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Valery Satterwhite : Creative Mastery: Let Go of Technique & Trust Intuition

Creative Mastery: How To Let Go of Technique & Trust Intuition

By Valery Satterwhite

Creative Mastery comes from within. It flows through those inspired 'in the zone' moments of pure creative expression. All intuitive cylinders are firing at peak potential. You've had those moments. Perhaps not often, but you've experienced the magical talent you have within you. There is no greater joy than expressing your full creative potential, your unique talent and passion as a creative being.

How do you get to those inspired moments? How can you spend more time in, rather than out of, your zone of creative mastery?

Many people think the road to creative genius is paved with mastery of technique. They attend class after class, study book after book, practice their craft until they can't see straight anymore. In their work, their focus is completely on the what and how of the piece. And that's exactly what is preventing, pushing away the zone of pure unbridled creative expression.

I attended a presentation given by a well-known and respected photographer, a several times published Nikon Legend. As soon as the microphone was open for questions from the audience several hands shot up in the air. Each and every question centered on technique and tools. There were questions about digital versus film, lighting, lenses, working with kids, animals and various weather conditions. Seemingly every technique and tool was questioned.

After nearly an hour of Q&A, the photographer paused and sat on a table in front of the audience. What he said next was the most profound piece of guidance each audience member, each aspiring Nikon Legend, took home that night. The lesson was this:

"Technique and equipment have little to do with creative mastery. Technique and equipment do not create the magical shot. The photographer does. Creative mastery comes from within. It comes from trust in your self. It comes from being present, open and available for whatever comes next. It comes from automatically acting upon intuition.

"You know how to walk, talk, write, tie your shoes and drive your car. You don't think about how you do those things, you just do them. Masterfully. You get up in the morning and trust that you will be easily able to tap into those skills without having to think about it to get to the kitchen, carry a conversation, and get to your destination. It's the same thing with photography or whatever creative endeavor you pursue.

"Yes, just as you learned how to construct a sentence you learned your craft. To become a master at creatively expressing yourself through your art all you have to do is show up and by ready. You must trust that you can tap into the technique and choose the right tool when the moment arrives. Unless I'm on an advertising assignment, when I'm shooting I let go of what I think the shot must look like. I let go of how I have to get the shot. I just show up with whatever equipment I happen to have with me at the time. I have no expectations. I just observe. I observe through the camera and let intuition, trust in my own inner guidance, to take over. I begin shooting letting the process take me where it will and the moment of magic arrives, without exception. All of a sudden I will see something masterful in my frame and I just 'click'. The days when I don't come home with 'the shot' are the days when I let myself, my focus on technique and equipment, get in the way."

The audience was stunned for a few seconds and then broke into applause. I just smiled. I knew what this photographer was true from my own magical moments of creative mastery and from knowing this photographer so well. I knew, with certainty, that intuition was his creative process. How did I know? He is my husband, photographer Al Satterwhite.

"In a way, we are magicians
We are alchemists, sorcerers and wizards.
We are a very strange bunch.
But there is great fun in being a wizard."

— Billy Joel

© 2009 Valery Satterwhite. All Rights Reserved.

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7/8/09