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It’s the cracks that let the light in.

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I shot this photograph 20 years ago on Rockey Street in Johannesburg. It’s an important photograph for me because
it represents my philosophy on creativity.

Creativity is a very strange process. It involves having a vision that you completely believe in and would defend to the hilt. It also involves having the ability to throw your vision away because during the process you saw something better. I think the expression is strong beliefs lightly held.

The photograph is 90% the way I planned it. As I was shooting the photograph I could see out of the corner of my eye a woman standing in the background. She was a maid that worked in one of the homes in the suburb. She was amused by the fashion shoot.
She thought the model was funny. I could have cropped her out but I didn’t. This was 1994 the year of the first democratic election in
South Africa. The photograph says so much about the country at the time. Old versus new, identity, change, South Africa meeting the world. It’s a photograph that hangs in my house and each year I like it a bit more.

If I had photographed this the way I had planned it would have just been a nice picture. Nothing more. Instead, I captured a small moment in South Africa’s history. What that day taught me was the power of being aware in the creative process. It taught me there is no such thing as a mistake.

Creativity is not a thing, it’s a way. That means creativity is not an answer, it is a process. Many don’t like the uncertainty of that statement. They try and mitigate against it. The reality is if you want to do something truly great you have to believe with your heart you are right. And accept there might be a much better way than your idea. And you have to try and do this at the same time. Tricky.

Never believe you have everything figured out. Never call something a mistake. Always look for the cracks. They let the light in.

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7 thoughts on “It’s the cracks that let the light in.

  1. Brad Lee says:

    Dynamic Photograph! As Henri Cartier-Bresson famously titled his book “The Decisive Moment” this is what we strive to capture in a GREAT photograph.

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