Part Two: The Artist – Diamond amid the sewage

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Abbey Lee braves appearing in a mock up photograph which contains every possible rookie mistake, poor photography technique, awkward and cliché posing, and just downright bad taste, we could come up with, to show up the constant flow of photographs uploaded to the internet on a daily basis, which are almost identical to this in so many aspects, masquerading as ‘art’, created by legions of self proclaimed, and (almost always) ‘international award winning’ photographers, and invariably rewarded by comments of ‘awesome capture’, ‘inspired’, and even ‘you should become a professional’

After careful reading and attention to accepted definitions given in Part One of this blog: “Are You Really Creative?” it seems evident that self proclaimed ‘artists’ are coming from the wrong end of the creativity spectrum.

In this Anti-Intellectual era we are now so blessed to be living in, the time honoured tradition of ‘artists’ only being drawn from the most accomplished, technically expert, and imaginative, with something profound or at least meaningful to express, has been well and truly abandoned in favour of the naive tyro, who not only has little to no experience, but actively shuns the development of required expertise, technical ability, and problem solving skills, in order that ‘creativity’ and the ‘artist’s integrity’ and ‘passion’ should not be corrupted.

The oft heard mantra: “I will succeed because photography is my Passion!” is indeed the cry of the times, no matter how fanciful or delusional it may be.

Armed then, with apparently nothing but their passion, and faith in their own mostly delusional raw talent, most have not, and many will probably never have the talent, ability, motivation, or originality of thought to get anywhere other than demoralising oblivion…and those few who do have the imagination and something original and inspiring to offer, or say to the world, have not the tools, the training, the experience or the knowledge of how to communicate their ideas and vision effectively.

In other words, their own naive attitudes towards creativity and their undeveloped concept of art, actually conspire against them ever acquiring the requisite skills.


  • Societally induced expectations of reward without work, inability to accept responsibility for one’s own actions or lack thereof, an over-arching belief that the world ‘owes me’, and the nanny state will protect and look after me, a general lack of inquisitiveness, and the desire for instant reward and gratification

  • Lack of effective and properly structured learning opportunities, in which education is increasingly becoming a world of underfunding and poorly trained and lower quality educators, including a preponderance of mickey mouse courses, the blind leading the blind, (or as some would say in more recent vernacular, the blonde leading the blind) style of internet instruction, and the piece-meal approach to learning advanced techniques, without first mastering the required basics

  • Coupled with this are two further aspects: a) so called ‘professional’ courses are increasingly becoming more a way to get people off welfare, rather than preparing them in any useful way for a career, and b) the vast majority of photography courses, excluding a very few high end ones, are not preparing potential professionals for the rigours of a very demanding and shrinking industry, but actually through choice of method and subject matter, and lack of teaching the very important skills of running and effectively promoting a viable business, are simply affirming amateurism.

  • The reliance on long outmoded preconceived fantasy ideas of the role of the artist, which are now actually being heavily promoted by the increasing ultra conservatism

  • The narcissistic delusion of greatness beyond ability, due to the indiscriminate sycophantic adulation of anything and everything posted on social media pages.

  • The rapid demise of former ‘arbitrators of worthiness’ such as print publications, competitive exhibitions and salons, rights managed stock libraries, and their replacement with pay to play vanity publishing; rights grab competitions; accept anything, especially the lowest common denominator micro-stock agencies; and encouragement to self market and self promote, or talk up how great, creative, wonderful, and otherwise talented you are, rather than letting your work show your real abilities.

  • The preponderance of the miracle work of ‘fix it in Photoshop’, where the best of a bad lot, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of attempts, can be readily salvaged and made great by simply, and usually ineptly, applying Photoshop manipulation, or even the complete reliance on ubiquitous, tacky, over saturated and generally over-processed ‘filters’ and ‘presets’, which supposedly turn even the most unbelievably ‘average’ snap into an instant work of art.

It seems that many would be artists have a very naive, immature and uninformed view of creativity, which hasn’t developed beyond the kindergarten level when Miss Prissy set out the poster paints, and suggested that: “we will all be creative today”.

Unfortunately many don’t recognise that there is and always will be a vast difference between having the wonder of a child, and a strong belief in the fantastic: and living, or trying to make a living completely deluded in a fantasy world.

One would think that all that time cloistered in their respective garrets suffering for their art, they would have plenty of time to check out a book or two, thumb through their camera manual, brush up on a little technique, but apparently not.

