The Inner Voice

Do we end up doing the kind of creative work we do by coincident or is there a bigger reason for why we end up doing paintings, songs, novels, graphics, poems or whatever we like to do? Like I am a photographer (but do other stuff as well, it has to be said). Was it purely coincidence that I ended up choosing this path?

At some point in my early life, I was surely inspired by close friends who picked up the camera and eventually got me interested in photography as well. None of them ever became professional photographers, but we had great fun in the exchange of our increasing passion. Later on during my academic studies the friend I was doing a master thesis together with, decided to pursue a photographic career instead. We were both avid photographers then, not professionals however, and were often out shooting together. Not long after he got a foot into a photo studio, I began pursuing a photographic career myself, but rather in a documentary direction.

Would I not have become a photographer without the push from my friends? Maybe so, but then maybe I would have discover my passion for photography anyway. I don’t know, but what I do know is that photography feels right for me. Generally, I feel alive when I can be creative, so maybe any other artistic work would have been just as fulfilling for me. Of course, there is such thing as talent, so maybe I wouldn’t have become good at sculpturing, for instance, or performances. However, I have never put much trust in talent, as I think it’s more inhibition than lack of talent that makes us turn away from certain endeavours.

What I know is I am a visual guy. I experience the world in a visual kind of way. I love reading, nevertheless, but when I read a novel, it’s like a movie running before my inner eye. It’s the same the other way around, when I am writing. Now I’d rather use an internal movie that I transcribe into words. Unnecessary to say then, that I love watching movies, and have probably watched more movies than most.

There are so many examples that show the way I visually orientate myself in the world. Like when using Google Maps to find direction from one place to another, I know many people who would rather print out a written description of the way. I, on the other hand, will always print out a map with the route. That is so much easier for me, and I never get lost.

Generally, I don’t get lost no matter where I go. It’s like my brain draws an internal map wherever I go, as I go. I never feel disorientated—well, almost never at least—even in places, I have never been before. After breaking up from my academic studies I went travelling for half a year, sort of my first attempt at making a living as a photographer. At some point two friends of mine, I was travelling together with for a while, and I flew into Hong Kong. It was night; it was dark and all quiet overwhelming with its busy streets and chaotic city layout. From the airport, we took a buss into downtown Kowloon on the mainland. Even if this was my first visit to Hong Kong, I could tell when we needed to get off the bus, knowing we were close by the hotel we had chosen to stay at. All from looking at a map in the airport.

The same many years later. I had just met my love one and was visiting her hometown, Seattle, for the first time. Back then she was teaching at a massage school situated in downtown Seattle. One of the first days, she took me up in Space Needle. While walking around the platform high above the city, she started to look for the school, wanting to point it out to me. We had visited the school the day before, and I could immediately pick it out from the top of the Space Needle. It took a minute or so before she could ratify I was right.

So, yes, I am very much a visual guy. What is my point? It may be coincidence however we end up doing the kind of creative work we do, but I still think we need to listen to our inner voice and bring it out in whatever way feels right for us. It’s not about talent, but finding the creative expression that spurs our passion.

What spurs your creative passion?

58 thoughts on “The Inner Voice

  1. My husband is very much like that. You can tell him how to do something, and he might get it. But show him once, and he is a master. He rarely gets lost too. I am visual in that I can imagine, and see something, and create it in my mind. This sometimes has been bad because I will see what I want a room to be decorated like, or a project to look like, then I can never find the things I need to create it.

  2. I know I am a visual person…I have always said I have a photographic memory, I can visualise diagrams I have seen, for example, and can see myself sat eg in a restaurant with the view as it was at the time I was there, even the food I was eating… photography is my creative outlet of choice because I am lousy at drawing! I have dabbled in poetry, but that isn’t my natural ‘pull’

      1. I rather think I have, Otto…..but I’m trying hard to put more emotion into my images, a constant challenge!

  3. I love how you described this Otto – that we know what we are meant to do when it makes us feel alive. It’s when I am with people who are different than me that I really realize this. There are people who actually feel alive and fulfilled when adding up rows of numbers! So let them do that, and let of us who feel alive when we create, create. Then together, we can meet the world’s needs if we stop rejecting who we really are, afraid we are not enough or we are wrong. Like your life, for example, lived in the aliveness of creating, is an absolute encouragement and inspiration to me! Thank you Otto.

