Finding My Photo MoJo Again

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by daleeman, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Greetings,
    Well I’ve really enjoyed photography all my life, caught the fever from my father and my grandfathers. Have made my living at it and as now for years enjoyed it as a passion and even part of my current job.

    Of late I have been absolutely overwhelmed and put my life on hold for months now taking care of my ill and ageing mother and father. Spent months a thousand miles away from home, getting them in and out of hospitals, dealing with nursing homes, lawyers and Government red tape, selling ALL that they have acquired in life to set them on course for living out the time they have left in life. So as a care taker I have eaten away at myself to give for them.

    I have thousands and thousands of photographs from my father and grandfather to sort out and they are piled up in our spare bedroom. Besides the legal and financial stuff taking a lot of time doing the photo chores of sorting, trashing, preserving and distributing; well, time takes time and a toll.

    So where is my Photo Mojo? I have for some reason, (Stress I bet) lost all drive and desire to photograph people, places and things, "anything". I do not feel creative, motivated nor accepting that time to get out and shoot leaves so many details undone and there is such little time in a day as it is.

    If you have lived through this and have words of encouragement and or guidance, I would appreciate your replies.
    Lee
     
  2. altair

    altair Member

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    My sympathies, Lee. Reading your post hit a chord with me, as I am in the same ocean as you, if not in the same boat. Am feeling a bit photo-lackadaisical myself. In a photographic rut. My situation aren't as dire as yours, though. I am a grad student doing my PhD and I'm living on a student's allowance for two (my wife is a housewife). My in-laws are going to retire soon which means they're going to expect some financial help from me in the near future. Their health isn't that good as well. My parents are also thinking of retiring for good, and their health is also sloooowly going downhill. My gear addiction isn't helping either :smile:

    I have tired of taking street photos and don't have enough money to hire models to shoot in the studio (portraits are my main interest), and travelling hundreds of miles away just for a photo trip is out of the question with my busy research schedule.

    What I do though, to help overcome the problem, is to just go out & TRY to take photos. Even if you don't feel like it. Sometimes it helps. I have wandered around places with a camera (even though I'm bored of street photos), at first thinking what a waste of time this is, only to suddenly find something worth photographing. So..just a suggestion..go out & try to make something. It might be easier than you think.

    Good luck & may you & yours have all the best.

    -Dani
     
  3. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Dani,
    thank you for the input. Health of family members is a moving target and being a care taker can be very consuming. Keep your family active in the topic of health and age; might twart off future issues I am up to my nose in.

    I do remember being so financially strapped many times I was almost scared to shoot because it involved money each time and there was never enough. Understand that.!!!

    Your adivce about just going and trying to make something happen is very well put. I long for those nice long distance trips again but a long walk in the village or in a park or a farm field just might produce something, exercise at the least.

    I was once told you can not think your way into good living, but you can life your way into good thinking. Maybe that applies into art too, or photography at least

    Lee
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    First and foremost, don't force it! Some people say you should try to shoot through it, if you get "shooter's block." I think that can be very counterproductive, if it amounts to forcing yourself to do something that you aren't really enjoying at this moment. Imagine telling a writer with writer's block to practice writing :s Not good.

    You could maybe pick an easy re-entry point, perhaps grab a piece that you'd really enjoy using, just something inexpensive and fun- a lomo fisheye or whatever makes you smile! Yes, it is about enjoyment, first and foremost. And, who knows, maybe "serious" photography just isn't where it's at for you right now? I recently took a detour through linocutting and other similar methods. Now I'm back to photography... with a very different perspective on the creative process.

    I think it's very important to realize that the technical process and the creative process are not the same. In my own experience, a lot of people who develop shooter's block have simply forgotten that. Photography can be as easy as you wish; just try not to load it down with a bunch of technical trivia. A lot of smart people put a lot of time into making the craft accessible to everyone... and it's as easy as you like or as complex as you like.
     
  5. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    There might be an idea or inspiration in one of those thousands of photos. Sifting through memories is painful, but one of them, or any number of them, might be a starting point for a new idea.
     
  6. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    Lee-- Props to you for being such a good son. Caregivers need care too and it's not a good idea to neglect your own needs and life. Maybe you can separate what *needs* to be done from what can wait. Medical care and living accommodations are urgent needs, but sorting photos? It can wait. As long as the photos are protected from the elements--why add to your responsibilities? Build personal time into your schedule to do things you enjoy and as Keith mentioned--no need to force anything with photography--it will be there when you want it. Take care.

    Barry
     
  7. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Barry,

    How true. I'll box these up,heard them into a safe place and let them wait. There in deed may be some ideas generated from viewing all those images, but life in the now.... has a way of bringing images to life that one experiences. I can get back to the images of the past again in easier times.

    Never knew how much is involved in picking up other's lives for them. the needs and got toos first, and then the list of secondary things follow is right. When in overwhelm time colapses and all things seem to be first in line.

