Creativity is an inside job

Above: Image by Gina Milicia

“An amazing thing happens when you stop seeking approval and validation: You find it. People are naturally drawn like magnets to those who know who they are and cannot be shaken!” ― Mandy Hale

Are you an innie or an outie? I’m not talking about belly buttons, I’m talking about how you create your photos.

For the record, I’m both an innie and an outie photographer. But I’m working hard to become more of an innie. So what is the difference between an innie and an outie? Let me explain.

There are two ways to create an image, the first and most common is to work from the outside in. An example of this style of photography is when a photographer is commissioned by a client to shoot an advertising campaign. The client will supply a specific brief that includes the type of location, style of lighting and editing and even the vibe of the shoot. The photographer then uses their technical skills to bring the brief to life. This image was created from the outside in because, in this instance, the photographer was asked to create an image based on someone else’s agenda.

This is how I started my professional career, photographing other people’s ideas. Then bit by bit as my confidence increased and I become more experienced I started to add my own spin to the brief by changing the lighting slightly or suggesting an alternative pose or finding a different location.

I was a working outie trying to be more of an innie.

“The majority of people regularly use their smartphone while on the toilet.” ― Autumn Rivers

Another example of a classic outie environment for photographers is social media. It’s difficult not to be influenced by likes and comments and only share images that we know will be liked. By doing this we hand our creative power over to “them”, random imaginary friends, who decide your creative direction whilst sitting on the toilet.

“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.” ― Karl Lagerfeld


“I’ll have what she’s having.” ― From the movie When Harry Met Sally

The other way that social media influences outward/in photographers is copying what is so hot right now. Everyone wants to fit in right? Unfortunately trendy soon becomes tacky and that thing that all the cool kids are doing to their images will soon become the shoulder pads of photography styles.

“An amazing thing happens when you stop seeking approval and validation: You find it. People are naturally drawn like magnets to those who know who they are and cannot be shaken!” ― Mandy Hale

The best way to stand out in a saturated market is to be unique and authentic and the best way to do this is to shoot like an innie.

An innie photographer is someone who is confident in their unique style of shooting and who creates their images from the inside out. When I first became aware of this different style of thinking, I started to notice more inward/out photographers. Their work is unique, authentic and inspiring. These are the kind of photographers we should all aspire to become.

So how do you become an innie?

I think we are all born as innies, but somehow lose the ability to trust our inner voices along the way and start seeking outside approval. A true innie doesn’t mean you become an arrogant sh*t who believes everything they touch turns to gold.

A true innie is continually learning the craft and is inspired by life. The learning never stops. Innies learn the technical side of photography so they become more confident, seek mentors who are ahead of them on the path, experiment, and make mistakes and find a unique way to tell their story.

The best way to become an inward/out photographer is to shoot personal projects. Shoot things that are meaningful to you. Nobody in the world thinks, feels or sees like you do. It’s your unique way of seeing the world that will eventually define your style.

Below is one of my favourite quote about innies. What style of photographer are you?

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Rob Siltanen


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About Gina

About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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