Cultivating Creativity

It seems ironic, sitting here, planning to write about creativity; and yet, the page is still blank. My mind is running through the distractions of all that this day wants from me. Photos are currently importing from an engagement shoot this morning and there’s a pile of papers on my desk that still need to be mailed in to officially get my teacher’s certificate. It’s the evidence of being invested into two professions.

From 7am to 5pm throughout the school year, I wear a briefcase. Throughout the summer and during weekends and evenings the rest of the year, I wear a camera bag. With two seemingly different jobs, I have recently begun looking for similarities; why I feel so passionate about each.

What I’ve come to realize is that each of these jobs is founded on the sole beauty of creativity. Without the presence of a creative mind, I simply would not succeed in either profession.

When I meet with clients to plan a shoot, we start with the biggest question: location. It is here that we can tell whether or not we are setting ourselves up for success. If it’s raining, do we have a back up spot? If it’s beaming sunshine, do we have the means for shade? Is the location true to who they are as a couple?

When I enter into the classroom, it’s a similar process. What is the learning environment I am creating for my students? Does it embody who these students are? Does it communicate to them that I know them and value their needs? Is it setting them up for success?

For both photography and teaching, surroundings need to be created to best complement the people who will be filling them.

To get the shoot started, I always direct the people in the photo. But if I think I can do this without having some idea of who they are, I am foolish. A pose will always look unnatural if it doesn’t fit the couple making it. They will feel like they are pretending; faking it just to get the task done. Part of placing people also includes knowing how to instruct them. Do they need me to tell them what to do with every limb they have? Or do I simply place them where I want them and then let them pose themselves?

In the same way, I cannot instruct a child without knowing who they are. What are their needs? What do they struggle with? How can I cater my language to promote a greater sense of understanding and empowerment? If I so beautifully craft an image in my head of what I want the child to be or achieve and they produce something different, is it wrong? Certainly not. That’s where the most beautiful photos have come: when I give my clients the freedom to simply show me who they are.

At the end of it all, I get to send my clients their full collection, with the hope that they will be beaming as they look through them. I desire for them to feel beautiful, to see they are loved by those around them, and to know they are worth celebrating. The only way I know that I will have a successful collection to give is when we have worked together; when they have let me get to know them, and when I have taken the time to understand them and help create something beautiful.

Or when a child completes their assignment and comes to me to hand it in—or when they see me staple their work to our display wall—I long for that moment of joy I get to see in them. It’s a joy that comes from the time they spent investing into their work, teaching me who they are, building a trust in me that I can lead them to something great, and then, together, working to create a masterpiece.

If we do not embody a spirit of creativity in our daily tasks and interactions, we are robbing those around us of the ability to express themselves in beautiful, authentic, and real ways. We are created in the image of the very Creator Himself; how could we then deny another the right to express this God-given creativity? So in all that we do, may we do it with a desire to cultivate creativity in ourselves, in others, and in what we can give to this world.

Megan Benger (Raverty, ’15) ) is a recent grad from the Education Program at TWU. She married Kelvin Benger (‘15) last July, and the two of them hope to teach internationally together, while Megan also continues to see where the Lord takes her photography business.