Finding My Photo MoJo Again
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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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.
Originally Posted by Barry S
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!
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?
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.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
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.