Embrace Your Limitations

Igor Stravinsky was a radical.  It’s perhaps why I like him so much.

The debut of his ballet, The Rite of Spring (1913), provoked a riot and changed the way music was written forever.

In his captivating book, The Poetics of Music, he describes his terror of sitting down to compose a new piece and realizing that everything and nothing is possible.  With so many possibilities he is overwhelmed and can’t possibly create anything at all.  It is only upon establishing a key, a time signature, a frame work, and setting up a list of limitations that the creativity begins to flow freely.

In summary, it is only when he inflicts limitations upon himself that his creativity has room to grow.

“The more art is controlled, limited, worked over, the more it is free.” –Igor Stravinsky

One of the great lessons of creativity: It grows in limitation.

Yet how often, do we lament our limitations as burdens to growth rather than the very conditions we need to promote it?

I don’t have a enough money!

I don’t have a nice enough camera!

I don’t have enough training!

The weather here has been horrible!

I don’t have enough business!

I don’t have enough originality?

I don’t have the right looking subjects, the best locations, the right light, the right time of day…

I don’t have enough time.

I don’t… I can’t… etc. etc.


Humanitarian Photographer, David Du Chemin said,

“The more you see constraints as a catalyst to creativity and not a problem to be overcome, the more creative you will become.”

Famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright:

“Man built most nobly when limitations were at their greatest.” 

What sort of ideas, projects, progress, and creations could we claim by changing the way we view our limitations?

I had the pleasure of speaking with a fabulous photographer (and past student of mine) a few weeks ago whose work has made a drastic improvement this past year.  I asked her what she had been up to and was absolutely fascinated by her response.  She admitted that she limited herself to 60 shots in her sessions.  That was it.  Imagine what that type of limitation would do… it makes you more conscious of your composition, your exposures, your perspectives, your interaction… the results have been fantastic.

Its inspired me to set up some limitations.  Its amazing what creative ideas have followed.

Want to be more creative?  Identify your limitations or set some in place.

How have your limitations provided the environment for growth?

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. One of her current limitations is time.  How in the world do you do run a business, teach classes, keep order at home when you only have 1-2 hours a day to actually sit down uninterrupted?  Creativity folks.  Creativity.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons , online photography classes, as well as seasonal photography classes in Logan, Utah.

Like this? Share it!

7 Responses

  1. Love this. I’ve been thinking about it today, and it has inspired me to use my time better (since time is the ULTIMATE limitation). Thanks, as always, for the inspiration 🙂

  2. Brooke – I just found your blog and I love to read your ideas, suggestions, everything. I have spent the morning being inspired. Thank you.

  3. That is really awesome. I definitely do better with the challenge of limitations. It’s much more rewarding, too. I LOVE your blog, Brooke! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *