The Creative Process, Be fascinated, Work hard, and Taking Things to the Next Level

Instead of being crushed by the gap, I became fascinated. I wanted to know more.

– Scott Shute

While preparing for the interview preparation of Scott Shute, I found this LinkedIn article that he had written a few years. I felt a strong desire to share it with others with the permission of Scott himself and he was kind enough to give me a green light. Scott shares his creative process in Photography. What he shares is can be applied in any creative process. I feel inclined to what he says because I have used similar principles unknowingly in my podcasting. Just know that you will suck badly at anything new. As my favorite Tony Robbins says – “Have a strong desire, Take massive action, Keep changing your strategy.”

Scott Shute sits at the intersection of ancient wisdom traditions and the business world. He currently leads Mindfulness and Compassion programs at LinkedIn. After twenty five years of customer-oriented leadership roles, he found his dream job, where he gets to utilize his entire skill set and embrace his passions. In this work he explores the possibility of human potential, helping employees become the very best version of themselves.

Scott’s new book “Full Body Yes” is coming out on May 11th, 2021. Check the details here

Quick summary:

  • Instead of being crushed by the gap, I became fascinated. I wanted to know more.
  • Instead of just taking my camera on trips, I started taking trips to use my camera.
  • In the creative process, there is both an inflow and outflow required to get to the Next Level.
  • There’s something special about a quest to a perfect that’s completely unattainable.  So here’s my goal – one that pushes me to keep expanding my creations. 
  • There’s always a Next Level.

Now, let’s get into the details and here is Scott:

It’s our nature to create. We do it every day. Sometimes we’re even excited about it. If you ask people what they’re passionate about, you’ll get incredible variety. Their new assignment at work that will increase revenue. Their new relationship. Competing to make the Lacrosse team. Learning to fly a drone. Each of these stretch us beyond yesterday’s normal, pulling us forward in a never ending learning curve. Life finds a way to continually shape us into better versions of ourselves, even when we’re not trying.

To be really great at something requires two basic things.  

  1. Be fascinated
  2. Work hard

That’s pretty much the story of every single successful person in history. This is the story of my latest creative obsession and my quest to be amazing at it.

I’ve always loved photography, but something changed over the past couple of years. With my son going to college I found that I had a little more free time and I needed a creative outlet. It was time to take it to the Next Level. I bought a new camera (Sony A7II) and committed to shooting in RAW format – that’s the uncompressed version that the professionals use. The upside is that the files can be edited much more than “normal” JPEG, extracting every drop of color and precision. The downside is that straight out of the camera they don’t look as good, so you’re committing to editing nearly every single photo. The next step was learning in depth how to edit – the post processing magic that turns ordinary into special. I’d played around with simple tools like Google’s free Picasa, but to go Next Level, I needed to learn Lightroom and Photoshop.

Using a combination of LinkedIn Learning and other content I found on the web, and *lots* of practice, I started to hone my craft. Photos that were ok turned into good. Photos that were good turned into great (at least I thought so).  I had a couple that I was really proud of. The best I’d ever taken.

I started sharing and posting on photo sites like 500px. I quickly realized that my “amazing” shot of the Golden Gate Bridge was fairly pedestrian compared to what was already out there. I was falling in love with the creative process and wanted to push to see what was possible. My work wasn’t as good as the other photographers I was following, but I was starting to figure out how they were doing it. Instead of being crushed by the gap, I became fascinated. I wanted to know more.

I started seeking out photo opportunities. Instead of just taking my camera on trips, I started taking trips to use my camera.  It’s not about being at the right place, now it’s about being at the right place at the right time with the right idea. I starting planning shots days or weeks in advance, driving an hour or two to sit in one spot at sunset, taking 200 shots in hopes of getting just one I would be proud of. Each time I’d come back with a haul, excited to start the editing process. I’ve come to find editing photos to be strangely therapeutic. Instead of watching TV, I’ll pull up shots I took two years ago and see if there’s anything new I can make happen. This is where the art comes alive. This is where the “flow” happens.

For photography (like most things), the quest for new and better is endless – there’s always a new exotic place to visit, or changing skies that make the bridge light up in a way I’ve never seen before, or a flower in my neighborhood while I walk the dog that opens up in just a certain way after it rains. I look at light and detail in a different way than ever before.

I also play music – acoustic guitar and sing. I’ve realized over the years that I can practice in my home office for months, but if I never play in front of other people, eventually my interest and energy wanes. If I play a small gig, or a backyard concert for friends, then I get fired up again. It makes me want to go learn new material or sharpen up the old stuff, refining my technique. It makes me want to keep moving down that never ending path to “better”. I get fascinated again.  Simple as it sounds, this was a huge realization – In the creative process, there is both an inflow and outflow required to get to the Next Level.

With these hard-earned realizations, I’ve tried to structure my photography obsession in a different way, to ensure the fuse stays lit. I’ll find time during business travel to dedicate to photography. (Yep, I’m keeping my day job, along with its endless opportunities for creation). And while it’s been fun to share my latest captures with friends at work, or share with everyone on Instagram (@scottshutephotos), it wasn’t quite enough motivation to keep me driving forward. There’s something special about a quest to a perfect that’s completely unattainable.  So here’s my goal – one that pushes me to keep expanding my creations. I want to keep improving my art to the point where others want to buy it – where it moves them so much that they just have to have it hanging on their wall. For a landscape photographer that’s pretty much as good as it gets. 

There’s always a Next Level.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Please note that Information shared in this post is for educational purposes only, and is not intended in any way as psychological treatment, advice or consultation of any kind. “if you are struggling with trauma and other mental health issues, please seek the treatment of a licensed mental health professional.

The Nishant Garg Show:

This show is about extracting information on Mindfulness, Personal Development, Spirituality. I am on a mission to spread Mindfulness and I’d love for you to join me in this movement. For any question, please contact me. If you have enjoyed listening to my podcasts, please subscribe to the new podcast updates on Itunes please provide your reviews on Itunes which will really help me. S

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