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Bridging the Creative Gap

Bridging The Creative Gap

A few months ago I wrote a contributing article for the Clickin Moms Blog. I thought I would re-post it here:

 

About six months after I made Click Pro, I had an idea for a photo. It was inspired by an area under our house that is covered by our back porch. The porch covering and storage area underneath creates a similar situation to shooting in a garage – I wanted to maximize the inverse square law shooting my son playing with bubbles. But when I set up the shot, I made a mistake and set him too deep in the shadows. He wasn’t that into it and so I only had a few minutes to shoot. By the time I realized my mistake, he was over the scene and I had to give up. It was one of those times I was extremely frustrated by my mistake, chastising myself for not setting it up correctly the first time. A few days later I tried a simpler shot again, in that same area, just to prove to myself that I could work with that light.

Bridging The Creative Gap

 

It was right around this time that I became a podcast junky. I was listening to the Chase Jarvis podcast when he started talking about this thing called the Creative Gap and defined it as this: “The term ‘creative gap’ is a way of describing the difference between what we as artists can visualize ourselves creating and what we actually create. Sometimes we nail it and the gap is nil. Other times, as you might imagine, there’s a huge disparity and the gap is wide.”

For some reason hearing a definition for what I was going through made me feel better. As I continued on my photography journey and encountered the inevitable stumbles, I now had a mantra in my head to get me through – “no big deal that’s just the creative gap – I need to work harder”.  It’s almost as if my mistakes weren’t mine anymore, they were the creative gaps. Calling my mistakes the creative gap instead of my mistakes took the pressure off me and made me want to work to bridge the gap instead of berating myself.

No matter where we are in our journey; beginner, emerging expert, or pro – we are all striving to close the creative gap in one way or another. The fact that you are able to identify a creative gap existence in your photography journey means that you are pushing yourself and constantly learning. Instead of being frustrated by it, we should celebrate it.

As I listened to the podcast that day, I immediately started reminiscing about specific photographs that required multiple attempts to successfully achieve what I had aimed to create.

I had the idea for this photo when my kids were playing with the hose one afternoon and I caught one of their reflections in the window. The next night I recreated the scene and started snapping. I was unhappy with the results and ended up bribing my kids the next two evenings so that I could take it again. I played with different lenses, different apertures, different focal points, and different times in the evening. The hardest part about this photograph was that I needed the light to be bright enough to catch her reflection, but not so bright that the sky above was blown out. Needless to say, by the time I got what I wanted, my kids were a little burnt out on this!

Bridging The Creative Gap

The following photo was achieved on my second try. The light in this one is coming from a west facing window. The first time I attempted it was early afternoon and the sun was a little too bright coming through, making it difficult to achieve good skin tones in post processing. The next day I tried again around mid-morning when the light coming through the window was more subtle and I got exactly what I wanted:

Bridging The Creative Gap

The photo below took two nights to achieve and about 20 times of my little one walking up those stairs! I used a plug-in lamp with a shade that is circular and open at the top as my light source. The first time I took the photo I realized that the bulb was not giving off enough light to create a contrast between the shadow and the wall. The next day I went to Home Depot to purchase a stronger bulb. Then, we tried again. I leaned the lamp against the railing of the stairs to the left and stood on our landing to take this photo. I played with my positioning, the lamp positioning, and even changed which hand my son was holding his elephant in. In post processing I ended up flipping the photo to make the composition stronger.

Bridging The Creative Gap

 

 

When I analyze the photos that took several attempts to achieve my vision (aka creative gap photos), there are two specific elements that make or break the photos; the light and a genuine expression with the subject. Often times the genuine expression is nailed on the first try, but the light is not. When I go back with a better understanding of the light, the genuine expression is harder to achieve.

But, nailing what I deem “the creative gap photos” is not the most important thing. In fact, most of my creative gap photos are not my favorites. I can almost see how hard I was working to make those happen. The most important factor is the fact that I was trying. When I am bridging a creative gap photo, I am in the zone; always looking and analyzing light. I am doing the work and continuously learning.

 The best thing that happened while I was working hard to close the creative gap on certain photos was the other photos that felt effortlessly captured around this time. By working on the fundamentals of photography on a daily basis, I was poised and ready to capture a photo when all the elements came together.

