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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Inspiration Block

I got a text message from a friend the other day.  It was information on a national photography competition that will be held in a local gallery.  My first thought was "oh that sounds neat" but, realistically I wasn't seriously considering it.  "Why?" you might ask. Well, I think as humans our first inclination is to take the easy way out.  To make up a million excuses as to why we can't achieve something because if we never try, we never fail and somehow we rationalize that as being a better alternative.  I think to myself "sure, a few people really like my work" but... (that word can be so evil sometimes) if a professional is judging my work they'll just pick it apart and find everything wrong with it, and maybe they'll think it's awful and maybe I should wait until I am really ready.
As the day went on the idea kept nagging at me.  I kept thinking, "how can you talk about doing what you love and then pass up something like this?"  Yes, it's a chance to fail but it's also a chance to learn.  A chance to learn about the process (I've never entered any sort of photography anything) and a chance to be creative and maybe come up with some really great pieces that I will love.
Having convinced myself that I had to try I set out to be creative and come up with some great ideas.  And then, nothing.  I mean, I seriously had idea block and could not think of a single thing that made me feel inspired to create anything at all.   I felt like my own worst enemy, maybe I was thinking to hard about what to do and so I couldn't come up with anything at all. 
After days of this (and some nights) I finally gave up.  I decided to take a different approach.  To take the experience of not having an idea and try and use that because I didn't know what else to do.  I thought about how I felt about being stuck and how I could express that through imagery.  I thought of light bulbs broken on the floor around me and darkness and then I realized that I could use that and I can't tell you how excited I was to have at least one idea for a picture I could create.  
After that the ideas kept coming, I think I just needed that one idea to help open the flood gates and get rid of whatever was in my way.  I went out and shot some locations and textures and things that I liked to help me through the process and ultimately I have created some really neat things so far that I really like.
My point is this, don't give up on something or get discouraged just because it is difficult.  No matter how far fetched it might seem sometimes it just takes a little persistence and the conscious effort to ignore that negative voice in your head that tells you not to bother.   It's okay to fail, and even if you do just try and enjoy the process of learning as you go.

Here goes nothing. A blog about my photography.

I've been practicing photography for about 2 years now.  I'm always reading and watching videos about how to be a better photographer technically as well as from a business perspective.  There is one thing that always comes up in the "how to's" of other photographers that seems to elude me...the blog.  "Create a blog" they say.  It's supposed to be a great way to drive people to your website by always having new content, and thus make your site more appealing to the search engines.  Easier said than done.
I can' t tell you how many times I've stared at that cursor.  The same thoughts going through my head,  "what do I write about" and "why would anyone want to read what I write anyway?"  There are a million and one "How to" blogs with regard to photography discussing everything from DIY backdrops to the intricacies of perfect exposure and lighting techniques.  It's been done,  so why bother?
I hate the idea of being like everyone else just for the sake of being successful.  After two years I can't think of anything to offer that hasn't been done over and over.  So, I started to think about what really drives me in my photography and not only as a photographer, but as a person.
When I began I just wanted to be a good photographer, to take technically good pictures because I knew how to work my camera.  I tried to focus on taking pictures that I thought were marketable.  Babies and kids in cute outfits on a cute backdrop with cute props and that "straight out of sears portrait studio" look because that's what I thought people wanted.  And then I got bored, and I realized I had lost sight of what I really wanted and if I lost my passion for what I was doing, what's the point? 
What I want is simple enough.  To create beautiful images.  To make something that someone (even if it is only me) will look at and love.  The hardest part as a photographer is the constant conflict between the purist and the painter.  Photography has plenty of people who think only something minimally touched by editing is real photography.  So, I struggled with trying to figure out if what I really wanted to do was really even photography.  I thought "Maybe they're right" "What if I am just a lousy photographer with Photoshop skills?"
Finally I said, Forget it.  It took me a long while to get over that way of thinking.  I realized that the part I love about me the most is the part that says, "I don't care what anyone else thinks and I don't care if I never make a single dime on my photography"  because all I really want to do is create beautiful artwork....Sometimes that might be a simple portrait that I hardly touch with editing and sometimes it may be a completely made up world (like the time my son asked my to make fireballs come out of his hands or when another wanted to fly) but whatever it is I am creating I want it to be because I am inspired and not because I am worried about what will sell.
The only thing I really know through this journey is that nothing is more important than being who you are.  And, if you do what truly makes you happy nothing else really matters.  I will write about what I am working on or what inspires me at the moment because there is always a story behind what I create and even if not a single person reads my blog, I'll be doing what I love.