With my Tattoo Series on hold until I get more people to pose, a post about about something different, with a very different idea in mind. Last summer, I had a major creative block. Like most amateur gear heads, I searched for the latest and greatest lens, looked into getting a camera upgrade, etc. Sat on all of these thoughts for a while, until the creative block became the norm, as opposed to it being the exception. I read a lot for inspiration - a lot of them were helpful, but many were just saying the same things over and over again, stuff that I already knew.
Then one day I decided to go through my archives of all my old pictures and I happened to catch a bunch of pictures taken in 1999. I was shocked with some of results - not with the ones that were really bad, but the ones that were actually somewhat good - and at the shockingly large number of pictures I took. I took myself back to that summer in 1999 and I realized that back then, I concentrated a LOT less on cameras, and photography as a 'thing', but concentrated more on the subject, and more on the moment itself. Since 1999, the rapidly technological advancement of digital cameras just bombarded us with more and more superior models, and the geek side of me embraced this wholeheartedly. But the thing I kept forgetting is that even the best gear in the world requires one thing from you - framing the picture - the most basic element of making a photograph. The better you do this, the awesome technology available today will most likely help you along. It's so easy to get distracted by the technology and the coolness factor, that one may forget why they are taking the picture, or what they are taking the picture of.
So having said all of this, I made a hypocritical choice to get over my creative block - I got another camera - but there is method to my madness - the reason I got it was because it takes me back to the days when I used to take pictures only with a Yashica GX rangefinder, and the process that I used to go through. It's a nice medium format TLR film camera, made by Rolleiflex - fully manual. Not only is it a humbling experience to not be able see instance results and have no automatic features to rely on, but it's also a major joy when you look at the focusing screen and you get the shot you want. I find it helps me think much more about what I'm shooting, rather than how I'm shooting it (thats important, too - but its secondary, in my opinion, to the emotional factor). One of the results is what you see above - two artists discussing subjects in Southold, NY.
So what did I learn from all this? Everybody gets creative blocks at some point, and I'm sure they have their own process for getting out of them. Not all of them work for everybody, and maybe mine won't help - but maybe it will - here's my list (IMHO):
- Shoot - a LOT - everyday if possible.
- Shoot some more.
- Have a project in mind (It can really be absolutely anything)- it gives direction, and helps identify subjects very quickly, so you can concentrate on making the picture.
- If you are a gear head, go rejoice in it - absolutely drool over the quality of the video in 5d mark II - but get over it fast, so you can do what all that awesome technology was made to do - make art.
- Reading helps, but I'm very selective of what I read for inspiration, and what I read for entertainment. I find that the vague 'find your passion/vision' articles really don't work for me - it usually leaves me more confused, because in reality, all they are saying is - 'do what your heart tells you to do' or something of that nature - which is what most people are trying to do anyway, they just haven't found out how to go about doing it. I think I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to find it in a blog post, or a book...
So far, so good - there is a lot of information on the internet and in books that tells you all of what I've just said, but I realized that I finally 'got it' when I realized these things on my own. People can tell you what to do a thousand times, but it doesn't really hit home, until you come to it on your own, at which point it starts to make sense... So without further ado, go experience and go make your own mistakes, and hopefully you come to several realizations on your own - and when you do, feel to share it with me :)