How to: Get Better...
The past few months have been a whirlwind for my creative skill. There's no doubt I've taken HUGE steps in creative growth recently. I have noticed there's been a huge difference in the quality of photos and videos I've been creating. How exciting! But how have I gotten so much better? One could say I'm just a talented person, one could say I've just gotten a lucky shot... The truth is, there are specific reasons why I have grown creatively lately. Although you can grow by accident, I've found if you apply these 3 things in your life, you will see exponential growth, faster than you have ever seen before. Let me share them with you!
Get More Experience
by doing more...
This is kind of a no brainer... If you want to take better photographs, you have to take more photographs. If you want to get better at guitar... you have to play more guitar. If you want to write better, you have to write more words. There are times in my life when I just feel bored with creativity. In those moments it's most important for me to get out my camera and take pictures. There are times when I feel like I am stuck playing the same few chords. In those moments I need to play more guitar. When we get bored with what we are doing, but still force ourselves to keep going, we find new ways to "do." You'll learn new chords, you'll find new angles, you'll work with new words. If, once you get bored, you stop creating two things happen. One: your axe gets dull and you have to work harder (or resharpen it). and Two: you have robbed yourself of an opportunity to learn something new, therefore, putting yourself further back than what you were before you set your axe down. Bottom line: force yourself to keep going when it gets boring. I guarantee you, you will be happy with the results.
with people who are more talented than you
Surround yourself with people who are more talented than yourself
In the beginning of 2017, I was in a situation where I set creative bar. It was up to me to come up with new ideas and push the envelope when it came to creativity. I felt I was making strides in my own personal creativity and was happy with the results I was seeing. Here we are at the end of 2017 and I am in a completely different situation surrounded with people who are way more talented than myself. I work in a church on a team with several members who are stuffed with talent. I personally have never been in this situation. I have always been part of small organizations and I was the driving force of my own creativity. Now, I work with a large specialized team, and also have experience outside of the church working next to filmmakers who have an unbelievable amount of talent. This has pushed me in two different ways:
1. I am learning like crazy from them. Obviously, just working next to others you gain insight by the way they accomplish things. Simple things like how they organize their workflow all the way to particular ways to do certain specific tasks. Every day I am learning new skills from them, making me raise my bar.
2. Because I am surrounded with people more talented than myself, I have noticed I am subconsciously forcing myself to produce better content. It's a weird experience for me to think of myself not as talented as those around me. Although I have been in rooms filled with people smarter than me before, I have never felt the urge to push myself to my own personal limits. I think I have said I was but it just wasn't the truth. I think the difference now is I have some how surrounded myself with people who are very likeminded and I want to be able to make sure I am pulling my own weight. In doing this, I have noticed my content has taken a jump in quality without formally learning new information. This doesn't only apply to my content at work, but all of my creative content has taken a bump in quality.
It's pretty crazy the power others can have in our lives. I have never felt belittled around these talented people I get to spend time with, if anything I feel they give me more credit than I deserve, but I still push myself to strive farther than I ever have. Although it is completely up to yourself to see personal growth, if you can find a few people who are near the same skill level or slightly higher in your field to spend time with and "talk shop," I promise you will see higher quality in your content.
you can't do, and do it!
This is a big one. And a simple one. Simply look at someone else's work and say "how did they do that?" Figure it out, and do it! There's plenty of times when I am watching a Youtube Vlogger or tutorial and wonder just how they "did that" and I will then research how to do a certain effect, or get a certain shot, or find a certain angle. By doing this I now have that skill in my toolbox I can store away for the perfect moment. When the time is right, I will remember copying the idea and then add elements of the idea to my creative content. It's a simple process but before you can add that skill into your toolbox, you need to spend time replicating someone else's process so you can make it your own. Try it out. Find a piece of music you couldn't already play and replicate it. Watch for a commercial where you wonder how did they make that motion graphic, and research it until you can do it. Actually do it. Get in After Effects and spend the hour on that 2 second motion graphic. You can do it. Figure it out! Don't let your limitations limit your creativity. Just get it done.
A Few Extra Tips
Here's a few extra things I've learned over the past few months.
TV IS A TIMESUCK - I've realized that you can sit in front o f a tv and lose 5 hours of your life without even trying. As much as you think it's a way for you to unwind, you are really just wasting your life. Find a new way to unwind: read a book, listen to a new album, spend time with your family, spend time with yourself, read your Bible, organize something, build something, get some rest, go to sleep. Seriously, this is coming from someone who makes videos for a living. Don't get sucked into sitting in front of a screen for several hours at a time, wasting your life. Your time is worth more than that to you.
TAKE NOTES ON WHAT THE WORLD IS SHOWING YOU - I am always trying to find new ways to look at life. If you see a photograph you like, note it. If you see a graphic that catches your eye, note it. If you hear a piece of music you like, note it. Make sure you are paying attention to the creation around you. You'll be surprised just how inspired you can be from what is happening around you!
GEAR WILL NOT MAKE YOU BETTER - As much as I LOVE new gear, it will not improve my game. In fact, I think it may be a hinderance to growth. Hear me out: when I get new gear I get distracted by the shiny new buttons and forget about the skill. Most of the time when I get a new lens, I actually see a drop in quality in my photos for awhile because I'm more focused on the new toy than I am with the skill of taking photos. Also, whenever you add a new piece of gear to your tool belt, it takes a period of time for you to get acquainted with how the piece of equipment can be used in your process. Now, that being said... new gear is essential for growth. The better your gear, the easier it is for you to create quality content. BUT don't let the gear blind you of the creative process of your craft. Example. I recently started working at a new job with lots of new toys I had never played with before. It's taken me months to get acquainted with the equipment. I finally am just starting to get to the point where I am able to subconsciously make the adjustments I need to make in the real world situations. As time goes on, I am more comfortable with the equipment and can use the gear to help me tell the story better. Bottom line, don't go buy something new and expect to see a huge improvement. Instead, use what you have and make people wonder how you got such quality content out of such subpar equipment.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE CONSTANTLY POURING INTO YOURSELF - This is a common theme for me. If I stop learning, I stop growing. Make sure you have a constant intake of fresh information. There's several ways how I accomplish this. Youtube is one of them (not pointless youtube of bears juggling bunnies, But those are fun too...) Find people on Youtube who can help you improve. Make sure you are reading. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. I have several ideas come to me because I am well rested.
At the end of the day, the only person who can help you get better is yourself so get at it!
If you haven't read the book "Oh, the places you'll go!" by Dr. Suess lately, you should. Seriously.