Oct 13, 2016

Building Creative Muscles

I love photography because…

…it provides exercise for my creative muscles.

Six years ago my brain was exploding. I had my one and only college photography class under my belt. I was reveling in my first year with a DSLR camera, a gift from my in-laws that I’ll never forget! I took pictures of everything! My cousins, my siblings, my school, the landscape, my friends, nature, etc. You name it, I shot it…with my Nikon.

I began to see beauty in everything around me. I wanted my camera strap around my neck all day every day because when I didn’t have it, I missed things. My brain was always tuned into photography and I saw gorgeous photos waiting to be taken all over the place.

One day after a heavy rain at the Fort Bowie National Historic Site where Cameron and I lived and worked for two summers, I knew there were bits of nature just waiting for me to discover and capture. These shots are still some of my favorite nature shots I’ve captured.

In the book “Big Magic,” author Elizabeth Gilbert talks about asking students if they love writing and every hand would go up. However, when the same students were asked if writing loved them, their hands went down. Looking back at this time in my life, I would have whole-heartedly put my hand up for both questions.

But sometime in the last two years I let that fascination with the world slip. I don’t just take my camera out to capture rain drops on cactus. I don’t work to find flowing angles for ruins. I don’t lay on my stomach to capture new calves under a mesquite tree. I even rarely pulled out the big camera for my own family, only using my camera phone for quick snaps that often never make it off the phone. I only pulled out the big camera and the good lenses for clients. And slowly, even though I still loved photography, I forgot that it could love me back.

Perhaps this was to protect equipment. Perhaps it was laziness. Perhaps it was a lack of time. Perhaps it was going through survival mode in our tiny house. Perhaps it was any number of things. The reason why I quit capturing the world doesn’t matter. What matters now is that I open my eyes and start looking again!

Somewhere along the way I got the idea that once I knew my photography niche that I wanted to pursue and serve, that I should throw every ounce of my photography interest into that niche and let side-interests fade into the background. I’m realizing that wasn’t a true idea, at least not for me. Imagine if I only ever exercised my right arm again. It’d have a killer right arm, but it would only be able to draw strength from itself. Now lets say I focused a lot of my energy on my right arm, but still worked to keep the rest of my body in good working order. Suddenly my arm could draw strength from my chest muscles, and from all parts of my body. It would do the main work, but it would be supported.

Okay, I don’t actually know anything about fitness or anatomy…but that analogy sounds good to me so I’m rolling with it. 😉

As much as I’d love it to be, creativity is not a faucet with an easy on/off valve. It takes exercising and coaxing creativity to keep it flowing. I’m realizing that by watching the world for moments to photograph and by jumping on those moments, my creative “muscles” will stay exercised and ready for use and will spill over into all I do.

So I’m now starting a new exercise and fitness routine…for my creativity! I don’t plan on sharing every single “exercise” shot I take or project I do, but I’m excited to get to share snippets and highlights of the things I find out in the world as I work to keep my creative muscles healthy and strong.

When was the last time you picked up a camera just for you? Or baked just for you? Or sewed just for you? Or sang just for you? Or [insert your creative outlet here] just for you? Here’s your challenge. In the next 48 hours, pick it up and be creative just for you. Just for the sake of creating!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Holly Frazier

    October 13th, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I love this! I think it's easy to lose focus and drive to do things just for self sometimes – I'm there with you. What a great reminder to sometimes just go and pick up that camera for the sake of it!

  2. Ashley Ziegler

    October 13th, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    This is a beautiful post!! I totally regret not taking my camera to places that I know I will wished I would have. If it wasn't so heavy and I had a smaller case to carry it in, I would!!!

  3. Amber Palmer

    October 13th, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    So true!

  4. Jill

    October 14th, 2016 at 3:52 am

    These shots are gorgeous, and I love this idea!