Some of my favorite photos were achieved on the first try often without my kids knowing. The one thing all of these have in common is the fact that amidst these photos I was working hard to bridge the creative gap on another photo.

Bridging The Creative Gap

Bridging The Creative Gap

Bridging The Creative Gap

Bridging The Creative Gap

 

Bridging The Creative Gap

Bridging The Creative Gap

 

 

So what can you do to bridge your creative gap?  Get out of your head and GET. TO. WORK.  Below are a few ideas to get you in the zone of bridging your creative gap.

 

  1. Shoot continuously. Ideally this would be every day or every week. Yes, I am talking about a 365 or 52 project. This is a large undertaking but is so worth it! The difference you’ll see in your work is astounding. It is difficult at first, but as you continue on the journey you’ll notice success happening more often and as they say, success is addicting. Here are a few tips for taking on this project.
    • Give yourself plenty of grace. By this I mean try your best, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not going to achieve portfolio worthy photos every day and that is okay! I aim for one portfolio worthy shot a week and then the rest are solely for documenting purposes or practicing different techniques.
    • Let light guide every photo. A great photo is no longer great if the light is not right. So before you press the shutter button, ask yourself these questions: where is the light coming from, what type of light is it, and can I position myself better to make the most of the light? Light is everything in photography.
    • Edit regularly and store your photos somewhere that you will be able to see your progress. Don’t let your photos sit on your camera or on your computer. Edit them daily or at the very least weekly so that the editing process doesn’t become a burden. Then store the photos somewhere like flickr or use the app Project 365. Seeing those beauties will keep you motivated.
    • Most of us in the Clickin Moms community love photographing our kids. But with a 365 project I encourage you to take a break from your darlings every once in a while. Use still objects to practice different techniques like free lensing or double exposure.
    • Finally, find your tribe. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, joining a 365 group will increase your chances of success. Plus it is motivating and very effective to have others holding you accountable. The easiest way to do this is to search the Clickin Moms Forum for groups that are starting or create a post to start your own group.
  2. Take a class. I would not be where I am today without Clickin Moms. The classes they have available are invaluable. Whether you take a workshop as a full participant, a study along, or do a break out, you will walk away a stronger photographer. I try to watch one video a week from my Clickin Moms education archive. It’s amazing the tips and tricks I pull out each and every time.
  3. Look for inspiration. One of my favorite things to do is go through feed stopper photographs I have saved on Instagram. I love analyzing them – what type of light did the photographer use? What small detail makes this photograph special? What is the emotion conveyed in the photograph? I keep a running list of photos I want to emulate and incorporate them within my 365 project.
  4. Read a book. We are blessed to live in a world filled with creative geniuses. It is inspiring to read their words, getting a glimpse into their minds. The Creative Habit by Twayla Thorp is a must read for any artist. Her documentation of pushing through creative struggles and how they make you a better artist is incredibly motivating. Or flip through Capturing the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson to learn about photography fundamentals while looking at beautiful, inspiring photos. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is next on my list.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to take on the creative gap. It only matters that you are striving to bridge it.  Celebrate your challenges in photography – it means you are pushing yourself and your limits and are in the process of becoming a better photographer. Embrace the creative gap one photo at a time!

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Lindsay is an award winning, published, natural light photographer with over 13 years of experience. Based in Austin, TX, she specializes in photographing brands, families, maternity, and newborns. Lindsay serves the greater Austin area, including: Bee Cave, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lakeway, Leander, and Pflugerville.

