Close up abstract image of stream side ice somehow capturing the green color from an unseen underwater element.
The small stream side ice formations display the vibrant green color of an underwater source. The color was only visible as the water level rose to just touch the base of these interesting ice sculptures. Otherwise they were crystal clear from top to bottom.

There is a great group of photographers from the Flickr NH group that I try to get out with as often as I can. These meet-ups are always a good time and I’ve been introduced to some spectacular locations I never would have known about without the people in this group. As much as I enjoy these meet-ups, something has been on my mind lately. I’ve wondered if I’m at my creative best while out shooting with a group. This thought occurred to me this past weekend after reviewing the images I captured while on an outing to The Flume Gorge.  For the most part, with but a few exceptions, I was not overly pleased with the images I came back with. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought, and felt this way about the results from a group shoot. After other past meet-ups I have been less than thrilled with the results as well.

I was able to come away with a few images that I’m proud to have made, but it seems to me that I’m able to create more “keepers” if I’m out on my own. I can’t put a finger on why this might be, but I do have a few suspicions.  Is it the pressure I feel to keep up with the group, or to not hold them back, that takes my attention away from the creative thought process? Or it could be the simple fact that I spend more time socializing and less time “seeing?” I have a very strong suspicion it is mostly the later, as I truly enjoy the camaraderie of these group meet-ups. And I wouldn’t sacrifice these meet-ups at the altar of creativity for the sole purpose of increasing output. I can not put a value on the knowledge and the friendships I have gained as a direct result of these photography excursions. I haven’t met a single person on these group outings that hasn’t helped advance my photography in one way or another, be it with advice to help improve my photographic technique, or introducing me to a new place. All this is what make these meet-ups worthwhile.

The images shown here, some of my favorites,  have all been created while on a group photo shoot. “Ice Mushrooms” (above), “Ft Stark Sunrise” (below), and most recently, “Flume Gorge Covered Bridge”(bottom), all taken when in the company of others. I do feel these images hold their own as good photographs, and I’m not saying that I am unable to make good photographs unless I’m by myself, but I feel the images come more easily when it’s just me, my camera, and the great outdoors.

Sunrise seen from Fort Stark historic site in New Castle, NH. Whaleback Light can be seen in the distance.
The first rays of the morning sun cast a golden glow on the granite shore at the Fort Stark historic site in New Castle, NH. Whaleback Light can be seen keeping watch in the distance.
Covered bridge over the Pemigewasset River at the Flume Gorge covered in snow, mountains in the background.
Covered in snow, a Christmas wreath over its entrance, snow capped peak as a backdrop, the covered bridge at the Flume Gorge makes for a classic New England scenic image.

So to answer the question, are we better off alone when it comes to our creativity? Sometimes for me, I feel the answer is definitely yes, but always going it alone just wouldn’t be any fun. I would like to here your thoughts on whether you feel your creativity is hampered when in a group setting.

6 thoughts on “Creativity, are you better off alone?

  1. Nice post and one I almost could have written myself. The first time I ever shot with other people was on that Ft. Stark sunrise bid and I didn’t get anything nearly as good as you did (remember the frozen leaves? That’s my good shot). At first I found it hard to concentrate and came away with few, now I find it easier and come away with more (except the last Adams Point trek, 1 real keeper). I’ve become comfortable with breaking away and doing my own thing while with a group. Within reason though, I’m always cognizant of the overall movement of the group. It’s finding that tiny Zen Zone within and then acting on it. Remember when I ran off when we all got to Smart’s Brook in October? I was acting on what I saw to get it before I forgot or the light changed. You all thought I was nuts, but it was worth it.

  2. I do remember your “disappearing photographer act” from that day. I’m getting a feel for finding my Zen Zone as you call it, all the while trying to be mindful of the group.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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