More or less?

A few weeks ago I noticed that I was becoming less and less creative. I did not want to get out anymore to make pictures, did not want to work on my book ideas, no interest in reading and learning…that was really bad.

So I did what I always do – I analysed the situation and tried to find a solution. I quickly noticed that while there was plenty of advice on how to develop new ideas to stimulate your creativity there was basically nothing for my problem.

My problem was that

  • I had too many ideas and was constantly adding more…
  • I started various projects but finished none…
  • I stood in front of my slightly larger collection of cameras and lenses, but instead of picking one and going out to make pictures I was like the rabbit in front of the snake, completely paralysed and unable to choose…
  • I looked through my photography & art books but only got more confused as more inspiration created even more ideas and more need for additional equipment that was then lying around again as I already had way too much…
  • I did not dare to go into my little studio anymore as there were too many things lying around, waiting to be used…
  • I spent and to be honest wasted my time on the internet, hiding from decisions as I was afraid that it would be the wrong ones

I had lost focus – BIG TIME! But how was I supposed to get it back?

The solution came from an unexpected side when I sorted my wardrobe for the autumn/winter season. I had read some interesting articles about capsule and 10-piece-wardrobes and loved the idea.
Once I was finished with my wardrobe I decided I would try something similar with my books.
Perfect choice! – I actually found a book I had downloaded on my Kindle a long time ago but which I had completely forgotten about (talking of too many choices :-D)
– The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying  by Marie Kondo.

I read the book in 2 days and over the next few weeks I decluttered and tidied and most of all learned more about myself.
The charity shops in the little town closest to us will probably remember me for a while and maybe you have also seen my “donate-away” on Twitter :-).
I even went a step further than the method suggests but I knew that for me it was the right thing to do as with every book I gave away, with every camera I put up for sale I regained some focus for my creative work.

How had I not noticed that those of my pictures I love most, include a lot of space for imagination and a very specific focus to create additional mystery and magic but my life had become too cluttered and busy and predictable.

Now my life, my home, my art and my imagination are ONE (again).

I am not restricted anymore by too much choice but free to work on the ideas and with the tools I love most.
I have reduced my collection of cameras and lenses as radically as my wardrobe. Now it is simple to chose a camera, lens and film for a walk and then focus on making pictures instead of standing at home staring at the impossible choice.
It was also suddenly easy to decide on alternative darkroom printing instead of traditional silver gelatine printing and to start working on it – it might have helped that by chance, luck and maybe because it was meant to be ;-), I found a great used UV-Box, so not even the quite sun-less Danish weather can stop me now. This was also the only investment I made in additional equipment as I knew it was the right one.
For the first time in months my little creative studio looks clean again, which for me is a very good thing and I will write more about this in another blog post soon.

I now apply the same method of tidying to my time-schedule and Social Media activities. I already freed additional time for an online calligraphy course so that I can hopefully write the text in my next books by hand – without it looking horrible 😉 and I will invest even more time in learning so that I can turn my ideas into reality.

So once again what works best for me is “less is more” – less (material) choice creates more creative focus.

How about you? Is your creativity sparked by less or more? 🙂 Have you ever tried the KonMari method or any other way to declutter your life and what has been your experience? I would love to know!


  1. John on October 3, 2017 at 18:05

    Beautifully written and expressed Isabel.
    Fantastic that decluttering the physical things that surrounded you has also helped you to declutter your mind and has helped you to focus more has helped bring forth the creativity that lies within.
    I feel is is a case of Mind verses Soul.
    I feel that your art comes very much from your inner/ your soul and that inner has to feel free and uncluttered to express 🙂

  2. Louis A. Sousa on October 14, 2017 at 03:33

    I agree wholeheartedly. The same thing happens to me. I am paralyzed by too much stuff and too many ideas. I have collected lots of different cameras, it is part of my nature to explore…It is a good thing to explore but easy to get lost on the way. In this thought on a vacation I took one camera and one lens. Worked out fine, less confusion….

  3. Amman M. Saod on December 5, 2017 at 15:40

    Thank you for a really interesting post and question. There is not much clutter in my life although my output (as a Photo Artist) was getting out of hand for me to track and organize images. Right now, I’ve decided to reduce my output radically (as close to zero as possible…) I’m not sure what will happen next but I am confident it will lead to something better. So, yes,…. Less is more!

    • Isabel on December 18, 2017 at 11:08

      Hi Amman, clutter can be in many areas of our lives, it does not necessarily have to be physical. I also went through a time where I shot way too many pictures and I wanted to have them all on my website ;-). What helped me to not just reduce this but also in my eyes significantly improve the quality of my output was when I moved to film. I have learned to make each frame count. So I think you are on a good path. But this is also a good reminder for me to ‘declutter’ my website again 😀
      All the best, Isabel 🙂

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