Floating Again


I strongly believe that the joy of creating in and of itself is the driving engine for artists. We create because creating is fun, is uplifting, is developing, is opening our minds, is exciting, is a way to express our innermost feelings. My motto has always been that we do not create because we hope for success, but because we enjoy the creative process itself. Creativity is its own fulfilment.

Success, however, is of course not a bad thing, but it becomes a road to frustration if that is what drives our creativity. If we start to look for ways to make our creative work more popular we lose that which is our genuine expression, and thus what could make it stand out from everything else. This much said, I also acknowledge that approval is something we all strive for and something that can spur our energy towards the creative process.

Some of my photos from Cuba have earlier this year been invited to participate in the 4th Biennale of Fine Art & Documentary in Berlin. The exhibition takes place in October and of course, I am very pleased to have been asked to participate. As you may know if you have read my posts lately, I have been in a bit of a creative rut lately. Having worked with preparations for the photo exhibition in Berlin this week has been good for me; it’s been inspiring and energizing. I have to admit that.

The invitation to the 4th Biennale in Berlin came as a result of a competition I took part of last year. Three photos I had sent to the Jacob Riis Award had been picked out. I didn’t win the award, but my work was rated among ten finalists. I didn’t know that at the time, though. I registered that I hadn’t won, and thought no more of it. That was until the invitation from Berlin came and I was made aware of the fact.

I have not done much creative work as of last week when I wrote about the rut I was in, but I feel my mind is lifting, that I am about to break lose from the straightjacket of negative thoughts I have put myself in. Working with the preparations for the 4th Biennale of Fine Art & Documentary in Berlin has definitely helped, but also small pleasures in daily life, that has nothing to do with photography or creativity as such.

For instance, yesterday I overcome a big inhibition I have fought with for a long time. I like skiing, and I am quite okay—in all modesty. However, in one of the areas I go skiing there has been a black double diamond run that I have not dared to even make an attempt to negotiate. I have done all other black double diamonds in the area—and in many other ski areas as well, but this one, was really pushing my limits. It’s probably the steepest run I have wanted to give a try, coming out through a narrow shoot, and where falling means not being able to stop before the slope evens out a bit. Yesterday I finally did it. I had my heart up in my throat, but I did it. Moreover, I now know that the inhibition has been broken. Next time will be much easier. In the bigger picture, breaking the impediment has giving me some confidence, giving me energy to think in positive ways again, is helping me to breakout of the before mentioned creative rut.

Thank you to all of you who sent encouragement to me after last week’s post. It means a lot, and gives and impetus to move forward again. Stay creative!

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D MII and a 24-105 mm lens set at 24mm. Exposure: 1/160 of a second and f/8. It was processed in Lightroom and the app Snapseed with the filter Drama and Frames.


81 thoughts on “Floating Again

  1. How wonderful that your outstanding photography is being honored in this way. I am glad it has got you working again. The world is richer for it.

  2. In an interview with what I believe was the Associated Press Isaac Asimov once said, in effect, that he has to write. There’s no option in the matter, he HAS TO do it. He made the declaration maybe only a few to several years before his death, and that’s how he went out of this world. Writing.

    As a visual artist, I have always identified strongly with his statement.

    Yes, there were times when people I hadn’t spoken to in a while, even relatives, asked me if I was making money from my art. I was proud to tell them not much, just some; whether it was true or not. Yes, I saw the looks on their faces that revealed that they felt that I was naive, a dreamer and so on. I knew that they didn’t get it, and no matter what I could ever say I couldn’t make them understand.

    Yes, I am a commercial artist. I enjoy making money from my art (not even just the money but the practice of art marketing itself — business) but really, the doing so is largely so that I can afford to keep making art. If I could do it all for free, I certainly would. There is no choice in the matter. I HAVE TO create.

    1. You are a true artist, my friend. When we simple have to make art, it is authentic, it’s real and it’s becomes captivating. I didn’t know that Asimov made that statement shortly before he died, but it makes sense. Making money is of course necessary, but can’t be the driving force behind work of art—although we all have to make sacrifices from time to time. Thank you for sharing your experience, Allan.

  3. For me, the most meaningful part of the post is that you thought that you hadn’t won the competition but in essence you had,.. you just didn’t know it until later! Th!is is a wonderful story with an important message for all of us. Thanks

  4. >> My motto has always been that we do not create because we hope for success, but because we enjoy the creative process itself. Creativity is its own fulfilment.

    >> I also acknowledge that approval is something we all strive for and something that can spur our energy towards the creative process.

    >> I now know that the inhibition has been broken. (may be fear of success!!!!)


    Take care Otto

  5. Congrats on being chosen for Berlin show and wonderful to be floating again. I must have missed your previous post when I was away. Glad you are renergized. All the best, Ruth in Pittsburgh

  6. Congratulations on the Berlin show. How timely is that to boost your creative juices again.

    Lots of wise words in this post.

