Creative Identity & Boundaries


Creative Identity … what is it and what does it mean to you? 

I consider everything I do with photography and how I do it, all added together to be my Creative Identity. I’ve been working on it seriously as my fine art medium since 2000 and the darkroom. Early years were spent experimenting to come full-circle narrowing subjects down to only what I love. My Creative Identity includes the equipment I use, how I use it, and my processing techniques … to my fine art framed pieces, exhibit history and presence on the web. Exploration, what inspires me and how I capture what I discover are all part of the process. My website, online store and blog reveal who I am as a photographer too. And thinking about it I believe this blog says the most about my Creative Identity. The way I put images together in mini collections, use of clever titles, and my style of writing expose my passion, methods, and personal viewpoints. I believe it is something we develop naturally with time, introspection and work. I have been thinking a lot about Creative Identity lately and I am interested in hearing your thoughts!


And because I’ve also been thinking about how boundaries relate to Creative Identity I’ve decided to pair this post accordingly. Here is a small collection of images that includes fences. Fences can be an obstacle to vantage points but there are some great old weathered ones here in Colorado. I am often looking for ways to include them in my compositions.

A fence adds a little foreground to the distant mountains bathed in pre-sunset light.

‘Mountain Boundary’ © Denise Bush

Low clouds and late day light combine to create a peacefull winter scene.

‘Clouds On A Hill’ © Denise Bush

A fence, buried in the snow acts as a nice accent to this winter scene.

‘Fenced Mountain’ © Denise Bush

Two days before the full moon, this almost full moon rises much earlier, well before sunset.

‘Lunar Prelude’ © Denise Bush

Fog rises from the valley near some hot springs after an overnight snow storm.

‘Above The Fog’ © Denise Bush

A fence with San Juan Mountain character makes a great background for Mears Peak near Ridgway.

‘Ranch Boundary’ © Denise Bush
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49 Responses to “Creative Identity & Boundaries”

  1. 1 Deb

    “Ranch Boundary” = WOW! My absolute favorite, just stunning.
    I always look forward to your stories, titles, but most important how you capture what you see.

  2. So in this group of photographs the fences didn’t fence you in at all. In “Ranch Boundary” the fence is at least as much a part of the image as the mountains and clouds, and it works quite well. In the three photographs before that, I’d have been tempted to crop just above the fence to make the picture purely natural—and in the case of the two with a horizontal orientation, panoramic. I scrolled each photo down to the bottom of my screen just far enough to make the fence disappear so I could see the result. Could you have walked up to each of those fences to shoot over them?

    • I walk up to and shoot over and through fences all the time Steve. Here I wanted to include the fence as a compositional and design element. The fences add a layer or foreground element to the scene making them more unique. I feel without them the images would be less interesting and be just another mountain picture!

  3. Hi Denise. I’m not sure if included in your words, “My Creative Identity includes the equipment I use and how I use it” is post processing. One of the things that describes our creative identity is what we do with the image when we take it out of the camera and process it with software. As you know, there are many creative choices, where to crop, how much color, blending, and so many more. You have a style where the choices you make usually fit your creative identity, and maybe do not fit the choices others would have made. My two cents since you asked for thoughts on the subject. On the other subject, love how you chose to include the fences and make them an integral part of the image.

    • Yes that too! Good point! I think I will edit to include that … thanks! I like to keep my final look consistent. Others like to mix it up and that’s OK too.

  4. 7 eajackson

    Ranch Boundary gave me chills. Good chills. I still hear the camera club judges saying “nice photo but the fence keeps you from going through the image” or some nonsense along those lines. These fences add so much interest and definition to the photo.

    • Thank you for endorsing my thinking Beth! Another dumb camera club judge canned comment IMHO. The fences are a reality of the landscape around here and I have plenty of mountain scenes without them too. XO

  5. Nice series, Denise. You do have a wonderfully distinctive style, which I enjoy every time you post. Your landscapes depict the honest and elevated beauty of the mountainous area in which you live.
    Favorites today are ‘Ranch Boundary’ and ‘Lunar Prelude.’

    • Thanks very much Eliza. Lunar Prelude was captured 2 nights before the full moon. I like to shoot the moon when there is still some light on the landscape.

  6. Denise, another ‘Home Run”. Fences do create boundaries-sometimes negative, and sometimes positive as shown in your images. I thoroughly enjoy your photographs and appreciate your commentary !

  7. Nice thematic collection. I was also quite taken by your opening paragraph. Well said.

    • Thanks so much for visiting, reading and commenting. I’m glad my post made sense to you … you get me! How are you feeling?

  8. Creative identity is closely related to what is often described as the artist’s voice. Or maybe the same. The voice is certainly not something you sit down and develop. It comes naturally with the work and experience. We can choose certain equipment over other or process in one way or another, but in the end it’s really about how we see the world as photographers (or artists in general). I love this series and the way you make them connect by proxy of fences.

  9. This is a great selection and series, Denise! I love Ranch Boundry and Lunar Prelude.

    • Thanks Deborah. I can tell ‘Ranch Boundary’ will be most favorited! Eliza liked ‘Lunar Prelude’ too … shot 2 days before the full moon.

      • The fence is so unique, and I like shooting the full moon a day or two before it’s really a full moon too if the moon will be rising well after dark on its full moon night.

