Keep Innovating, Or Die

Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject
Hanoi, 2016 #cindyproject

I read something interesting recently — the idea that for an organism to prevent dying— it must constantly add complexity and energy to itself.

I think we can also apply the same idea and philosophy to our creativity. If we stop innovating, coming up with new ideas, or evolving— we are slowly dying.

How to keep innovating

How do we continue to innovate in our photography and life?

First of all, my suggestion is to kill your past self. Don’t let your past hold you back. Often times we let this fear of contradicting our past selves prevent us from pushing forward— trying out new ideas and taking more risks.

Secondly, innovation happens from noticing things. For example, I think the most innovative photographers are the ones who are the best “noticers.” They notice what is weird, unusual, or interesting about the world. They can make novel connections between different subjects in a frame. They are able to notice contradictions in society, and put forth projects which reveal these absurdities.

Thirdly, innovation is about taking risk, and having the courage to fail. Whenever we try anything new, it hasn’t been done before. Therefore the chance of failure is high. Yet the more we fail, the more likely we are to succeed. If we are risk-averse, we will never do anything truly innovative with our art, photography, or life.

How to die

How do we die creatively?

We die when we close our minds to the thoughts, opinions, and ideas of others.

We die when we think we know it all.

We die when we are content with the status-quo.

We die when we become jaded, and think that the world cannot change.

We die when we try to be consistent for consistency sake.

Try something new

Break free. Have courage. Take risks.

Try out something totally new in your photography, and don’t tell anybody else. Do it for yourself. Don’t ask others for their opinion on your new idea— because nobody can understand a new idea (except yourself).

Give your new idea the time to grow, before it dies from the criticism of others.

Try a new photographic style, pursue a new photographic project, and photograph your images with radically new compositions.

Follow your gut, your intuition, and your heart — and never stop innovating for yourself and for others.

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