It is well documented that in any artistic pursuit, there are periods in which your creativity starts to wither. It’s a weird situation which often comes unannounced. Ideas that seamlessly flow through you beforehand suddenly dry up and leave you barren.
Your creativity is still in there somewhere, hibernating, but you can’t tap in to it. And, worse still, there is no indication as to when it’ll reignite itself…
Maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe never.
Either way, the fact remains… you’ve become creatively redundant!
For the past 6 months, I’ve experienced a brick wall in my personal photography… vision, inclination, motivation, inspiration, excitement, experimentation, direction, creativity etc.
It all just vanished and I’ve struggled to get my head around it or to drag myself back from it.
I tried everything; forcing myself out with the camera, going to new locations or sticking with old ones, podcasts, YouTube videos, photobooks, blogs, music, art, films, interviews, even gear reviews, all in an attempt to provoke a flicker of creativity from my dormant state.
My beloved Fuji cameras weren’t even able to rouse me from my creative slumber!
The only consolation? The knowledge that many other people were in exactly the same situation…
Despite most people’s advice to the contrary, I opted to take a break from my personal photography for a while. I’ve still been shooting for clients, and enjoying the work, but when it came to shooting for myself, I just put my cameras down and left them.
Moreover, I felt much happier doing so.
Relief at last!
Only now can I see that I was totally exhausted, physically and mentally. My workload, family commitments (I have a one year old), studying and so on completely sapped my creative energy.
I was getting increasingly frustrated with the work I was producing and the limited time I had to create work I was proud of.
With hindsight, I think I probably extended my ambivalence towards photography through forcing myself to keep pursuing it.
I just needed a break!
Have you experienced something similar? How did you overcome it?
I’d be really interested to hear some stories in the comments section and, whilst there is obviously no definitive solution for ‘creative redundancy’, sharing ideas might just help another photographer through a sticky patch.
Slowly, things started falling back into place for me. I began picking up the camera again and I’ve just been shooting anything and everything, looking in different places and seeing differently.
In fact, I’ve just started working on two exciting new projects that wouldn’t have come about had I not stepped back for a while to recuperate. Often the pressures that weigh us down are put there by ourselves.
The shackles are off.
I’m back, and I’m raring to go…
(All images owned by Sonny Nathan using Fujifilm X100T and a combination of XT20/XT1 and 16mm/27mm/56mm)