    Keith's idea is a good one. I'll punch holes in the care taker's 26 hour days and fall back a notch or three.

    Thanks for the response!

    Lee
     
  8. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I agree with Keith and Barry. And... Don't force it. Take some walks (maybe take a camera, but leave it in your bag unless you see something really good), get some fresh air, get some space. Being a caretaker and cleaner-outer take a lot out of you. My parents have spent much of the last year cleaning out my grandmother's house. They're both exhausted with it. They're also planning a trip to Scotland in June. Take some sort of break once you've done the things that absolutely have to be done.
    And maybe it's time for a print sharing get-together near Cuyahoga National Park?
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Are either of your parents well enough to still get some enjoyment from those photographs? If so, just looking at some of the photos with them may lessen the burden and refresh your photo mojo.
     
  10. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    One of the biggest problems I have with running a photography program at a youth shelter is that they have so much on their plate that is more important than photography, they constantly lose their mojo from stress around various family, mental health, addiction, educational, behavioural, etc. barriers. As a result, they drop photography or put it off because there's just more important things in life. I feel for you and your situation. It's not an easy one, especially when it's so emotionally and physically draining and taking away from the same energy you need to do photography. I find in my field, I'm often physically and emotionally drained working with the youth that I do and can't even think of photography, even on my days off. Some weeks I'm so stressed from having a client relapse, get arrested, have a complete family breakdown, lose it on me, end up in the hospital or pysch ward I can't even think of photography or myself because my photography seems so pointless in the totality of life. Over a year ago, I left my job and moved to NYC (to follow a girl, not out of burning out on my job), Interned at MV Labs under a great Print Master and it completely revived my photographic ambitions when all the weight was off my shoulders and I was able to walk around NYC for days and days just shooting. I found a new love for photography after that and now that I'm in the field again (after a big breakup in NYC and moving back home to Ontario), I feel some of that weight still and often trudge along with the daily rituals of workplace stress, family stress, financial woes, etc. My strategy is that I make a day a week to hit the darkroom and print and take my camera everywhere with me on my days off, so when that inspiration hits, I'm armed. I don't have entire days in a row to regain my mojo or go and explore, but sometimes I'll be driving along a road or through a town and get inspired by something, stop for an hour to shoot. I also read about photography and photographers I admire to get inspired and find my own vision.

    You might need to push forward without photography for a bit to focus on getting the problems in your life dealt with and when the dust settles, photography will be there and you will have all the energy again and more able to tap back into that mojo. Very few people have the power to turn stress into something truly brilliant. If you aren't one of those people, deal with the barriers to your mojo and when they're gone dive right back into it. I'm certain it will be there when this turbulence in your life has subsided.
     
  11. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Bethe,

    Thanks so much for your message of hope. I have been looking in the Great Lakes Region in hopes of seeing a future even pop up in John's delightful neighborhood. Being with friends and sharing images and exploring sounds wonderful.

    I can understand and own the shoes when it comes to clean out of other's homes. My thoughts are with your parents in their efforts and I have always dreamed of visiting Scotland so I hope they have an outstanding time relaxing there.

    Lee
     
  12. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Jordan,
    Your insights into how events bites into so many of these youth's lives gives rise to the fact that many things become prioities in the blink of an eye. I admire you for trying to make a difference in others lives and hope you too stay in the MoJo stream with your creativity.
    Lee
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Good luck, Lee!

    I hope everything works out well for both you and your parents. You seem like a true model son for being so diligent with helping your parents. My own folks went through the same with my grandmother over in Sweden at the end of last year, and it drained a lot of their energy and will to do other things, which they simply had to set aside for a while.
    Perhaps what you need is some time, and some pause in your life to just settle your mind around everything that's happened and changed. I had my divorce in 2010, where I moved out of my old house in September 2009, and then sorted things until about June of 2010. In those months I had very little desire for photography, and it wasn't a fun experience, so I mostly left it alone, which I think was necessary. Instead I cooked good meals, spent time with friends, relaxed, had a glass of good wine now and again, and I tried to enjoy every single moment of it.
    But after a few months of stalling photography I was a bit lost, not feeling that it would come back to me, and then a couple of people, whom I'm infinitely grateful to, gave me a kick in the rear to force me to get out there and shoot a roll off, process it, and do something with the negatives. And then do it again. Eventually this reeled me in, and I found a place in photography where I am even more passionate and motivated than I ever was.

    What's individual and important, I think, is the timeline in which this happens. You may well find yourself being inspired as heck one day, for no apparent reason, or you may not, but I think the advice to pause is sound, and then you'll have to figure out when and if you need a kick in the rear to get going again, and when you do I'll happily provide it. :smile:

    You seem like a really good guy, and I'm sure you'll get all of this sorted out in time.

