The creative audience group I have participated in over the past year has been nothing short of a wonderful, invaluable, and enriching experience. It has generated an expansion of how I experience and sense the world around me through photography.
Eight years ago I was extremely fortunate to be invited to study with a small group of thirty aspiring photographers from around the world in a one-year Fine Art Photography Program held in a museum in Manhattan. The experience was exciting, enriching, and rewarding. Part of the process included weekly critiques where we shared or “critiqued” fellow artists’ photographs. It involved constructive criticism, opinions, and descriptions of elements we saw in the imagery, both metaphorically and literally. We explained our worlds with ideas only, not feelings or experiences. The way we saw and interpreted images was based on what we knew. Yet I came away with a body of work and a more complete understanding of who I was and why I chose my imagery, and at the time, this process seemed complete.

Taking the Zen of Creativity workshop seven years later deconstructed and reconstructed both my process of photographing and my way of experiencing imagery by moving beyond seeing.

I had always known that I photograph imagery that resonates with me, and trusting this process has always rewarded me with a satisfying end product. What I didn’t know was that I could place myself in a space of trust and go out and find subjects that would call me, resonate and become fully engaged with me. I could now photograph anywhere at any time. How magical and wonderful!

For creative feedback, I stopped trying to see objects and allowed myself to be fully present and experience the imagery through my feelings. By setting aside the judgmental process so ingrained in my being, in my mind, I was able to enter the image, becoming part of it. Colors and sounds flowed through me. Intuition often guided me to a place within my photography partner’s being that could only be accessed through the creative process. This expansion of being allowed me to give and share feedback completely and honestly. I was no longer limited by composition only.

To this end, I am honored to have been guided to the Zen of Creativity workshop and eternally grateful to have the opportunity to share my work with all the members who have continued with the creative audience group. It has been and continues to be an enriching, expansive, and deeply rewarding experience.

Susan Williams is a fine art photographer and chemist who combines both of these skills while working as a marketing manager of scientific digital cameras at Olympus.

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