    It’s a fine line between doing the art we love and having to follow the path which makes money. Some artists are lucky enough to make a living from everything they create, be it drawing, painting, photography or design etc. Sometimes their work goes in and out of fashion and there are lean times when everything’s a struggle.

    I’m pleased to hear that negative ‘in the rut’ phase is passing.

    Good luck with the exhibition.

    1. Yes, there are plenty of artists make a living of their art. I think those most successful are those still following their heart and what is true to themselves. Thank you for the encouraging words, Vicki.

  7. Congratulations on many fronts, Otto. As a fellow skier I have felt exactly the same standing at the top of a Black run and trying to summon the courage to attempt it, and the sense of satisfaction when finally it is mastered.

  8. I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling so much better Otto. Conquering one’s fears really is such a boost to confidence. Congratulations on all counts! 🙂

  9. I’m happy for you, Otto – and of course there are lessons to be learned. To conquer ones fears and to win other prizes when you lose – epic boosts! Congratulations and good luck in the Berlin show!
    By the way, Berlin is close enough for a visit to the Biennale in October. Is it open for “ordinary” visitors as well?

  10. How the universe does respond: It seems that you are being called to continue your creative journey and share it with us. Congratulations, I hope that it fills your spirit with enthusiasm and hope.

  11. Congratulations! A reward well-earned! Love what you do with colors, and this photo definitely shows your skills. I like the skiing analogy. Just like trying that slope, trying new things creatively breaks through our inhibitions and let’s us achieve more creatively. Great post!

  12. This is a stunning photo of the streets of Cuba Otto, it captures the color and vibrancy that remains among the decaying structures of this once opulent and luxuriant island. It is truly beautiful. Congratulations on being selected to participate in the 4th Biennale in Berlin, well deserved! My best to you, Holly

  13. Congratulations on being invited to participate in the 4th Biennale of Fine Art & Documentary in Berlin. It is a well deserved honour and I do hope that you will enjoy it to the fullest. It’s funny that the Jacob Riis Award doesn’t reveal to the participants that they were in the top 10. I think it would be very encouraging to entrants to know that they placed very well. Did they not give anyone other than the winner any feedback?
    I’m really pleased for you, Otto. Congratulations!

  14. I’ve often heard artists talk about being “in the flow,” but the thought of “floating again” intrigues me. It seems different, in a way I can’t quite pinpoint. The best I can do is point to the common English idiom about “floating off to sleep.” There’s that interesting point between consciousness and sleep where we’re in both worlds, and thoughts can wander in the most interesting way.

    Perhaps that’s how we come to creativity again, after a fallow period. Rather than steeling ourselves, and “getting to work” with grim determination, we may do better to float back into productivity: relaxed, and once again enjoying the process.

    In any event, I’m so pleased that you’ve had some photos chosen. The recognition’s well deserved. And it’s been lovely reading this post in conjunction wtih your previous post. They belong together, and we need to remember that both sorts of experiences will come.

  15. For me there is a fine line between achievement and success. Achievement I define as reaching a personal ‘target’ whereas success denotes recognition by others. When we are lucky the two coincide! I think your post illustrates the point very well.

  16. Otto, Congratulations with your participation in the 4th Biennale of Fine Art & Documentary in Berlin! And with your creative progress 🙂
    Btw – I didn’t know the Jacob Riis Award. But Jakob A Riis grew up in the same Danish town as I did: Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark.

  17. Congratulations, Otto! I am so happy to hear you are being recognized for you creativity and skill! My mother always taught me that lots of people have talent, but hard work and pushing through plateaus is what sets successful people apart. I wish you all the best as you continue your journey forward!

  18. Congratulations, Otto – on the well-deserved recognition of your photography and on conquering that ski run. I liked this sentence you wrote: “If we start to look for ways to make our creative work more popular we lose that which is our genuine expression, and thus what could make it stand out from everything else.” I’ve been comparing myself lately to a photographer friend and have been feeling “less than,” which is never a good idea. I’m hoping spring will come soon and I will climb out of my own creative rut and lingering winter blues!

    1. I hope you will and, yes, it’s so easy to compare ourselves with others. Instead we should value our uniqueness, which I know sometimes is very hard. Thank you for the encouraging words.

  19. How exciting to have navigated the skiing challenge you had been so reluctant to perform. And congratulations on being included in the 4th Biennale of Fine Art & Documentary in Berlin, I find all your work in Cuba absolutely compelling. As for any slump you experience, I think that must come after exerting so much effort in long and protracted period of creativity. You simply empty yourself out for a bit and it takes a while to recharge! Maybe you need to spend more time skiing. 🙂

    1. I will definitely spend more time skiing—although this season is about to run out. Otherwise you are probably right about having emptied myself. I am in the process of regaining the energy. 🙂 Thanks for the encouraging words, Debra.

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