Creativity and constraints


Most of us don’t have to create in our lives. We all live and create with enough constraints. Whether it is not enough money, not enough time or thinking that we need the latest gear – we all have at least one.

You will find that there’s a fine line between constraints and excuses. I learned early on that needing the latest gear is simply an excuse. Constraints are limitations that we put in place to help us tap a little further into our creativity.

Don’t get me wrong, they are many reasons for not creating art or the life that we want. Some of those reasons are just reality. They are not excuses, it’s just life. However, these are not reasons to stop creating or for living our life.

A few years ago, while I felt that I was stagnating and I knew that I wanted to develop creatively and find a sense of self. I decided to put physical constraints and challenges to see how this would help me out of my creative funk. What this meant was to narrow down my kit to just one lens and see what this could yield. After missing lending lenses (which comes with additional costs that I don’t always have), I went out and got started. To add further constraints, I chose to use the same subject which meant multiple visits. I quickly run out of ideas and I realised that the only way to complete the task would be for me to try harder, think outside the box and become less rigid about what I’ve learned in regards to photography and composition etc…

By breaking a few of the rules, I created some of my favourite images and tested boundaries that I would never had before. This exercise has helped develop skills that I still use today.

Studies on creativity and constraint demonstrates that surprisingly when options are limited, we are able generate more, rather than less, varied solutions.

When faced with scarcity, it is important to give ourselves the freedom to use resources in less conventional ways. Without restrictions, we remain stuck in our old ways of thinking and doing the same things over and over again. As they say, if it ain’t broke, why fix it. I really try not to think that way as I have a high threshold for boredom and a very short attention span.

Constraints for me create an environment that demands that I unleash that which would otherwise remain untapped, which fuels my creativity. Instead of resisting constraints and seeing them as inhibitors why not reframe them as creative challenges essential to our growth.

Constraints shake us from the shackles of the status quo and force us to use our creativity to find new solutions. We engage our curiosities by shifting our perspective to help us maintain focus and direction. 

Gleam © Pamela Aminou

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