Imagine what your house would look like if the carpenter or bricklayer relied on nothing but his childhood skill with Lego bricks to do his job; the accountant who relied on his Year One ‘sums’; the architect who designed buildings with two roof-line windows, a door, a tree and a dog in the yard to match his primary school artwork. And the fate of the preschool minded brain surgeon doesn’t bear thinking about!

So why is the artist obsessed with practising his creativity, but abandoning all he has learned between now and then, convinced that he is not merely an artist, but worthy of being a paid professional salary, by relying on some mystical innate ‘inspiration’, divine providence and the results of simply by buying a paintbrush and canvas, a camera, a hammer and chisel, or any of the tools required by the various arts, and believes his first play sessions with them will produce nothing but masterpieces?

The age old Hollywood quip claims it takes twenty years to become an overnight success, but does it really?

Experience and serious study of successful artists from the past would seem to suggest it takes something more akin to a lifetime, filled not with simply practising the art-form, but acquiring knowledge, inquisitiveness and appreciation of all aspects of the world, vast life and love experience, serious study as well as careful observation, as maybe even a healthy does of the perhaps more flippant ‘life is just a bowl of cherries’ aspects as well.

The starving artist slaving away in his garret, for little or no recompense, and nothing but recognition by facebook friends, has always been a total myth, part of the false romance of the artist more or less promoted by those without any artistic talent whatsoever, or who have wished to portray the arts and artists as ‘ne’r do wells’, as a waste of space, or contemporaneously, a ‘lifestyle choice’ for the unemployables, and a ‘drain on the economy’.

So why the hell are contemporary artists not only falling for this guff, but actually promoting it, especially by accepting piteous pennies for work they do, working for free, pretending sanctimony by offering their work under ‘creative commons’ type exploitation, actively undercutting prices of real artists, churning out ‘masterpieces’ and ‘awesome images’ which in reality are little more than learning exercises, or worse still, should have been binned as a total failure, or an omen of talentless incompetence?

A Picasso, a Pollack, or any number of artists from the last 100 years, may look childlike, even childish on the surface, and inspire insipid phrases such as surely little Jimmy could that, even I could do better…it seems however that every little Jimmy nowadays is giving it a go, to an avalanche of cries of ‘awesome’, ‘inspired work’, and a ‘Like’ thumbs up.

With total disregard of the fact that it takes many years of hard work to achieve such childlike simplicity, and awe of wonder.

As model photography is the go to genre of wannabe photographic artists, it is no wonder that the cliché phrase ‘anybody can take great picture of beautiful woman’ springs to mind.

But can they? A quick scan of facebook ‘internationally award winning, published, professional photographers’ will soon show the opposite to be more likely…that it is incredibly easy to make a good looking girl look downright ugly.

Who hasn’t heard the bleating of amateur photographers whenever they gather in whining herds of more than two: Don’t use her as a model; she’s no good; her tits aren’t big enough; she’s got a belly on her; she might be good looking but a she’s a real bitch. And so they refuse to photograph anybody at all, holding out for the perfect model who will never come their way due to their attitude, and their uncanny ability to make the perfect look less than attractive.

Then there is the group who go other way, and accept all and sundry as camera fodder, with promises of “stick with me honey and I’ll make you a star”: hence the parade of gross snapshots of less than average girls with broken teeth, lifeless eyes, dull, unwashed hair, hideously coloured and shaped false nails, orange suntans, wall to wall tattoos, and all the wonderful, and exclusively amateur fantasies built around total misunderstanding of terms such as ‘plus size’ and ‘alternative modelling’.

But it takes an artist with an accumulation of knowledge, technique, problem solving ability, understanding of human psychology, a real affinity with people, and experience to make an average, less than confident, or a girl of low self esteem into a stunning photograph…that is what creativity is all about.

No its not making a silk purse out of a sows ear…that is just as impossible as making an artist out of a person who has owned his camera for no more than a day or two…it is merely using all the required skills of a true photographer (artist if you wish to stick with that pretentious, overused term) to draw the best from their subject.

As far from a first attempt snapshot as you can get, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. Even more-so, for those who rely on nothing but unsubstantiated faith in themselves, and blind ‘passion’.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

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Part one: Are you really Creative?


You call yourself a Creative, but are you really?

