Intentionality: How Constraints Enable Creativity

23 01 17 Leica Camera AG LEICA M11 L1001053 1

My contraints: The Leica M11 with 50mm APO Summicron ASPH lens. Capture images during breaks outside with the puppy. Images quickly processed in Capture One using the Mastin Tri-X style.

Ever since I took on Sniff and Shoot as a project, I’ve been regularly producing some pretty nice images. It got me thinking about how often we hear that constraints help produce work rather than hinder it. Maybe it is the paradox of choice where when you can do anything you end up doing nothing. Contraints remove choice and guide action.

But I think it’s something deeper than that. It’s that when faced with limitations, we have to become more intentional about our actions. There are hard limits that I have to overcome that force action to act in spite of the constraints. So I pick up the camera as I walk out the door and look around to find ways to use what I hold in my hands and the visual world in front of me. It’s not having a goal, it’s that the limitations provide traction, something to react to with my action.

Whether it’s imposing constraints simply by limiting equipment and technique or it’s setting up a project within which to work, the path forward at the moment and action is engaged.

While “mindfulness” gets a lot of attention, it is simply the passive act of being aware in the present. “Intentionality” builds on mindfulness in providing immediate purpose for action.

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