  10. A beautiful collection of landscapes. You live in a very beautiful area. Do you have a drone as well?
    PS A little disappointed there’s no photo entitled, “Don’t fence me in”, but that can be for another time. 🙂

    • 🙂 No I don’t have a drone. I would probably crash it first time out! There is a guy here who does excellent drone photography of the area. I will keep that title in mind! Thanks for stopping by Lignum!

  11. I do love your strong creative identity. I always smile when one of your posts shows up in my reader feed. Another thing many of your fences add is another layer of texture. I can’t pick a favorite from this collection. They are like children, each with their own unique beauty.

    • Thank you very much Linda. Hope all is well in your world! It is quiet here. 🙂

      • My life is good. But the quiet time of lockdown has passed. It feels like Boise is back to normal, with sirens, motorcycles, cars, fireworks, and now, protests, complete with the accidental firing of a handgun. People.

  12. Beautiful, Denise. Just always amazing. Boundaries are essential in all of life… creative or otherwise. Often we think a boundary, or a fence, is something that is restrictive, and it can be, but only if our perspective is taking instead of giving. I must know my limits, where my fences are, if I am going to love well, live well, and, thrive as a creative.

  13. P.S. I so want to climb those mountains!

  14. 31 Amy

    The fences are beautifully captured and included in these magnificent landscape of Colorado. Great shots!

  15. This is a great collection of images, and I always enjoy hearing about other photographers’ and artists’ ideas about the meaning of their work. For me, blogging is also a key part of my creative identity but I tend to think of my creative identity as a thread running through everything I do. When I’m in a position where it becomes difficult to add creativity to a task (such as in certain jobs) then I really suffer. It’s an all-day, everyday kind of process. My mother used to admonish me to form good habits, like brushing your teeth the same way every day. I understand that value of that, but I always wanted to do it differently every time. I can’t imagine a creative identity separate from any other identity.
    ‘Clouds on a Hill’ is exciting – what a scene! ‘Lunar Prelude’ and ‘Above the Fog’ are beautiful, too. The last image has a visceral sense of place.

    • Thanks very much for your very thorough review Lynn! Whatever the approach … liking to keep work consistent or changing it up contributes to one’s creative identity or as Otto (above) calls it the artist’s voice.

  16. You have done a brilliant job incorporating fences into your shots. All of them are beautiful, but the last one “Ranch Boundary” is stunning. The fence alone is worth an entire photoshoot….love the beauty of it!! Having said that, the way you framed the fence with the mountain and clouds as a backdrop…..incredible. Breathtaking!!! You are so gifted Denise!!

    • Thanks so much for your very kind review Kirt. You are not alone … ‘Ranch Boundary’ is the crowd favorite and probably mine too. Thank goodness I can still go out and shoot during this time of distancing. Till next time … take care!

  17. Your last Ranch Boundary is stunning, Denise! I’ve always had an interest with fences in a photo, even with birds. 🙂

  18. Absolutely stunning collection of fences! I like what you said about your Creative Identity – I feel a bit of that too b/c everywhere I go I am aware of visual composition and so glad to have my cell phone handy to record things. One of my favourite subjects are just “weeds” – growing randomly through sidewalks and fences – I’m thinking of doing a post each week called “Wednesday Weeds” haha!

    • 😀 I think my husband gets tired of hearing me look at everything as a photo when we are out! Your weeds idea sounds like a great self project. Thanks for visiting and letting me know your thoughts!

  19. Ordinarily I find the first photograph a person posts in a collection to be what they consider the highlight and that may have been the case but I am wowed by the last one. I feel as though I am right up to the fence looking out over the trees as my gaze projects toward the mountains. I’m a sucker for full/almost full moons too.
    I’ve never been able to home in on any sort of identity with my photography. I know that others see a style i what I do but I honestly don’t do anything in that regard conciously. I envy those of you who are able to articulate what moves them and how they are able to translate that into their work.

    • Hi Steve. Ordinarily I position my favorite first but decided to keep it as a surprise ending here. The first is probably my 2nd favorite … I’m into silhouettes lately and like the pink clouds. When out shooting my approach is mostly intuitive too … but what I do outside of that is deliberate and thought out. I caution mentees to avoid comparison because no one approach and philosophy fits all. Thanks so much for your visit and thoughts!

  20. Your inclusion of fences and what look like uninhabited landscapes beyond feels eerily prescient in these days for so many reasons. I love how the fences in “Clouds on a Hill” almost look like a path to follow towards the sky.

    • Yes … both boundaries and uninhabited landscapes can relate to what’s going on with the world pandemic. I love it when viewers can relate to posted images in different ways. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  21. I think anyone who posts for a while can’t help but present their creative identity, regardless of whether it’s photography, writing style, philosophy, or favorite breakfast foods. Maybe it’s simpler to call it, personality.

    That’s quite the fence in that last shot. Picturesque, nicely aged, and someone clearly put some effort into building it.

    • Thanks for stopping by Dave. I would agree that personality is part of it as well as the choices one makes and how those choices are expressed. For me, art is all about self-expression.

  22. Beautiful fence in “Ranch Boundary”. Lots of substance to the wood and seems more like a real boundary unlike the barbed wire ones. Was it around a homestead?

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