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We recently moved to Austin and we’re looking for a professional maternity photographer to capture this beautiful memory for us. We are so glad to have found Lindsay as she not only recommended a perfect place according to our expectations but also made us so comfortable.Me and my spouse both loved her work!
Karima H.
Karima H.
Lindsay is an outstanding photographer! It is truly an experience working with such a professional and gifted photographer who is so friendly and easy to work with! I highly recommend Lindsay. My headshots for the next phase in my career have come out better than what I would have imagined and so grateful to Lindsay for that! Can't wait to work with Lindsay for our family photos next!
Bhavana S.
Bhavana S.
Lindsay is excellent at what she does. Our family had a wonderful experience with her and the photographs are mind blowing. This is our first maternity photoshoot ever and we are happy to say we will go back to Lindsay for our next event. Lindsay is very responsive, accommodative, relaxed and fun photographer. I have a 4 year old who hates to pose for photographs. Guess what, Lindsay got around that easily and got him engaged for an hour. Lastly, my goal was to make my wife Happy and worth the effort. I am happy to say Lindsay knocked it out of the park. Highly recommend her.
Sri Krishna V.
Sri Krishna V.
Lindsay is an absolute dream to work with! We have been lucky enough to have her shoot both our family photos and maternity photos a year apart. I was blown away with the results each time. She perfectly captured the moments we wanted to hold on to forever. We will continue to work with her in the future as our family grows.
Katie P.
Katie P.
My wife and I did a mini bluebonnet session with Lindsay and she did a wonderful job! She let us include our dog and she was super accommodating to make it a mini maternity photo session for my wife who was 36 weeks pregnant. The photos were ready super quick and the website for accessing the photos was simple and convenient. Thanks Lindsay!
Jarrett T.
Jarrett T.
Amazing work and quick turn around; very responsive communication and beautiful results
Dallas D.
Dallas D.
Lindsay did an amazing job working with our large extended family of 15. We get to spend lots of time together, but have never taken the time to have someone else capture those moments. We are so happy we now have this beautiful images to cherish. Lindsay was helpful on choosing a beautiful location, different groupings of our family, and even encouraged us to have some fun photos/less posed--that turned out to be some of our favorites. We can't wait to work with Lindsay again in the future.
Julia D.
Julia D.
We just had our family pictures taken by Lindsay. She did a great job! Very friendly and easy to work with. We will definitely be scheduling Spring pictures with her! I also think her pricing is pretty reasonable as well. You won’t regret!
Lauren R.
Lauren R.
Lindsay does a fantastic job taking family photos! My family has used Lindsay a couple of times for our family photos and we are very happy for the photos she took. You will not be disappointed in selecting her. She is very responsive, professional, and edits your photos and gets them to you in a timely manner! :)
Megan W.
Megan W.
WOW! Don’t have enough wonderful things to say about Lindsay! She did our extended family photos last week and we were ALL so impressed with her (even the guys that don’t normally like to take pictures!!). She kept our crew of 18 people moving and got through all the shots we wanted in no time, even with kids and babies in tow. She captured such precious moments of our families and will cherish these pictures for generations to come. Lindsay was a dream to work with on the back end as well, very responsive and organized, and we had our edited prints back in days!!! She is warm and friendly so much FUN to work with!! We’re already thinking of what occasion we can hire her again for!!
Miranda M.
Miranda M.
Lindsay was a dream to work with! We did a mini session with our 4mo newborn and Lindsay far exceeded our expectations. From the get go, she responded quickly and answered all of our questions. As first time parents and wanting to get family photos done, we had no idea what to expect. Lindsay made us feel comfortable and made the session fun and easy. She had our photos to us in a matter of days and they are beautiful! We would absolutely use her again in the future and I wouldn't hesitate for a second to refer her to family and friends. Thank you again!
Stephanie H.
Stephanie H.
We hired Lindsay for a family session with our newborn son. She was incredible by providing warm, caring service with professional photos. We can't wait to hire her again when our son becomes older!
Grant L.
Grant L.
Such a great photographer.! We did holiday pictures but I can’t wait to do a full shoot with her. Captured my kids perfectly❤️
sarah S.
sarah S.
Lindsay is a great photographer and I can't recommend her enough. We did a family photoshoot with her. I wanted perfect fall colors and the golden hour light for our shoot. Lindsay was so accommodating regarding it and moved around shoot day to make sure we achieve both things. The photoshoot itself was amazing. She made the whole experience a breeze. I was nervous how my 3 year old will be but Lindsay was able to make her pose and smile and the photos turned out great.
