The Value of Restriction to Our Photography and Art

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by choice that we actually do nothing. There is a fix to this.
Choice is a wonderful thing, it is the freedom we crave and so many in the world do not have. Yet choice can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to creativity.

Whether we are a photographer or a digital artist, most of us are presented with so much choice. We have a range of lenses to use, and even a substantial choice of focal lengths with just one zoom lens, exposure options, processing techniques, subject matter and much more. This can be great. But if you are like me, there will be times when you are overwhelmed by this choice. Where do I go, what camera and lenses do I take, what tool will I use in Photoshop or Painter?

A way out of this dilemma is restriction. I don’t mean putting the handcuffs on, though if that makes you more creative, go for it. What I mean is to deliberately make the choice not to use all the options available to you. So pick one camera and one lens and go shoot the whole day with just that. Set one shutter speed and use that, no matter what the lighting. Or pick one process in your software and use that only for some time.

Restriction shifts your thinking into problem solving mode, forcing you to try things you might never have chosen to do before. It forces you to accept compromises you might not like, or to find a way around them. In fact the very restriction liberates your creativity. I will often put a short range zoom or single focal length lens on one camera and go out shooting for the day. Or I’ll apply one Photoshop technique to all the images I process in a day or week, to see where it takes me.

See for yourself if restriction sets you free.

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