“Blue sky thinking”, meaning creative ideas that are not constrained by preconceptions.


This is the first part of a two-part series on how to come up with ideas. This is not a new line of enquiry a Google search on how to come up with ideas for art found about 1,870,000,000 results in 0.64 seconds.  The first post introduces the subject with examples of creative ideas found in art and technology circles. In any walk of life, there is always the need to find answers to questions posed by knotty problems. These questions may be huge such as how to prevent and cure cancer to a trivial irritation such as what will I have for lunch?

Asking relevant questions to generate progressive and creative ideas is the ground on which Socrates stood and incidentally why he was murdered by the Athenian state in 399BC. He was guilty as charged. His crime was “Refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state”. Socrates stood at the forefront of logical thought to debunk superstitions.


The reasons why – Introducing diversity

In this latest blog series called “how to come up with ideas” I am going to investigate a way of thinking about how as a photographic artist I can introduce diversity into my picture making with new ideas. For me, my reason to use photography is a means to share creative ideas on self-expression. Much of my vision and style is not a million miles away from the prints I last made in the darkroom in the 1980s. In the past twelve years, I have been creating digital Lith pictures with pink highlights and cool-toned shadows.


Now it’s time to investigate new or different pathways in my photographic vision. It is easy to get entrenched in a style of pictures and presentation you find unchallenging to do. But how are new or different avenues of vision found and explored? This is the subject of this series of blog posts.

The big picture – creating and refining ideas

To be able to move on from where you are now photographically there needs to be an inkling of where you want to go. At the start of the process you may not have a clue about a new direction of travel, just an inkling that things need to change. This situation is quite normal, you are not alone. As long as you have realistic expectations about the outcome and how long it might take then all is well. To be realistic about expectations means don’t expect a new idea that has never been thought of before in a flash without having done any serious work to think things through.


Also, think about the potential destinations that are definitely NOT within the scope of your thinking. From a very sketchy beginning, workable detailed ideas need to be generated over a period of time.  The Creative Pathway is about creating and refining ideas. It is a pathway or process because fully formed creative ideas do not happen in a vacuum, persistence and hard work are part of the game. To illustrate the way the brain generates ideas of any quality I have taken two examples Thomas Edison an inventor, Pablo Picasso an artist. You will note their stories have striking similarities.

Picasso’s big reveal 

Soul Mates

Thomas Edison took very many attempts at making a commercially viable electric light bulb, even after he had borrowed the basic principles from eight other researchers working over a 70-year period before him.  British Physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan patented a workable light bulb in February 1879 after beginning work on the problem in 1850. Swan also had many failures along the way but most importantly he had a hunger to keep going. Edison’s major contribution to the development of electric light was the durability of the incandescent bulb which progressed from 13 hours in 1879 to 600 hours in 1880. Edison was a master of refining the ideas and research of others while adding his own inventive thoughts to the problem.

Taking another example, the Spaniard Pablo Picasso did not become a fully formed Cubist painter in an afternoon he had realistic expectations. After a very successful Paris exhibition in 1901 featuring the copied elements of styles from then “unsuccessful” artists such as Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas and Gauguin. Picasso had a spell of depression following the suicide of a friend. After a period of new influences, this inspired his blue period beginning in late 1901 when he painted a cool-toned “Seated Harlequin”. New stimulus and motivation helped Picasso to find the artistic direction and well-being he was seeking.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”

Pablo Picasso

After a series of random influences and new friendships made in Paris, Picasso developed his Cubism ideas from 1907 onwards. For Picasso, the route from a merely competent painter to an accomplished master was through a long and circuitous route over a decade of hard work. The basis of Picasso’s progress was on copying and stealing ideas from other painters but crucially adding his own ideas at the same time. Without adding his own innovative ideas Picasso would have simply been plagiarizing the work of others.

“It’s not where you take things from, but where you take them to”

Jean-Luc Godard – Film Director

A Philoshoper, Technocrat and Artist went in to a bar… 

Sorry there is no great ending to the headline. How do the examples of Socrates a philosopher, Edison a technocrat and Picasso an artist apply to the progress of photographers in the 21st century? What are the common characteristics and ways of thinking found in what would appear to completely different disciplines? I mentioned earlier that questions, ideas and solutions are not created in a vacuum of thought and ideas. Great ideas are not passed from heaven to earth in a flash of inspiration.


There are elements of philosophy, technology and art in photography. Socrates stood in the tradition of the Greek philosophers before him. He knew the sayings of the Milesian, Ephesian and Eleatic schools.  Picasso stole and essentially added to techniques from other progressive artists working around him. Edison sometimes brought research from others in the field he was working in to progress to a commercially workable solution or product.


Hence, we creatives function in a network with everybody else in our field of expression and those associated with it. For example, we photographers are intimately linked with other contemporary and historic photographers, digital and analogue technology and the philosophies of our time and before.


There is an idea that photography is or can be a solitary pursuit. There may be limits to self-expression where investigation and innovation are not present. We progress as expressive photographers when we learn and grow from our colleagues in the visual arts.


In Part 2 of the series

We will look at the 6 common topics that regularly pop up when looking at this subject to see how they work together to generate creative questions and ideas. The 6 common topics demonstrated by many creatives include: desire, inspiration, trial and error and new understanding.


See you next time in another interesting blog post from Andy Beel FRPS

Mobile online payments maybe back on again!

The good news is audiences will be able to buy the wisdom? in my books at camera club talks without the need to carry cash.

After my dalliance with mobile online payments a few years ago society is now much more ready to pay for most things with a contactless card. My original Pay Pal card reader has never worked properly and Paypal did not know how to fix it,

This time I am trying the Square Card Reader Contactless & Chip and PIN Device. The reader will also work with any Chip and Pin  or Contactless card, Apple and Google Pay and Contactless smartphones and watches. This comes with a big proviso – an internet connection is required to take a payment.

So let’s hope the BT Hotspots are up to scratch!

Public Toilet App

As we all get older the need to “not pass one by” increases. These few sentences have NOT been initiated by a delicate incident recently! By sheer chance, I found a mobile app which locates public toilets near by. This app could be very handy if one is caught short or have a desperate need shall we say! The app will have a postcode and may give opening times. My local public toilets were not marked on the App as I hoped, however, they have been demolished about 10 years ago after a long period of closure!


Search for Where is Public Toilet in the Google Play Store or Apple Store.


Google Maps for Public Toilets 

I then wondered if Google Maps have Public Toilets highlighted, unfortunately, the answer is no. However, the following search filters have been included – Restaurants, Hotels, Bars, Coffee, Banks, Parking, Post Offices, Fuel, Groceries and Hospitals.