    1. I fill lucky to be able to what I like to do—at least most of the time. But you are of course right. All people have different approaches to life, and it’s when we combine those approaches the magic appears.

  4. I’m very much like you as far as being a visual person. When I was a kid I loved to paint and draw and create things. I wasn’t very good but I enjoyed it. When it came time to go to college I looked for something I could use my ideas but not have to physically draw it. Photography was the answer. I loved it. Years later when I went back to school for Television and Film it seemed like a natural progression. I will always consider myself a TV Producer.
    As far as maps and directions go, again I am much like you. I love maps and often buy them as souvenirs from places I go. I could spend hours going through an Atlas. I’ve always had an imbedded sense of direction and never get lost. He-Who is directionally challenged and always gets himself turned around and lost. He considers me his personal GPS.

    1. I had to smile about you being a personal GPS for your He-Who. I have been that so many times, too. As for maps and atlases, I certainly travelled the world long before I could do it for real.

  5. Creativity is so important. It helps keep us sane in a world that seems to have become so fractured. Lovely post. Especially love the photo. It is close to the view I had from my living room window when I lived in Seattle for 15 years.

  6. Photography is an art, the difference in the hobbyist and the artist is creativity, seeing what others miss. You are truly gifted with creativity Otto.

      1. You are too kind and very generous and a truly gifted photographer. Your photos are some if the very best I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy Otto

          1. Lol! Sorry Otto, just speaking the truth. You have every reason to be extremely proud of your work.

  7. Interesting post Otto. I read somewhere, that if we don’t know our passion or have lost our way, look back to what held our interest and we loved doing when we were 11 or 12 and that will give us a guide. I have loved photography since I was 8 but only now have I realised it is the calling I should have followed. Obviously a slow learner as I’m just about to enter my 7th decade 🙂

    1. Slow or fast, it doesn’t matter. As long as we enjoy the path. But I think there is much true in what you say. When we were younger we had much less inhibition and could just do whatever we liked. So, yes, looking back is sometimes extremely valuable.

  8. Very interesting stories of you and younger you here. I have similar situation about how my current career or at least education path was chosen. I was hang around with a friend who got me started interested in the current field but he did go separate way. Your talent about sense of direction just reminds me of a friend who I used to travel on a job a long time back. He never got lost. We were in the city that he had never been before and we just drove around to find interesting things during the night off. He ensured me that do not worry that he never got lost and he loved to get lost.

  9. A very interesting post as always Otto. I think if we are creative, we need to create. Even if this is just producing a meal in the kitchen, we can get some measure of satisfaction. My degree wasn’t in a creative subject, life up until now has always somehow got in the way of pursuing my desire to be truly creative in some sort of artistic endeavour. Now I am fulfilled and enjoying my creativity. I have rediscovered photography and in a very short time, have made up for a lot of lost years just proving the old adage, it’s never too late.. 🙂

    1. For many people life does get in the way of pursuing their true desires. I am happy you have found your path, and it shows in your work. Your inner voice is very happy. 🙂

  10. I think I feel most fulfilled when I have helped an author bring a shuffled manuscript into a three-dimensional book, like a baby cradled in their arms. That is such a lovely feeling. But I’m most at peace and bliss when I’m outdoors and far from other people.

  11. My little brother is like that, never gets lost, always knows the way… me? i have no sense of direction, and can’t drive down curvy roads and get to where i want to go… i can only live in cities with straight streets if i am to drive alone… it’s difficult

  12. I’ve been thinking about this, and have decided that the real talents I have are for curiosity and seeing. I notice, and I make connections. The fact that I can write a coherent sentence isn’t the real talent — anyone can learn to do that. But it’s the open-eyed scanning of the world that provides the answer to the question I’m asked on almost a monthly basis: “How do you find such interesting topics to write about?” it seems that curiosity and an ability to “see” probably will serve me well as I learn photography, too.

