The Idea of Craft vs Creativity in Photography

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We, as photographers, are well known amongst society to be likened to words like creativity, camera, lens, wedding, portrait, Instagram, and lots more. But it has also become known that we, as photographers, are creatives. And with that comes an even bigger issue.

Have you ever looked to a scene, saw a moment that you absolutely loved and wanted to capture it right then and there in just the way that you saw it? We all have; but chances are that instead of you actually seeing it in that way, your mind’s eye romanticized it. Because of this, you need to find a way to create the scene.

Again, we’re going to repeat: you need to find a way to create the scene.

This brings us to a giant inner conflict that every photographer faces as they progress and grow as artists–only to find that they need to maintain a balance. The idea of craft vs creativity.

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So what do we mean by this?

Creativity is the idea that you have in your head and a knowledge of how it looks, functions, and is supposed to be perceived in the final image that you want to create.

Craft, on the other hand, is the ability to actually bring this image and idea into manifest.

What’s so hard about putting the camera up to your eye, snapping the photo, and looking at the image in awe? The fact that you’re literally just doing this.

All that you’re probably doing is trying to capture a snapshot–and not a photograph. Think about this for a second: you felt that what you saw was a great scene. But what about it made it so great? How are you going to make that scene that you just shot elicit the same emotions that you felt in that exact moment to make you snap the photo? Will the person that views this image feel the exact same way as you did or will they simply skip over the image in your portfolio and not bother?

That is where creativity and craft need to be balanced. Every photographer is more in touch with one side than the other. And with that, you have to figure out whether you’re more of a concept creator or a manifester.

If you have an idea, how are you going to execute it? Will you snap a photo and then do lots of photoshop work? Or will you work with props, lighting, set design and story boarding to bring the scene to life?

So photographers: are you a creator, an idea maker or do you have a tight grasp on both?