It's out there somewhere

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I’ll let you into a secret – around the time I moved house I lost my photography mojo.

Until I got writer’s block I refused to believe in creative blockages. I was convinced it was just a matter of application.

Sure, there’s a fear of the blank page but as soon as you start writing or get out your camera the creative spark will emerge. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it but I actually thought that people who pleaded writer’s block were lazy.

That was before.

Then in 2006 it hit me. Suddenly I couldn’t write any more. I couldn’t even bring myself to blog any more. I thought about giving it up completely.

There were so many moments when I believed that all I needed was a creative outlet. And anything (except writing) would do.

I turned to photography and took comfort in f-stops and focal lengths. Instead of working on plots and characters I concentrated on depth of field and shutter speeds. For a while I convinced myself it would be enough.

Before I knew what I was doing I started entering competitions and submitting my pics for publication. As soon as I  realised my mistake I put a stop to it. I’ve spent years struggling to get my novel accepted. I’ve endured countless rejections. And where’s the fun in that? I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years and I’ve learnt not to take it personally, but I still take no joy from rejection.

So I decided that photography would always be a hobby. If chasing the grail of publication took the shine off my love of writing, then keeping it close to home would mean I’d never suffer from photographer’s block, right?

Wrong.

I’ve spent the last few months in stunning surroundings yet I’ve only had my camera out a couple of times. The seventh floor of a block of flats in Salford seemed to hold me interest to me than the beauty of the Derbyshire countryside. In Salford, my camera came out almost every night.  But a week or so back I seriously thought about giving up my self portrait project just because I got to Sunday afternoon and couldn’t be bothered to step out of my door and take a shot.

This weekend some friends came over with their cameras, keen to snap a self-portrait and whatever else they might see. I struggled to get my camera out but out it came. While they mused over Saturday night pubs and phone boxes on quiet lanes I kept it closer to home.

Then we went out for lunch and within a couple of hours I’d got through a roll of film. And if I say so myself, I took some pretty nice shots and proved to myself that I can do it. I can even enjoy doing it.

I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve got my mojo back –  it needs more work to get it back to where I want it to be. The impulse may be weak, but at least it’s alive.  And I’ve learned two important lessons – it happens when it happens and there’s nothing you can do about that. And as long as you want it enough, it will come back.

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7 thoughts on “It's out there somewhere

  1. I have often found that a period occupying myself with another medium to be a great help in overcoming writer’s block – or paint block, come to that. (I once decided that if I couldn’t paint any more, Id become an artist in seeing and just photograph the potential paintings that I saw!) I can’t say I have ever had camera block, but I have had periods when I have been uninterested in the results of my efforts – does that count?

  2. For the last year or so, I have been going through massive ups and downs of creativity. For me, I’ve just learned to go with the flow and hope things turn around.

    Good luck!

  3. I think sometimes its also necessary to consume as well as to create.

    I mess around with photography, music, video, writing and other stuff but every so often I just need to take some time to see what others are doing. I suppose its a way to recharge, Sarah Moon’s pictures are my current obsession.

  4. Just don’t put yourself under pressure. If you don’t make your living with photography, why bother? And why feeling some kind of guilt? If you don’t feel like, you don’t feel like! You won’t take better pictures if you’re not into it.
    (But… I really, really don’t want you stop both writing and photography. That’s pretty much the only blog I ever read, for the writing and the photography. I hope the Mojo will find it’s way back to you. I didn’t feel that you’ve lost it, anyway.)

  5. Thanks for all the comments and advice. I’m trying a little of all of them, turning to another medium as Dave suggests, going with the flow, (I hope you’ve overcome yours Justin – that lovely new instax is bound to help start a new addiction. Rashbre – thanks for the link to Sarah Moon, whose work I hadn’t come across, though her name is oddly familiar.

    Eugene – it’s just as bad over here. I’m so tired of hearing about the UK economy. I know it’s important, but everyone needs a break sometime.

    Andreina – I didn’t know you read my blog. Thanks – it means a lot that people do want to read it. Guilt, yes, partly, but it’s also that I get restless and a bit destructive if I’m not doing something creative. I think most creative people are the same, but you only find out when something stops you doing the thing you love.

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