Inside this issue
On Limitations and Creativity
Freedom comes at a cost..
Ex video game maker, now a company advisor in the digital & creative sector and landscape photographer.
This morning I read a comment on a Facebook post saying simply that the weather recently had sapped any creativity and discouraged photography trips. I paraphrase, obviously, but it’s a sentiment that is seen expressed often. I’ve said it myself too, many times. Or should that be too many times! Only on Sunday morning I looked out early, saw the overcast sky and decided against going out.
So, for those that don’t know me, or my background, I’ve been involved in the development of video games for approaching 30 years.
The limitations we had as game developers encouraged our creative solutions. Now I wasn’t particularly part of the design team but my creativity would come in solving fairly complex (at the time) technical problems with the fewest clock cycles of processing time and with the fewest bytes of memory taken up to do so. It was fun, and when it worked it was very satisfying.
Video games have gone through many hardware cycles since, with each presenting a new set of limitations to work within; be that resolution, RAM size, disc loading speed, processor speeds and so on. Some iterations seemed to bring massive leaps forward but the ‘headroom’ over previous constraints were always short lived. We were always quickly up to the limits and working out ways to ‘seemingly’ exceed them. The same is true on a design perspective. How many people played Snake for example on the Nokia phones? Two colours, a tiny screen and two key presses for input, clockwise or anti clockwise. Limitations overcome by creativity, millions of hours played.
To be honest, coming up with examples of restrictions inspiring creativity is like shooting fish in a barrel, so insert your own examples here!
So onto photography then - what are our limitations on producing creative work? The weather? Resolution? Sensor size? Time? The fact is that if we had the perfect weather, location and an unlimited resolution sensor size (or whatever is your perceived impediment) then there would be zero creativity. There is no problem to solve and so our creative juices don’t work.
If a games development studio has unlimited resolution, processing power, time and human resources I can almost guarantee that they will never produce a finished game.
Put simply, creativity is a way for us to overcome limitations. If we don’t have boundaries then there are no problems to solve and therefore nothing to be creative about. I think it’s true to say that there are fewer constraints for today’s photographer than in times past. Access to expertise, travel and equipment give us more opportunity than our landscape photographer predecessors. Perhaps it is an invite to set our own boundaries for photography or at least not let external factors influence us so much.
P.S. The photographs in this post are all taken from under a brolly in the pouring rain.