Yesterday I suggested some photographic exercises you might want to try and Ed added the comment that he'd heard about locking yourself in the bathroom till you could fill two rolls of film with different images. Chuck felt that since he isn't a bathroom photographer by inclination or trade, it wasn't all that great an exercise.
So the question of the day is - do we learn enough from doing exercises that don't involve our own area of interest to justify them - are the skills cross applicable?
I remember reading Fred Picker's newsletter in which one assignment was to take formal portraits inside a bus - now most of these people were large format landscape photographers (rocks and roots types) so portraits were hardly their collective 'thing'.
The utility of learning to do portraits inside a bus has to be extremely limited if it doesn't somehow generalize to other kinds of photography. Was such an exercise a waste of time?
Are there examples which we could use to settle the question?
Well, being a painter or drawer or musician certainly seems to be helpful when it comes to learning photography but whether its simply that very creative people can do both well or whether it's the learning of the one that transfers to the other I don't know.
Certainly athletes do lots of training that isn't specific to their sport - basketball players lift weights, cyclists run, etc. but fitness is a long way from photographing - or do I have to start doing pushups?
I guess the question is whether creativity can be trained at all and if so is it specific to certain subjects - ie. if you are very creative at landscapes, are you unlikely to be creative at other subjects you haven't tackled before. My gut instinct is to say that creativity is in fact trainable, that exercises to flex your creative muscles are a good idea and that in fact it does generalize. I'd go further than the bathroom exericse and say that I suspect that practicing creativity in any medium - whether coming up with catchy ads or writing limericks is probably helpful to some degree and that visual creative exercises generalize even more strongly, but I'm not aware of any proof of this.
I wonder if any psychologists amongst us know the answer to that.