“Do you know what will soon be the ultimate in truth? -- photography. Once it begins to reproduce colors, and that won't be long in coming. And yet you want an intelligent man to sweat for months so as to give the illusion he can do something as well as an ingenious little machine can!” - Paul Gauguin 1848–1903
After an insight occurs, one must check it out to see if the connections genuinely make sense. The painter steps back from the canvas to see whether the composition works, the poet rereads the verse with a more critical eye, the scientist sits down to do the calculations or run the experiments. Most lovely insights never go any farther, because under the cold light of reason fatal flaws appear. But if everything checks out, the slow and often routine work of elaboration begins.
There are four main conditions that are important during this stage of the process. First of all, the person must pay attention to the developing work, to notice when new ideas, new problems, and new insights arise out of the interaction with the medium. Keeping the mind open and flexible is an important aspect of the way creative persons carry on their work. Next, one must pay attention to one's goals and feelings, to know whether the work is indeed proceeding as intended. The third condition is to keep in touch with domain knowledge, to use the most effective techniques, the fullest information, and the best theories as one proceeds. And finally, especially in the later stages of the process, it is important to listen to colleagues in the field. By interacting with others involved with similar problems, it is possible to correct a line of solution that is going in the wrong direction, to refine and focus one's ideas, and to find the most convincing mode of presenting them, the one that has the best chance of being accepted.
One thing about creative work is that it's never done. In different words, every person we interviewed for the book said that it was equally true that they had worked every minute of their careers, and that they had never worked a day in all their lives. They experienced even the most focused immersion in extremely difficult tasks as a lark, an exhilarating and playful adventure. Even if we don't have the good fortune to discover a new chemical element or write the next great book, the love of the creative process for its own sake is available to all. It is difficult to imagine a richer life.
Creativity Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
“The Real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
Sontag On Photography - part I
Nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs. But many, through photographs, have discovered beauty. Except for those situations in which the camera is used to document, or to mark social rites, what moves people to take photographs is finding something beautiful. (The name under which Fox Talbot patented the photograph in 1841 was the calotype: from kalos, beautiful.) Nobody exclaims, "Isn't that ugly! I must take a photograph of it." Even if someone did say that, all it would mean is: "I find that ugly thing ... beautiful."
It is common for those who have glimpsed something beautiful to express regret at not having been able to photograph it. So successful has been the camera's role in beautifying the world that photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of the beautiful.
Photographic seeing meant an aptitude for discovering beauty in what everybody sees but neglects as too ordinary. Photographers were supposed to do more than just see the world as it is, including its already acclaimed marvels; they were to create interest, by new visual decisions. There is a peculiar heroism abroad in the world since the invention of cameras: the heroism of vision. Photography opened up a new model of freelance activity - allowing each person to display a certain unique, avid sensibility. Photographers departed on their cultural and class and scientific safaris, searching for striking images. They would entrap the world, whatever the cost in patience and discomfort, by this active, acquisitive, evaluating, gratuitous modality of vision. Alfred Stieglitz proudly reports that he had stood three hours during a blizzard on February 22, 1893, "awaiting the proper moment" to take his celebrated picture, "Fifth Avenue, Winter." The proper moment is when one can see things (especially what everyone has already seen) in a fresh way. The quest became the photographer's trademark in the popular imagination. By the 1920s the photographer had become a modern hero, like the aviator and the anthropologist - without necessarily having to leave home. Readers of the popular press were invited to join "our photographer" on a "journey of discovery," visiting such new realms as "the world from above," "the world under the magnifying glass," "the beauties of every day," "the unseen universe," "the miracle of light," "the beauty of machines," the picture that can be "found in the street." Everyday life apotheosized, and the kind of beauty that only the camera reveals - a corner of material reality that the eye doesn't see at all or can't normally isolate.
While most people taking photographs are only seconding received notions of the beautiful, ambitious professionals usually think they are challenging them. According to heroic modernists like Weston, the photographer's venture is elitist, prophetic, subversive, revelatory. Photographers claimed to be performing the Blakean task of cleansing the senses, "revealing to others the living world around them," as Weston described his own work, "showing to them what their own unseeing eyes had missed."