Tag Archives: artistic style

Style as a Barrier to Creating: Give Yourself Permission, Don’t Seek It

A personal short story shared by Shanta Lee.  Shanta is a mutli-facted professional, photographer, writer, and one of the founders of WildlyCreative.World.

A few months ago, I was talking to another photographer about my style for photography. During the conversation I commented “it is not like I am waiting in a corner to see what my style is but I would like to bump into it. I am not quite sure what it is.” He instantly replied, “Don’t think about it just shoot” he was right and hearing that advice was freeing.

Tucked in between the morsels of “just try anything just because” and the many times that I just get inspired to create without boxing myself is doubt. We are all familiar with this felling. My occasional doubt also comes equipped with luggage and carry-on bags in the form of questions I ask myself about my photographs, written work, or other creative endeavors…

Is it edgy, fresh or thought provoking?
Is it bold?
Is it a dreamscape?
Is it realistic?
Is it safe a.k.a. boring?
Is it the same ol’ same ol’?
Does it push boundaries or break what people see all the time?
Has this been done before (and if it has, why the hell am I doing it)?
thAnd the list goes on of various questions I’ve asked myself about my writing, my photography, and other art forms I explored.  In many ways, I was/am seeking permission from the supposed guidelines of how things should be according to some random metric. There are a lot of articles and books about all sorts of things related to style as it relates to the work or life of an artist.  But what if all of that is a box or further restriction? What if the seeking of style is a ceiling or detriment?

Sure, we all need a way to describe what it is we do. Within the elevator speech, or any description, one needs to be able to have some words and say what it is that people can expect to see. On the other hand, taking a different route in which you may not be certain of style per se but instead you have passion and vision gives you freedom.

I still occasionally wrestle with the doubt but most of the time I don’t care about any type of category or style to adhere to. As doubt and those questions creep in during various moments of holding my camera or penning a word, I think about that advice I received a few months ago “don’t think about it, just shoot” and it feels like internal barriers have been removed.

Perhaps you are on your own creative journey, don’t think about what it is or is not supposed to be or what category it may or may not fit into, don’t ask for permission by seeking a structure for it. Instead, give your permission to do it in your way. The rest will figure itself out.