The Role of Creative Expression

      Many people hold the belief that creativity is a God-given gift, and while I do agree, I also think that everyone has some sort of creative lens in their mind that just needs to be found and focused to suit themselves. You may not have found it yet, but everyone is capable of creativity in one way or another. From the casual knitting of socks to the production of music or even the painting of masterpieces, different outlets and styles emerge which help to distinguish one artist from another. No matter how insignificant your contribution may seem, I urge you to find a creative outlet that fits your personality and run with it. It will not only help to bolster your creative spirit but will help you to grow and learn about yourself and the world along the way.

      For me, this creative outlet comes in the form of photography. Growing up I always enjoyed art and considered myself a creative person, but I often found myself wishing I was more talented to put my creativity to use. For example, I could always think of something cool to draw, but I struggled with the skill it takes to put it down on paper. This is why I have found photography and graphic design to suit my specific skill set and perspective so well; they give me the tools to capture or create what I see in my mind. However, I did not explore the medium of photography until I was in high school. With access to a camera and direction from my wonderful film and digital photography instructors, I found I could finally express the things I could not before. As I began to take more and more pictures (of things other than my fluffy cats), I found  that photography brings with it an entirely new perspective to your experience of everyday life. I’ve found  that great photography seeks to naturally capture the fine details of everyday life, so I constantly search for objects, people or moments that may make a great photograph. In a sense, your view of the world begins to be seen through a lens.

      As a kid, and still to this day, I have found creative expression through skateboarding and snowboarding.  There’s a sense of freedom when you are on a board that cannot be rivaled, a better escape than any drug may provide. It acts as an outlet of expression, with different forms and styles. These little nuances of style and creativity are what define a skateboarder or snowboarder and set them apart, much like any other art form. Skateboarding and snowboarding taught me to get back up and try again when the going gets tough and, like photography, has helped me out of hard places. The similarities between these sports and photography do not end here. When skateboarding, you begin to look at the environment and urban landscape in a completely different way. You look for lines or spots to perform tricks, even when you are not on the board. This change of perspective toward the city streets parallels my focused view of the world as a photographer. I believe that by growing up always scanning for sweet skate spots or awesome lines to snowboard in the winter, I have also developed and strengthened my creative vision in photography. It has given me the motivation to persist when the going gets tough and has allowed me a healthy outlet to express myself, meet others with similar interests and remain confident both on and off the board.

      Much like painting a picture, accurately capturing a moment in the exact style you desire can be a difficult task. Many factors play a significant role in making an image impactful, such as the lighting, perspective, angle and subject. It takes training and dedication to recognize when all of these characteristics align, but once achieved, your photography will drastically improve. These moments are fleeting, and it is hard to always be prepared. The invention of mobile phone cameras of decent quality has allowed me to capture some of my favorite images in situations in which a DSLR is a burden. For example, during my time living and going to school in the city, I took an image of a young boy playing in the water from an open fire hydrant along a dilapidated side street in Kensington. I recognized the moment and knew all of the ingredients were there. The sun silhouetting the boy and illuminating the water, his sense of freedom and hope in an area infested with drugs and violence: it all seemed to contribute to a wonderful image. So I asked the boy to throw his ball into the air, and I snapped a picture on my phone. To this day, it is one of my favorite images I have taken, not for its quality (or lack thereof) but for its meaning. It shows inspiration and courage in an otherwise hopeless environment. The image gave me the inspiration to clean up my act during a time when I felt just as hopeless as the surrounding area in which I found myself. I thought, if a little boy can be happy and hopeful in the worst of circumstances, I, too, can stay positive and change my ways. It took time and effort on my part, as I’m sure it will for the little boy to escape his surroundings, but it turns out I was right.

      Without creative outlets such as photography and skateboarding, I would not be where I am today, and I am thankful for the freedom and unique perspectives these hobbies have provided. I urge everyone to seek a creative outlet to express your thoughts and feelings in an abstract way. Even if you claim you don’t have an artistic bone in your body and neither photography or sports is your cup of tea, there are countless other ways to express yourself. You are bound to find something that fits your personality and vision. Embrace any and all creative spirits you find, and you will begin to appreciate the finer moments in life and shrug off the difficult times. Art allows you to explore yourself and the surrounding world, and in turn to interpret and display your findings in a comprehensive manner for others to see. Pick up a camera, paint brush or your dance shoes, and express yourself.

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