Kevin Stenhouse

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Limitations and Creativity

Work within a set of limitations.

I’m typically not a fan of handing out advice for new photographers, the thing I love about the crafty side of my art is how many different paths you can follow to create amazing work. In some ways that’s the problem, I’d like to address… the sheer magnitude of so many options.
Think of this as more of a suggestion for exploring photography.
Work within a set of limitations.

I notice I tend to like the work of people who limit their creative options. It’s not about style or trend or fashion it’s about creating a box and a set of conditions to work within. From there your personal style has an opportunity to shine through the noise of unlimited potential.

A couple of examples that come to mind are Penn and Platon. There are others, many others, and I would like to hear any suggestions from you.
If you’re lost as to what to shoot or how to shoot I suggest doing two things.
I’m not saying that being a free spirit and pulling concepts from everywhere and using every tool at your disposal is a bad thing. It’s fun! It’s liberating. It can also be stifling, cause stagnation and lead to G.A.S. The feeling that you need the next best thing or the next new idea to create the best work is an illusion. You don’t. Often the obstacle to your success is just an indicator of the path you need to take. Embrace restriction, setbacks and limitations. If you don’t have any, create them.

Lately, as in this shoot, I had several limitations. My very small space 11’ square and a manual focus lens from the 70s (Screwmount Pentax Takumark 55 1.8). It’s a prime so I’m limited in composition by moving within the space, it’s an old lens with inherent flaws (read character). I added a 30ish dollar m42 tilt adapter so I can mess with the in-and-out of focus areas. I dig many of these compositions that were imposed on me through the limitations. Whether self-imposed or due to space, it pushes me to think outside the box, while being constrained by it.
And… if you get the opportunity to work with someone like


Don’t worry about it. Pick up a phone, point-and-shoot and create; then consider yourself lucky as I do.

This is what happens sometimes.