiration for photography, Lynch had some good ideas about creativity.
From the very beginning of the masterclass, Lynch stated that he doesn’t like rules. I recall many years ago he was quoted as saying that he thanked his parents for not making him draw in the lines in coloring books.
Yes, Lynch is famous and he has likely cultivated a style so that we will take notice. He would like for us to believe that he’s weird. But much of what he said rings true.
David Lynch
David Lynch
One of the most important parts of creativity is intuition. Sometimes you just get a feeling about something. Follow it. Creativity and ideas are like fishing for Lynch. So it starts with a feeling. Not a recipe or formula. And Lynch says that everyone has the ability to be creativity.
He doesn’t actually mention passion, but Lynch does say that if you would do it for free regardless of any monetary consideration, you’re on the path of the artist. Make time to daydream. Good ideas come from this activity.
Finally, Lynch says that you learn by doing and happy accidents. Yes, happy accidents are a big part of developing your own style. It has been a very important part of being creative whether it’s about street photography or things like abstract photography or even collage.
So I hope that you take the time to think about developing your style and methods of becoming creative. There are always new methods. If you have any that you would like to share, we would be happy to hear about them.
Sharing is Cool! If you’ve been forwarded this email or are reading online, consider joining the dialogue by subscribing. If you are looking for past issues you can find them all in the archive at the link below.
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Curious Frame Newsletter | Exploring Photographic Possibilities
Three Words
Here is the second installment of the 3 words series. It is an experiment and I thank the people who have contributed to it so far. There’s still time to submit to it as this is an ongoing project. 
It isn’t scientific or objective. But we already know that photography is always subjective. So this is about what you think and feel about photography in 3 words. 
Obviously, 3 words isn’t even sufficient to fully explain what photography means to us. Nevertheless, here is the second submission in the series and these 3 words could’ve easily been my own. 
just waiting, 30 August 2021. This is a collage on top of one of my photos.
just waiting, 30 August 2021. This is a collage on top of one of my photos.
Meditative Liberating Inspirational
These 3 words perfectly describe my experience of street photography. But they weren’t my words :-) When I’m out shooting it’s often like a sort of Zen state for me. Standing in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city streets.
I don’t even know anymore how it happens. My attention is on the activity of the streets. My vision scanning the rhythm of the city. It is both liberating and inspiring at the same time.
There is so much creative energy buzzing around and if you slow down enough you’ll be able to ride it like a surfer on a wave. Well, I’m not a surfer. But I imagine it to be similar. There’s so much energy here just waiting for you to catch. With that is the liberating and inspiring energy that street photography can provide you with.
You can comment on the 3 words series or you can also submit your own 3 words. It’s easy, just hit reply.
Further Viewing:
Duane Michals on Creative Photography
You can also find me at:
Artist, Photographer & Writer - Leanne Staples
Shop for Art, Zines & Publications - Leanne Staples
Walking Photo Tours & Street Photography Workshops in New York City
Did you enjoy this issue?
Leanne Staples

In a world that is overpopulated with images, Curious Frame is where I share my thoughts on photography. It is always about ‘seeing with new eyes’.

I’m Leanne Staples, a photographer, artist, and writer living in New York City. Street photography and lens-based art are my passions, and Curious Frame is where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on these passions.

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