    - Thomas
     
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  15. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    Lee,

    I am not familiar with your photographic interests, but do understand your feelings. As I age, and my mobility decreases, I find it frustrating at times. But what I have found, for me, is that I find the process more important than the subject. Not that the images are unimportant, far from it. But, that I can lose myself in the moment. To cease to think about my cares and situation, as I photograph. I find that I can find interesting images in my own yard. No, not grand vistas, but images I would like to capture and work with. More importantly it becomes an enjoyable challenge to find images on this smaller scale.

    Choosing the light, the exposure, the depth of field, works the same for a bug, a flower, a tree, or a mountain. Suddenly I no longer think about what is past, or what is fading. I am in the moment, and doing something I thoroughly enjoy. For me, it is good therapy and more than enough.

    Hopefully you will find your mojo...



    ---
    I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=36.790798,-90.481149
     
  16. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Well one thing to try is being social while shooting, hang out with other people who are taking pictures.

    Camera club field trips, seminars, workshops, whatever.

    It doesn't even need to be subjects you would normally shoot, in fact that's part of the magic. Whenever I do this I come back with something fun, no exception.
     
  17. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Wow, this is very true. While I have been wrapped up with all things mom and dad I am not living in the moment. For as my concept of photographygoes it is always been about being in the moment, it is there that one can really see.

    Yes I too am finding my own mobility is less than I would like it. Certainly hope to be as mobile as I can for as long as I can. Please enjoy all the mobility and adventure in all ways (good advice for me too)
     
  18. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Lee, my thoughts are with you. It is difficult enough to face the immediate days ahead without thinking of carrying on with your passion for photography. I do not doubt that it still exists, but other concerns will make it difficult to find time or energy for any sort of self indulgence for some time. You have received excellent advice and support so far, so there is little I can add. I will say, however that you do need to take time for yourself, either with a camera or without. You need to indulge your needs in some small way.

    It may be the furthest thing from your mind, but you should check out Philip Toledano's Days With my Father. Philip created a moving tribute to his father while caring for his own physical, mental and emotional health in difficult days. I am sure it was a difficult thing to undertake, but the result is a stunning portrait of love and life.

    Kind regards,
    Tom
     
  19. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    I agree with Matt on this one. Not to mention, that if they can id the people in the photos and you record it somehow, it will preserve this information for future generations.

    ME Super
     
  20. lesm

    lesm Member

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    As others have suggested, Lee, now may be the time for you to just go with what's in front of you, one day at a time. If it doesn't feel right to be taking photos, don't take photos. It'll all come back with renewed passion when the time's right. However, could I suggest - and I hope you don't find this indelicate - that perhaps you could take lots of photos of your parents. From what you're saying, they have limited time to enjoy their lives with you and now might be a very good time to have a camera with you when you go and visit them. I remember a newspaper article many years ago about a photographer whose husband was dying of cancer. She took hundreds of shots of him throughout his illness and even after he'd died. People were shocked but I think it was a beautiful thing to do. It was her way of dealing with the emotional turmoil of losing the one she loved. Photography was a strength she had that she didn't have to think too much about but which got her out of her head for a while (and left her with some wonderful images after he'd died).

    Is this something that has any appeal to you, I wonder?
     
  21. lesm

    lesm Member

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    I just wanted to add that one of the things I love about this forum is the atmosphere of trust that's generated, to the extent that people like Lee can feel confident of support when it's asked for, not just in photography related matters but in very personal issues too.
     
  22. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Last night, I put my Tachihara 4x5 and a few holders, cable release, loupe and stuff into my walking bag. Put it on for a while in the house and decided that this Saturday I'd take them for a walk. Not certain where or what to do, but just wanted to feel what I have not felt for a while.

    Thank you all for your support and shared experiences. Guess we all have the opportunity to be a caregiver, and its been odd being one but I am starting to believe I need to care more for my inner person too. So I do not know if shoot over the weekend, but I have scheduled time to walk and look see. So we will see.

    Lee
     
  23. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I haven't completely read through all the threads but will offer this ---
    Lee,

    If you have young children or family or friends with one consider giving him/her a simple camera and very basic instructions then take them out shooting with you. They see things through very different eyes than adults and if nothing else they can make good subjects. I gave each of my six grandchildren cameras when they turned two. When we would go out to a park or zoo or such they would bring their cameras. Their enthusiasm is contagious even making suggestions to you. Before you know it you will be back with it.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  24. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    I like that idea. I bet my three year old granddaughter would laugh seeing the world upside down on the GG and she is a blast to be with.
     
  25. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Thanks to all who contributed and gave well wishes in this thread. Not surprisingly the support from others being a care givers surfaced and the challenges and stresses that creates. Knowing I am not alone helps.

    This weekend my wife and I took off for Hocking Hills state park here in Ohio for the weekend. We hiked, went bird watching and did some photography. It was uplifting. Hopefully time in the darkroom will follow soon with results.

    Can’t say I am as I was before all the issues with Mom and Dad, but I certainly found some real joy with my eye in the camera again and knowing my elder parents are being cared for.

    Lee
     
  26. altair

    altair Member

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    Glad to hear that worked, Lee. All the best!