This is going to be a pretty raw and personal post, something that I’ve been going through the last couple of months and looking around, I’m definitely not alone in my journey. I was debating about whether to post this or not, but having benefited from others sharing their experiences, I think it is good that I share mine, who knows who it might inspire and help. It will be far from the best post I’ve ever written and there are probably far better posts on the topic, but please consider sharing it if you have creative friends, they may be going through the same thing.
For the past couple of months I’ve been looking at my photography and I’ve been bored with it, my work took a turn somewhere and in the process I lost my focus, my vision and the very essence of what drives me. It’s not that I’ve been taking bad photos, to the contrary, I think I’ve been producing some pretty decent work, I’ve just not liked any of the photos I’ve been taking… for quite some time now. It became too easy, too cliché and the same as what everyone else is shooting.
After a good couple of days of introspection, pondering and possibly even a little soul searching, it occurred to me that I had, once again, stopped taking photographs for myself. I had seen the lure of potential.. of what could be and started to chase it, disregarding my vision and drive in the process, I have strayed from my path. Instead of just exploring, connecting with the landscape and letting it speak to me, I began chasing the next thing that would go viral on Facebook and Google+, something that would get shared like crazy on twitter and somehow make me feel relevant and legitimate about my photography. When the goal changes, so does the vision and direction. No longer breaking new ground and forging a route of my own, I was following the hoards of photographers and in the process, I lost myself in the crowd.
My landscape and fine art photography has always been my escape, my refuge from the days troubles… in essence it has always been about feeding my soul and expressing my journey and experience. My art was always about what I was feeling and experiencing. A +1 ,a like or a retweet were always welcome, but never the objective. For most of my “career” I’ve not really cared what other people think of my work , it was never about them, it’s always been for me. The drive to be creative and nourish myself has always been the main thing… a very selfish and self-absorbed pastime really.
I’ve always been the one to avoid the tourist spots, the over photographed areas and to really search and find my own locations. I’ve never been one to ask another photographer where an image was taken or how it was done. I’m not interested in lining up the tripod holes, getting the exact settings and GPS co-ordinates and trying to emulate someone else’s image. Instead I go to the hidden places at strange times of day to capture images that no one else has.
Unfortunately somewhere along the line I started seeing other photographers with decent to great work… making more than just a living out of their photography (something I’m still struggling to do), some of them are making an absolute killing. They’ve had more success than I could dream of. Looking at their work and comparing it to mine, I began to wonder why I wasn’t seeing the profitability that they were. In the process my creativity took a dive off the cliff with a lead anchor. My focus had shifted from creation to profits.. not that profiting from your work is a bad thing.. indeed it helps the work be sustainable.. but it can’t be all about the profit.
In the last week of introspection and soul searching I’ve come to the realisation that I need to just stop. Take a breath, find my creativity again and let it grow. It’s high time I ventured out again, explored, discovered and captured that connection I feel with the landscape and ocean. My artwork has never been about awards, financial gain or notoriety, it’s time to go back to my roots, cut away all the baggage and just soak in the experiences. Does this mean I’m going to shut up shop and stop pursuing my commercial photography.. not at all, it’s just time I checked my goals, work out what motivates me and adjust my path accordingly.
Ansel Adams said that 12 high quality images in a year is a good year.. I don’t see how doing projects like 365 days a year is really helping you get those 12 images. Putting needless pressure on ourselves to be creative on demand just doesn’t work. Instead of producing high quality work, we start producing very mediocre work just for the sake of posting something for those +1s, likes and retweets.
I’m going on a journey.. a journey of rediscovery, I invite you to join me!
The journey of discovery, creation and the experience are all the rewards I need… although it would be nice if people paid their invoices on time too, that way I can pay mine! ;)
Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts, I’d love to hear what motivates you and drives you!