“There’s no point going to the gym once a month. The same is true with creative photography”

Art of Seeing by Benedict Brain
This image is an example of Ben’s regular creative exercising – the equivalent of daily press-ups. It’s a 3D anaglyph, so it will appear in 3D if you wear a pair of red/cyan glasses. Fujifilm GFX 50R with Fujifilm 110mm f/2 lens. 1/25 sec at f/2, ISO 100 (Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain with camera

(Image credit: Marcus Hawkins)

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.

Some time ago I ran an online workshop for the The Photography Show’s Spring Shoots virtual event, called ‘Finding Your Creative Mojo’. During my preparation, however, I soon released that it was not as easy a subject to take on as I’d first thought. It turns out that creativity is one of those things that’s really difficult to quantify.

Camera techniques are relatively straightforward to demonstrate in a workshop; in contrast, creativity proved more tricky. I believe that creativity can be learned and nurtured – but how to go about nurturing it is a challenge. 

Ultimately, the advice I gave seemed quite humdrum. I didn’t reveal some exotic tonic to the secret of creativity: instead, I talked about making boundaries, becoming accountable, enforcing deadlines, embracing the banal and so on. But most of all, I talked about exercise. You need to exercise your creativity to become more creative, in much the same way that you exercise if you want to keep physically fit. There’s no point going to the gym once a month: you need to exercise several times a week. The same is true with creative photography. 

If you just engage with photography at epic, honey-spot locations at the magic hour in perfect conditions, you will not be making images all that often. However, if you embrace the banal, take photographs everywhere and anywhere, and respond to your surroundings, you will refine your vision and flex your creative muscles.

I find a quick 10-minute session timed with an alarm has proved a great way to ‘exercise’ on a daily basis. Tulips, an enduringly fascinating subject to me, have become part of the exercise. I try to photograph them for 10 minutes with sheer abandon, just to see what happens. Most of the time, the answer is not much – and that’s OK, it’s part of the process. However, occasionally you get an image you like.  

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.