By Gajan Tharmabalan
The most challenging part of being in a creative line of work is, arguably, fostering more creativity to produce new material. Every project has countless hours of personal investment along with the daunting task of, in my opinion, being better than all the projects before it. Combined. With such a demanding objective set forth, how is it possible to stay motivated? To not be intimidated by the challenge at hand? In this entry, I'll look explain why traveling to a foreign destination and NOT attempting to capture everything around you is the best exercise to promote creativity.
A week ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited on a trip to New York City. With only a few weeks notice, it would be the first time I left home with such little preparation. The decision to go was easy. Previous Air Miles covered the travel expenses. The trip was only four days, so I wouldn't be excusing myself from too much of my weekly routine. And I was going with a great group of friends. Having never been to New York as an adult, this would prove to be a great opportunity to experience some American culture in the largest melting pot in the world.
WIthin the realm of photographers, from bathroom selfies to professionals, there are those that travel and attempt to capture everything they can and others that go to locations with specific shot in mind. Personally, while I may have done the aforementioned two, I now mostly travel for the culture. My idea of a vacation involves experiencing the true nature of my destination. Creatively, I am not a travel photographer. The niche I devote myself to involves most of my time planning and creating controlled environments to produce impactful imagery. So when I travel to someplace new or foreign, I don't aim to capture every waking moment. While I always keep my camera on hand, it is a tool used to capture moments of inspiration. Pictures that will help further craft when I return home.
The best way I can elaborate on the goals I focus on when traveling is akin to the idea of live high, train low. Many athletes will live at a high altitude, and travel to low altitude to train. In this scenario, the body is forced to live in a state of low oxygen (stress), and acclimate itself to the surroundings. This stress pushes the body to improve during periods of rest. When the athlete moves to a lower altitude to train, they can essentially push their bodies further. Long story short, this method is proven to deliver greater cardiovascular improvements.
Back To My Original Point
When I travel, I want to learn and absorb the surroundings as intimately as possible. I want to visit the obscure areas, and enjoy what the locals enjoy. I don't wish to be inundated with the task of capturing every waking moment of my travel, let alone be stuck in a tourist trap. Again, the idea of live high, train low. My goal is to live in the moment and be inspired by my trip, so that when I return, I can truly flex my creative muscle and produce great, new work.
New York City was amazing. I made sure to check out as much of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as I could with the allotted time. Sorry Staten Island. The people, contrary to popular belief, are incredibly friendly. The food was as diverse as it was delicious. And the sheer magnitude of place was humbling. It really brings me back to Earth.
What The F*CK Have I Done Today?
With so much talent in one state, what sets me apart? How do I compete with such established individuals? And my favorite, what the f*ck have I done today? These are some of the questions I asked myself during my trip. Not to bring myself down, but to challenge myself to rise.
However you fellow creatives choose to maximize your excursion to a new land, I hope you took something out of this. Try to really experience the places you visit through more of your senses, as opposed to the two white grapes surrounding your nose.