Tehreem F.
Tehreem F.
We thoroughly enjoyed our downtown family session with Lindsay! She was able to capture some truly sweet and special moments with our energetic 2 year old. The pictures were ready in a week and we love them! We look forward to working with Lindsay again in the future as our family continues to grow!
Katelyn H.
Katelyn H.
Lindsay has so much talent and a great eye. We've been doing family photos for years and this is the first year where I feel like we really nailed it. Lindsay is wonderful at getting your best angles. We will definitely use her again. I LOVE our holiday photos!
kerry M.
kerry M.
Lindsay captured our family holiday photos this year and we love them! She was great with our three tween boys and the photos are great! We recommend Lindsay!
Kelli H.
Kelli H.
I hired Lindsay to do Fresh 48 and in homeNewborn photos for my first baby and she was amazing! My son ended up spending the first five days of his life in the NICU and Lindsay was amazing at being flexible and finding a time to come do the photos in the NICU once things settled down a little bit and my son was healthy enough to have photos taken just before he was discharged. Not only that but she created beautiful images in the world’s most poorly lit little area of the NICU where my son was stationed. Perhaps even more importantly she came in to take the photos with a great positive energy and immediately made us feel comfortable even though we were in a stressful situation and had nurses hovering around us. For the in home session, she was amazing at capturing stunning shots and had creative ideas about how to get the best photos. She also was so good with my son in his individual photos taking care to make him comfortable and cozy. Finally I want to add that Lindsay’s turnaround for the completed photos was SO FAST!! All in all, it was a great experience and we will treasure our photos forever. Thank you Lindsay!
Rachel T.
Rachel T.
Lindsay is such a talented photographer! I feel lucky to know her!
Kathryn F.
Kathryn F.
Amazing work! We have been using Lindsay once a year for the last 10+ years for our family photos!
Jen C.
Jen C.
She is an amazing photographer! She is so patient with our kids capturing moments we will treasure for a lifetime. Highly recommended her for family and newborn photo shoots!
Jayde A.
Jayde A.
Lindsay is creative and talented. Her experience and knowledge shows in her work. We enjoyed her personable, easy-going, and warm personality and her attention to detail. Lindsay was punctual and efficient with the time we had together.
Michelle K.
Michelle K.
Lindsay Herkert is an amazing photographer! I had the pleasure of having her photograph my family for many years in a row. Her passion, creativity, and professionalism show is every shot she takes! Austin is lucky to have her!!!
Stacie M.
Stacie M.
Lindsay is a extraordinary photographer. She has captured some of the most beautiful moments in our lives. She has been taking our family photos for over 8 years now. She has such a talent and passion for photography. It is her gift.
Kristin A.
Kristin A.
Lindsay is amazing!!! We truly treasure our photos. Highly recommend this kind, awesome, and very talented photographer. Thank you Lindsay for capturing these moments in our lives.
leighann W.
leighann W.
Beautiful work and has a great eye! Not only are her pictures gorgeous but she makes the process fun and stress free. As a parent the words “family photo session” and “stress free” don’t usually correlate but with Lindsay that is what you get. She has an amazing ability to connect with children and understands the challenges of photographing them! My kids loved her and it was reflected in the images she took. Can’t wait to use her again!
Melissa R.
Melissa R.
Lindsay was great! She was easy to work with before, during, and after the photo shoot. The digital album was delivered quickly following the session and she captured gorgeous natural light photos of my family. A true master at her craft, highly recommend!
Sophia B.
Sophia B.
Lindsay has been my family’s photographer for 10 years now and she is hands down the best!!! She has done our family pictures, newborn pictures, first birthday pictures, varies holiday themed pictures, etc. She is extremely professional, creative, friendly and a perfectionist when it comes to her photography! I highly highly recommend her to anyone who wants amazing, high quality, pictures. You will not be disappointed.
Jaimie J.
Jaimie J.
Lindsay was so great! We had some interesting hurdles to jump on our photo shoot day (cold weather, a site she hadn’t really had a chance to preview) and she handled it all like a pro! Our pictures turned our wonderful! She even captured our two rambunctious puppies!
Allie M.
Allie M.
I have hired Lindsay for years for everything from our birth photos, newborn shoots, cake smash, and annual family photos. Shes incredibly professional, always comes prepared, has amazing creativity and makes us all feel so comfortable in front of the camera. I can not recommend her enough. Her photos have captured some of my favorite memories and we are so grateful for her work!
Amanda G.
Amanda G.
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