Photo Creativity 102 – Complete something the first day – even on a holiday

Black Walnut tree, Eugene Oregon, October 2021 copyright Douglas Stockdale

This is a take-off on my 10-minute rule for artistic (photographic) creativity, that is meant to help me become engaged with a new location, typically when on a holiday. This is also something I attempted to incorporate into my business travels when possible, usually resulting in a night photograph of some sort. There are some family expectations that when you take some time off during a holiday, that you/everyone will take time totally away from everything, even from your creativity. Which for me can be hard to do. Thus a compromise, I will not be totally obsessed with creative endeavors if you give me a little time once in a while to ‘experiment/play’. Of course the are the holidays that are meant to specifically to create new artwork, then I defer to the 10-minute rule!

To become re-engaged at a new location, usually part-n-parcel for a travel holiday (need some get-away time for fun and games, eh?), I try to create something the first day. For me, one of the many advantages of the mobile phone that I have the flexibility to quickly ‘experiment/play’ and create something that might be visually interesting. As per the idea behind the 10-minute rule, this is about just doing something. To make the switch from the analytical left brain (very, very essential if driving the American freeways for two straight days, which can get intense), to the creative right brain thinking. Not necessarily to make a lasting master-piece artwork, but similar to the 10-minute rule, to re-engage with the surroundings and open myself to more opportunities.

Case in point, we recently did a long drive from Southern California to southern Oregon to see my son and family who has a new-to-him home they just acquired in the outskirts of Eugene (built sometime in the 1960’s). The only thing really growing in their back-yard is a mature black walnut tree that is up against a old wooden fence, which had some immediate possibilities for me as an urban landscape photograph. I immediately pre-visualized this image in black and white with a slight warm (sepia) toning. As stated above, this was something I could create in-camera (Samsung S21 mobile phone-camera) using various apps and post on social media as a completed artwork by the end of the first day. I opted to add a bit of vignette as well to darken the edges and pull the eye into the center-most area of the tree leaves. Interestingly, I did not photograph this composition with the DSLR, as I think I understood that this was an exercise that is more about turning the right-brain on.

I also cropped it to square for IG (@douglasstockdale). After returning to the studio and downloading this for Photoshop, I found that I only needed to add a curves adjustment layer to slightly tweak the shadows and highlights and make the image a little bit cooler in tonality.

Mission accomplished! I found that I was seeing the surrounding urban and natural landscape of this area with more intensity. And the really big bonus is that I also enjoy this photograph in its final form. Cool!




Book workshops:

I will be leading a Creative Photo Book workshop with the Southeast Center of Photography (SEC4P), a virtual event on Zoom; November 6 & 7th and 13 & 14th, 2021, 10 AM – 1 PM, EDT (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). Registration is now open, and there is a SEC4P membership discount. It is SOLD OUT & wait-list has been started.

Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo with New dates: March 5 – 6, 12 – 13, 2022 More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo.


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