How I Found My Creative Outlet (And How You Can, Too)

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When I was in high school I fell into a group of friends who were all very artsy; they were incredible singers, passionate musicians, and talented painters. I went looking for a form of creative expression for myself, and so began a really, really frustrating journey.

A lot of my friends were in theater. I was (am) way too introverted and anxious to perform on stage, so I joined the tech crew. Cleaning up the stage and building sets was definitely not my jam. Then I tried joining my singer friends in choir. The purple polyester robes were ugly and itchy, and my singing voice is mediocre at best (though I did stick it out long enough to take the yearly field trip to DC). Finally, a friend of mine brought me to New Urban Arts, an after school arts program right across the street from our school, and I fell in love with the dark room.

Maybe I didn’t have the natural talent of my friends who could draw or paint or sing. I definitely didn’t have the patience or will to put in the time in to get good at any of those things ‒ I didn’t want it that bad. But I am extremely observant. My parents and teachers have told me this since I was a kid. I notice a lot of things that most people don’t, and photography helped me show others what I saw.

I learned about both sides of photography at NUA: the artsy part where you capture the perfect moments at just the right time, work with and manipulate your light, and interpret everyday ordinary things into something special, and the technical side from f stops and shutter speed to proper darkroom procedures and chemical usage. I was putting my natural talent of being ultra attentive to work while also learning new skills that helped me express myself.

My main form of creative expression now is writing, but photography is still a hobby and will always be my first art love. Nothing beats the feeling of holding a hefty DSLR camera in my hands, hearing the shutter go off, seeing the crisp image pop up on the little screen. With writing, as with photography, I am able to translate the quiet, hidden moments I see with the rest of the world, who may have otherwise missed it. 

Finding a way to creatively express yourself might not be so obvious for you, as it was for me, but I promise it’s there. It might take some trial and error, and you might have to think beyond the typical ideas of what art or creativity actually is, but everyone has something special and beautiful inside their brain. Don’t keep that all to yourself.