Squeezing in creative time
And an ode to my favourite camera - the Ricoh GR
Hope you are well. It’s been a while since I posted a Parent Brain (PB) newsletter - and in that time I’ve pivoted what PB is, several times.
I actually wrote in my journal a question for my brain to work on in the background - “what does parent brain want to be?”
In this newsletter:
A quick solo waffle about what this newsletter will be and why
Photo Essay - squeezing creative time in
And, after a few days those clever folk in my brain came back to me with an answer.
PB is a creative space to explore how to be a creative soul trapped in a corporate role.
And I use the word “trapped” carefully there - because I could escape (I’m not literally trapped), but being a parent brings with it many responsibilities (mortgages, university fees, etc), which means we often have to engage in work that doesn’t always feed our soul, but it feeds our kids.
As such, I’ve come to terms with my natural desire to create being something I must find energy, attention, time and space for, around my other commitments.
As much as I would love to build a business from my creative pursuits, I know how hard that will be, so for now, I must squeeze in creative work when I can, whilst never letting go of that dream.
And that’s what this newsletter will be about: a personal space to share my creative process, how I find time to create, some of the things I create and also share ideas on how to keep hold of your creative dreams, whilst working in a business that may not be the most creative of places.
This newsletter is a place to share what’s on my mind as I hold on to my creative goals as a “creative soul in a corporate role”.
Expect photo essays, behind the scenes, audio, video and more. It’s a kind of personal creative alternative to my main business outlet Cultivated Management. I do hope you are inspired, interested and enjoy what I share here.
Squeezing Creative Time In
I have, at any time, around 5-10 creative projects on the go.
Many would say that I should focus on just one - and I know deep inside that I should - but my mind needs variety. I score highly on ADHD tests but have no formal diagnosis, so I’ve learned (I am 45!) to deal with how my brain works - and it works best when I’m juggling several creative projects at the same time.
There are podcasts, YouTube videos, posters, art, personal knowledge management art, books - and of course, photography.
Photography is the easiest of my projects to squeeze in between work, family life and my naturally fluctuating mood.
The best camera is the one you have with you
You’ve likely heard the saying that the best camera is the one you have with you when you need to take a photo.
That’s exactly why I pretty much carry my Ricoh GR (aff link to Ricoh GR3 - they don’t sell the one I have anymore - but the mk3 is, by all accounts, staggeringly good) with me everywhere.
— Out and about in Winchester
If I don’t have the Ricoh camera with me, I have my iPhone. And if I’m doing a proper photography outing, or shooting video (the Ricoh is terrible at video), I will take my wonderful, albeit very large and heavy, Sony RX10 IV.
I don’t often have time for full-on dedicated photo walks or projects, so I utilise my Ricoh most - and it’s a wonderful camera. Sharp images, wonderful tone, no zoom (so I have to walk to zoom) and very wide at 28mm.
I’m no camera geek and don’t care too much about the tech specs, but I do care about how easy a camera is to use and how minimalist I can be with my gear.
Every time I visit the London office I take the Ricoh and squeeze in some photography by walking to the head office from Waterloo, or getting off the Tube a stop earlier depending on which London office I am in.
— The Shard, London - snapped on my morning commute
I snap and snap and 99% of the photos are garbage, but that doesn’t matter - I am enjoying it. I am squeezing in some creativity.
The Ricoh camera itself is small, discreet, has a long battery and can be operated with one hand. It fits into my trouser or coat pocket easily and is a joy to use. The Ricoh GR is popular amongst street photographers but I use it for all types of photography.
One of my all time favourite photographs at Farley, Winchester, was snapped on the GR.
— Farley Church, Winchester
The camera forms part of my Every Day Carry and it goes with me on every business trip (and holiday) for the single reason: of squeezing in some creative activity when I can.
I’m not a professional photographer and don’t have the skills to ever become one, hence I squeeze in hobby photography when I can. I enjoy taking photos, I use them in videos and on blog posts, and share them to IG.
And having a camera with me at all times means I can squeeze in some creative work, even on the commute to work.
— Wroclaw, Poland - snapped on a business trip
I have a small carry bag that I use to carry my art supplies, notebooks, laptop and, yes, my camera, between my house and my office studio. This means the Ricoh is with me when inspiration strikes - maybe that’s a quick snap of the boys playing, or some flowers in the garden, or a product I want to share on IG.
The power of using the iPhone is in the simplicity of the processing of photos. I snap, I edit in snapseed and I share. They are all backed up into Dropbox. It’s easy. The Ricoh is a bit more involved. It doesn’t have wi-fi so I use an Ey-Fi SD card and connect to my phone. After this, it’s the same snapseed > social process.
Getting photos off the Ricoh is a little more involved so I sometimes take the path of least resistance and simply use the iPhone. But I know the quality of photo won’t be as good - and I know I’m missing out on using and learning how to take better photos with my Ricoh.
When I travel to conferences I often shoot videos for my channel so I typically take either my Sony RX10 or Sony ZV1, as well as the Ricoh.
When I’m not filming I like to pocket the Ricoh and snap away. It’s just so damn small and easy and powerful.
— Maastricht, Netherlands - shot on my way to deliver a talk!
And that’s the key to squeezing in creative activity between my daily schedule - I need to remove as many barriers as possible. I need to make it simple, easy and enjoyable.
Squeezing in creative time, like for photography, means I need to force my environment by removing as many barriers as possible. And for me, that’s using a camera like the Ricoh. It’s simple to use, easy to carry and always with me.
To find time for creative pursuits, I need to make it as simple and easy as possible to get started. It’s why I have my cameras set up ready to film, the Ricoh with me to shoot, notebooks with me to draw and sketch, and my room set up to remove as many barriers to starting as possible.
This way I don’t have excuses and I can quickly squeeze in work on creative projects when I have gaps.
How do you find time for creativity in your life?
— Birmingham, UK - snapped in a hotel car park
Next week I’ll share behind the scenes of how I’ve been creating my latest book, Take a day off, and accompanying posters.
I’ve had to learn (and buy) a software package called Affinity Publisher and it’s been tough at times, but overcoming problems and learning how to do art is all part of the joy. There’s a happiness that spawns from learning how to turn what you imagined into something real.
Until next time.