Photographers block, or where the heck did I lose my inspiration?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by aste, May 27, 2010.

  1. aste

    aste Member

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    I have a brand new roll of film loaded in the FM2. It's been sitting at frame 1 for a couple weeks now. It wasn't long ago that I had a backlog of film to develop. Now, I have to burn a roll of 120 (because it's only 10 frames) just so I have something to develop. Nothing gets printed. Nothing's worth printing. The 35mm just sits. It goes with me everywhere, but it sits.

    I'm absolutely bored. Not with photography. Definitely not with film. I love the process. I'm bored with the subject matter.

    I look at the photos I've made so far and they are getting pretty good technically. The compositions aren't even all that bad, either. But, I look at them and think, "so what? What's the point of this photograph?"

    They don't say anything to me. And, I look around everyday and all I see is fodder for the same crap that doesn't speak. So, the FM2 sits in my bag, on frame 1, waiting for me to find some sort of inspiration.

    I'm not sure why I'm posting this. I think I just need someone to tell me this is normal, and maybe give some suggestions on working through it.
     
  2. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I'm kind of in the same situation. I'm filling the void by learning new techniques/processes/etc.
     
  3. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    It's normal.

    The usual suggested remedy is going somewhere different so you can be in a different environment. That's valid, but personally I take the tact of trying accept that some regret is inevitable, but it's better to regret the photo you shot than the photo you didn't shoot. Not every shot, or even every roll, is going to be inspired, but unless you've made up your mind to take a break, it's better to shoot less inspired for a while than to not shoot at all and feel bad about not shooting.
     
  4. werra

    werra Subscriber

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    Yes, it is normal. It goes away in a while. Or it does not. Anyway it is better than being high on "I'm the best photog of the world!". Trying to change the usual subject might help.
     
  5. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    If the subject matter is boring, maybe you just need to get out of your "comfort zone". If you don't normally do people pics, try doing some portraits. Memorial Day is coming up, so get yourself to some activity that the American Legion puts on and make some pictures. Try this: Put a 50mm lens on that Nikon and get really close to some ordinary object. Sometimes the best ideas come from looking at the work of others.

    Regards,
    Dave
     
  6. heespharm

    heespharm Subscriber

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    That's when I retreat and process pictures/film, do some prints of things you normally wouldn't print, or do photography that you hate so you love getting back to what u normally do..
     
  7. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    I get the same way sometimes, and when that happens I just get in my car and drive a couple of hours away and see what I find.
     
  8. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Posted wirelessly..

    I know the feeling; I'm in a similar rut now myself. Shooting half-frame has helped a little.

    You might try going out without a camera. I've done that, and almost immediately I was inspiried. I see millions of things to photograh when I don't have a camera, or run out of film.
     
  9. Laurent

    Laurent Subscriber

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    I feel less alone... I'm in a similar situation now. My darkroom is unused, the cameras sit on the shelf....

    I try to cure this by getting away from my cameras for a while. I have so many things to do in the workshop, like fixing all my lathe's issues, so this used the hours I had recently. Then I'll turn a ring to adapt my Nikkor 135 on the enlarger without the 50-39 ring, etc... I might do a few film tests (I've been contemplating this for a while)

    I know it'll come back, and I know part of it is my current laziness, and the fact that I need to get out of my village for some nice subjects I've scouted (but I HATE using the car for this, may be I should build a trailer for my bicycles)
     
  10. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Happens to me all the time. Often I've spent ages on a particular project, after a burst of enthusiasm, and took a lot of negatives - only get as far as the proof prints. Then I get overcome with the 'what's the point of these pictures?' syndrome, too.

    What I felt helped was looking at it the other way around. Instead of searching for an interesting subject and then taking the photograph in the hope that eventually I'll carry it through to some sort of finished picture, I start by deciding what picture I want. Maybe: What would look good hanging on the wall in the dining room? Decide on the picture, then work backwards, finding the subject and then deciding on the process, film, camera... I found I maintained my inspiration much better this way, when I had a very clear idea what I was trying to produce at the end. I suppose it is what a lot of studio and still life photographers do. "Today, I am going to make a picture of 'X'..." rather than "That's interesting, let's photo it..."
     
  11. snallan

    snallan Member

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    Try making small proofs (4x6 or 5x7) from a full roll of film, then pin them up around the house where you might see them during your normal day.

    But don't pin them up right way up. Have them upside down, or on an edge. That way if they catch your eye as you pass, you are not seeing a subject that you took a photograph of, you are seeing objects that are collections of line and tones. This might inspire you to print from some of the frames in a different way, picking on details, or abstracts. This in turn may inspire you to look at the same old fodder in a different way, sparking your desire to shoot again.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Forget the photography, give up thinking about what you "think" you should shoot.