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The internet, especially the social media sites such as facebook, and ‘photography’ pages like flickr, and 500pix are today awash with photographs, which while claiming to be ‘professional’ and ‘creative’ are really nothing more than snapshots: banal, cliché ridden, dated, bereft of any compositional aspects, aesthetically bankrupt, technically incompetent, corny, dull, hackneyed, derivative, antiquated, repetitious to the point of mere clones inspired no doubt from ‘inspo’ or ‘mood boards’, insipid, mawkish, trite, and particularly unoriginal and platitudinous.

Many otherwise adult photographers don’t seem to have developed their concept of creativity beyond Kindergarten level, when Miss Prissy set out finger-paints and gasped: “Today we are all going to be creative, kiddies!” And this naive immaturity, without any of the innate charm implicit in the ‘creations’ of the infant, shows:- oh so painfully! Obvious to everyone, except of course their legions of Facebook followers, who never hesitate to ‘Like’!

And it would seem that, in true Orwellian irony, that those who try the hardest to convince all and sundry, especially themselves, how creative they are – a social media pastime which has reached the participation level of an international sport – the more devoid of any kind of creativity is their output.

There is even what seems to be a highly vocal movement (certainly locally, but apparently internationally) who only refer to themselves, and their recognised fellow elite, as “Creatives” – their ‘work’ however, suggests quite the opposite!

So what is this “Creativity” actually all about, what does it mean to be ‘creative’, and what kind of practices does it entail.

In other words: Are you, and indeed I creative, doing any kind of creative work, or are we just kidding ourselves?

A consensus of respected dictionaries, both real world and online, would have it that:

Creativity is perhaps best described as a combination of inventiveness, imagination, inspiration, and perception.

Therefore let us have a look at the generally accepted meanings of each of those parts, as well as the word ‘Creative’ itself:



  • relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.

  • having the quality of something created rather than imitated

  • resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.

  • to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.

  • to evolve from one’s own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.

And the accepted definitions of each part of the whole:


  • having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.

  • showing creativity or original thought.

  • apt at inventing, devising, or contriving.

  • apt at creating with the imagination.

  • pertaining to, involving, or showing invention.

  • a new, useful process, machine, improvement, etc., that did not exist previously and that is recognised as the product of some unique intuition or genius, as distinguished from ordinary mechanical skill or craftsmanship.

  • devising, or originating.

  • an act or instance of creating or producing by exercise of the imagination, especially in art, music, etc.


  • the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

  • the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality

  • ability to confront and deal with a problem

  • the thinking or active mind

  • a creation of the mind;

  • the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.

  • the action or process of forming such images or concepts.

  • the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery.

  • the product of imagining; a conception or mental creation, often a baseless or fanciful one.

  • ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness:

  • a job that requires imagination.

  • the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images (reproductive imagination) or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images directed at a specific goal or aiding in the solution of problems (creative imagination)


  • the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

  • the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

  • the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

  • an inspiring or animating action or influence:

  • something inspired, as an idea.

  • a result of inspired activity.

  • a thing or person that inspires.

  • divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

  • the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.


  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

  • awareness of something through the senses

  • the neuro-physiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli

  • the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.

  • awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation

  • physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience

  • quick, acute, and intuitive cognition

  • a capacity for comprehension

  • the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

  • immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment:

  • an artist of rare perception.

  • the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving

So if you accept the definitions above, and there is really no reason to dismiss them, several criteria would need to be taken into consideration, before a work can be legitimately called ‘creative’:

  1. Imagination

  2. Originality, evolving from one’s own thought

  3. Created not imitated

  4. Newness, the result of unique intuition or genius, based on knowledge, experience, resourcefulness, skills, and craftsmanship

Apply these definitions to your own work, and decide how it measures up in the ‘creativity’ stakes.

Part Two of this BlogState of the Art, coming next, will show by example the myriad of simple, rookie mistakes and common problems witnessed in so many photographs posted on the internet on a daily basis, and claiming to be ‘awesome captures’, ‘superb shots’, and even ‘art’, which have so many seasoned and experienced photographers tearing their hair in frustration, and lamenting the current level of corruption and possible demise of ‘creativity’.

Part Three of this BlogThe Artist: Diamond amid the Sewage, coming soon”, will explore the photographer as ‘Artist’, and whether ‘Creativity’ is enough to proclaim a specific photograph, or body of photographic images as ‘Art’


©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see and

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:

Visit my website

Visit my facebook page