I think it’s safe to say we’ve all seen it. You’re watching a photographer and they are just on fire. Their photos are amazing and you are sucked in totally inspired. And then there comes a point where you turn your head sideways and wonder what the hell happened. Okay, hmm. They must have had a bad week. Ok, they are going through a style change. Ok, they may have been drinking wine and editing. Omg I need to unfollow this photographer, this is awful.
And then you get to the point where you are wondering what the hell happened to this beloved photographer of yours. They are truly in a rut. And it’s visible from miles away.
And okay, sometimes that photographer is not exactly your best friend. Maybe even your frienemy. And sometimes you give a little snicker. Totally human. But how does this happen?
A few things happen. One. As you are finding yourself attracted to new photographer crushes you are probably working hard and you’re improving. So you’re closing the gap to begin with. Two. It is so hard to be “on” all the time. A little burnout is normal. Three. There comes a time when the choice is just to keep pushing through or quit and hide. And most of us aren’t quitters. So content gets posted even though it’s less than stellar.
There is also a little of four. That photographer truly doesn’t care anymore. They get such a following they could literally photograph poo and people would flock. Clearly this is a more rare case and I’ve never actually experienced anything like this myself. But I know it’s out there. Another variation is the photographer who worked hard and got the following early on and has been blinded by their own success, but the people stayed. And if you get a good following of good people, it doesn’t really matter what phase you’re in. Again, I can’t really relate, when I am sucking people are in “peace out” mode.
And then there are a few cases of five where the photographer really wasn’t on fire and you had your goggles on. But regardless. It happens.
I’ve watched several photographers go through this. And I’ve sat, in judgment, shaking my head saying, “damnnnn”. And now here I sit. I don’t pick up my camera. My work is so half-assed I think my 3 year old could “pray and spray” and hit more quality shots. And I’ve lost all my give a damn. It’s hot. I’m without power to half my house including my AC while we do some major electrical overhauling. I’m now without a sink from what I thought would be a few hour cabinet swap to a horror scene of mold and rotted floors that would take days to clear.
I am in the suck. And I am totally finding empathy for those that have gone before me.
And this isn’t my first rut. I’ve suffered through many ebbs and flows. And I find they tend to strike in the dead of summer because my body shuts down when it goes above 95 degrees. But this may be a more serious condition. I think this is a case of photography related IDGAF syndrome.
If you’re down and out, here is a reliable go to list of ways I try and kick the funk.
- Shut down the negativity. Too much drama or watching people who are on fire will depress me and sink me further into the hole.
- Shoot at golden hour. This is a pretty fool proof way to get at least one decent photo
- Visit pretty places, cross ones off the bucket list
- Revisit the easy go to shots.
- Throw on a macro and find some pretty gardens
- Find the light. It’s there. Even in my shit hole dark cave fixer upper sinkless house, there are still pockets of light that can be found. Window light is always friendly.
- Look for lines. It’s a great way to get the eye back into looking for composition
- Shoot film. Film makes me slow down and think. I’m a fairly frugal (read: cheap-ass) individual so I make sure those 1$ a frame shots are worth it.
- Make an inspiration list. Things I want to shoot. Things to look for.
- Try something different. Anything, take a risk. Take a shot that I almost didn’t take.
- Put down the camera and enjoy something else. Maybe it’s a good movie or a good book. Maybe it’s a new craft and getting some projects knocked out.
- Enjoy life. My family and my family’s happiness is my number one inspiration and motivator in life.
If you’re in the trenches, good luck! Here was my recent trip to the watershed to shake the funk.