    1. Those two qualities are great for any artist. All kids are curious and see the world with open eyes, but, unfortunately, must of us lose the capabilities when we grow older.

  13. Interesting topic and post, Otto. I have been wondering about those things as well, much because I have always been pulled in two opposite directions. I can get immersed in a tough statistical analysis in my work and really enjoy it, but I equally love creative and artistic pursuits. First it was music, now it is photography and digital art. And my passion towards the creative is growing as I ‘mature’. A middle road generalist, or maybe an ‘observer’.

  14. Reading novels is like watching movies for me, too. Same about the maps and other things I’d remember by calling up an image in my brain 🙂 I always loved to read but can’t remember if I had any wish to create as a child, only that I was drawn to writing when I became an adult and only picked up photography a couple of years ago. Maybe my mind has just been too busy, too distracted with other things to hear my inner creative voice. Sometimes I’m still wondering where it suddenly came from or why I didn’t notice it before.

    As you might remember, I have a background in science and even now that I decided to spend some time with just making art, I still notice how the analytical side of my brain keeps kicking in. On the other hand, the skill of observation is quite handy as a scientist and as a photographer. I think my creative passion is still strongly spurred by the wish to capture the beauty that is out there or create it from something ordinary because I’m a visual person and beautiful things make me happy. I’m also drawn to painting, thinking about something abstract in large scale with lots of paint, but it would take up so much more space than photography so I just continue to paint with light instead.

    1. My first thought is that you were probably very creative at younger age, too, but maybe didn’t notice it, as you suggest yourself. All children are very creative before school or parents or whatever kill their desire to be creative. Interestingly enough I started out with pursuing a scientific career as well, so I have it exactly the same way, my analytic nature never giving me a rest.

  15. Great post Otto. For me it was always words, from a very young age and I always immersed myself in books. They were like movies to lose myself in.
    I’m also a visual person however unlike you I do have a capacity to get lost! 🙂

  16. It seems to me that creativity does not necessarily use the same outlet throughout life. I was born into a very musical family, read music at university and taught and performed music for more than thirty years. Throughout that time a latent interest in the visual arts became increasingly important to me and now the balance is reversed.

  17. I do think we’re born with talents, and that those talents either grow or fade depending on how much we feed them. One thing is for sure, talent isn’t anything without the work to grow them though. Good post!

  18. Awesome photo Otto, although I must say I am a little biased as you can almost see my place from there, and nothing quite like summer in Seattle. As for the creative voice, absolutely necessary to listen and find what it is that stirs the soul. With my nieces and nephews we often talk about what makes us feel alive, makes us fee good ~ and it comes when we are allowed to be creative.

    For me, photography and writing does this for me ~ and it allows me to also apply this into my non-photography business and life, it all feeds off so positively. Being positive, allows for more focus and effort ~ and effort can be more important than talent at times. Great post Otto, hope your summer is going well.

  19. I think its all about finding that medium of expression which is closest to your thoughts. For some it happens in an instant, for others it takes a while. It can be a difficult process, at times even frustrating. But ultimately your instincts do guide you to that ‘right’ medium.

  20. I’m just learning about how creativity is a motivator for me. Lovely to hear your story. It’s so interesting when people speak about their process and desire. I believe that the energy of life is always giving you chances to know your creative side. It has more to do with when you are open or available enough to realize it. Sometimes, we need to have many introductions to something before we make a connection that we should give it a try. I’m working on a blog about all my spiritual/intuitive experiences so I can get to know this part of me and use it more in my life. Here I the blog Thanks for your story!

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog, Julia. And yes, you are right it may take some more than one attempt or introduction to be able to connect with your creative side. Sounds like you are on the track.

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