    Then go do something you want to do, visit places, events or whatever, maybe don't take a camera, then you'll suddenly find that something will inspire you to shoot images again and give them a purpose.

    Ian
     
  13. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    I see so many great pictures when I haven't got a camera with me!
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    come up with some sort of "project"
    you might find a little more purpose ....
    and even then, you might find yourself in a rut ...

    i've been in a rut for 15+ years
     
  16. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I also have been in a similar vein of thought; decided to go back to basics and pulled out my old 6x9 folder and visit a place out of town. Just shot for the sake of shooting.

    Maybe set yourself a project - something that will take some effort to research and put together and give yourself a timeframe to shoot. I'm currently still shooting a "lamp post" series - all old style or "quirky" and all in b&w.

    On a visit to the EU I shot post boxes - the official versions, not private mailboxes.
    Tried a fire hydrant series - but that got really hard when I moved back home to AU - they aren't as interesting as the ones in the US and all look the same.

    I'm also trying to find a way to shoot old car hood ornaments - *very* rare here in TH, but when I go back to AU for a visit, will attempt to get it to coincide with an old car rally.

    Have a couple of shots of scripts from Porsche on my site - another little project I set myself that continues today. :smile:
     
  17. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Dont worry about being in a funk. Leave the high tech gadget on the shelf, and stay out of the DR. Go out and be a tourist for a while, and just enjoy the time without any self-induced pressure. Next, find a cheap P&S camera, and just shoot snaps of nonsense,dont think about what you shoot, only shoot for the fun of a moment. Let the 1-hour lab process them for you. Set the prints out everywhere throughout the house, and just ignore them. At this point, human nature takes over, and you look them over, and start to "see" what they are all about, and you may be excited to grab the do-it-all off the shelf, and be motivated to play with it instead of thinking you have to "create art" every time you pick it up.
    Its alright to not want to pick up your camera(s), mine sit for extended periods, when something strikes my fancy, a-shooting I go. Stop "forcing" yourself, and just enjoy life.
     
  18. aste

    aste Member

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    Thank you all for the very encouraging replies. I'll be taking your suggestions to heart. :smile:
     
  19. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I go through periods like that. Just takes time to get out of that funk.

    Jeff
     
  20. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    We're supposed to feel inspired?
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I just came out of a creative slump, and like you I got gazillions of advice of how to get out of it. One of them was 'just do it'. So I forced myself to bring four rolls of film to the local conservatory and just photograph plants the way I see them, in black and white. When I got back home I immediately forced myself to process one or two rolls of it and look at them, scan them, organize them. If I had had a darkroom up and running, I would have contact printed them and potentially printed a couple.
    The idea here was to do something I hadn't done before, and force myself to explore the camera and what's in front of it again. I shot nearly everything wide open.
    I'm still working those negatives, six months later. It will come back to you.

    It also helps to leave the camera behind a little, go do something else that doesn't involve photography. Sooner than you think, you will see something that you want to shoot and you're off on your merry way again.

    I hope that helps.
     
  22. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    I wish I had such luxury. Being too busy to be uncreative, always having problems to solve, always being in the center or the center of chaos, is the only way to live. Creative stagnation is not necessarily a personal failure but rather an environmental condition which people need to fight against.
     
  23. photoncatcher

    photoncatcher Member

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    It happens. I've gone more than a month without touching my gear, or going in the dark room. I found out that if I force my self to "go shooting" I just end up wasting film ($$), and time. It is frustrating, but it happens to us all.
     
  24. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    How about going through your old negatives or contact sheets? Look at photos you have taken before. No doubt, there are pictures you have taken but you wish you had done better?

    Make a list of two or three photos that you wish you had done better... Should have been exposed differently... Should have been developed differently... Could have been shot from a slightly different angle... Etc., etc. etc....

    Just go back and reshoot a few of those old pictures that you wish you had done better.

    You will:

    1) Improve some of those photos you wish you had done better.
    2) Hone your skills by shooting familiar subjects.
    3) Hopefully find a new way of looking at old, familiar places to give you a new spark of creativity.

    Concentrate on #1.
    Work on #2 while you are at it.
    Don't worry about #3. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

    I have two or three places I just go to shoot. I've been to those places, literally, hundreds of times. I know just about every inch of them. But, strangely, every time I go there, I find something else to look at or I will look at something I've seen a hundred times in a different way.
     
  25. ishutteratthethought

    ishutteratthethought Subscriber

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    Go see an exhibit from one of the masters or watch a documentary or read a book about one of the masters, you will get inspired, works for me EVERY time. The exhibit thing really works the best though.
    Steve
     
  26. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I face that problem all the time. Sometimes I just put down the camera and go to museums and travel to refill my creative batteries. I usually get good photos when I least expect to. Sometimes expectations of "getting the shot" makes you overlook the beauty in front of you. Another trick is to carry a camera around with you have have an intentionless intention to make photographs.