The Creative Moment By Dick Duerksen

Click to Enlarge
My office walls are heavy with canvas prints of photographs I have taken around the world: Zimbabwe lions, Alaskan grizzlies, Botswana giraffes, California deer, and a blue-footed booby from the Galapagos.

Each of the photos represents creativity. I saw the moment, felt its value, formed it into an emotion-laden picture, clicked the shutter release, and created an image. Then I loaded it into my computer, tweaked it in my lightroom, and sent it to Raleigh, North Carolina to be printed, stretched, and added to my office gallery.

Stand beside my desk and you’ll nearly drown in creativity.

But is it really mine? Yes. The aperture and f-stops and composition and saturation are mine.

But the grizzly is God’s. So is the booby.

The “creative moment” is also mine. Like with my favorite grizzly photo. Terry and I were shivering together watching a grizzly bear pray for fish on the other side of Alaska’s Silver Salmon Creek. The light was golden long, and we had our lenses focused on her eyes. We drank deep breaths of the sweet evening breeze and prayed for a salmon to rise just a bit upstream. Hoping for a miracle that would cause her to stand and look North. Maybe even with water drops dripping from her 5-inch claws. Hoping for a very specific creative moment, one we had planned together while our frost-bit fingers rested on our cameras.

Then a fish slapped the water on its journey home.

Click to Enlarge
She stretched high, this seven-foot monarch - ears and eyes focused on the splash - salivating for a crunchy dinner if it swam anywhere near her throne. And did I mention the water drops cascading from her claws? The “creative moment” is mine, one I can share. Terry and I shared it as together we planned the shot and hoped for the fish. Now I am sharing it with you, describing it with words that draw pictures in your mind and bring goose-bumps to your skin. But, I can possibly share it even more effectively if you see her standing on my wall, staring off toward dinner.

The “creative moment” is mine, but so is the way I choose to share it. Thoughts, sounds, fragrances, colors, textures, and emotions all come together as words flow onto an empty page.

“Two roads diverged in an empty wood, and I took the one less traveled.”
“Jesus wept.”
“Dad just called. Mom didn’t wake up today.”
“I want to be baptized.”

The creative writer’s challenge is to cause you to see and feel – with as few words as possible.

For a photographer, the challenge is harder and more focused. No opportunity for commas and exclamation marks. The photo itself must carry the emotions and publish the smells.

Click to Enlarge
Like this one of Cindy.

What do you feel when you see her?
Why do you feel it?
What credit can I, the pusher of the shutter release button, take for what you are feeling?

I chose the moment. Maybe better put, I waited around, sat on the ground with a new friend, and captured a moment of her innocent joy. What amazes me is that this moment brings with it such emotional power. Yes, there is joy. But there is also a hopelessness hanging from her tattered dress, a bleak sickness lurking in her dirt playground, and a suspected future that calls forth the best of parental protectiveness.

How can that be? Isn’t this just a photo of a girl in Mozambique?

No. It is much more. It is a creative collection of pixels that challenge hearts to change the world.

Once I published a photo of an orchid that looks like a handlebar mustache. It made people laugh.

In a doctors’ lounge I hung a photo of a Rocky Mountain trail leading off up and away toward an imagined summit. The physicians choose their lunch, sit at the table, and dream of taking a vacation on that path. The dreaming reduces blood pressure.

Click to Enlarge
On a rainy New Zealand afternoon Grandma and I took our grandkids for a walk – fully outfitted with rubber boots, umbrellas, and rain jackets. It was a perfect day for jumping in puddles! When we had emptied most of the road-lakes, Gwennie stood still, wishing for more puddles. It was a “creative moment,” one that always brings sighs, and exclamations of happiness when we share it.

I love being creative. But, even more, I love your response to my creativity. If my “creative moment” touches your heart, I am fulfilled. If my “creative moment” makes you want to go to Africa and save all the orphan children, then I am happy. If my “creative moment” gives you peace or calm or hope, then I am successful.

For us creative types, that’s a very good thing. 

Visit Dick Duerksen online

Dick Duerksen writes from northern California. All rights reserved © 2012 VisitInSpire.org. Click here for content usage information.