This year has been tough in every aspect, no question about it. Has your love for photography also suffered through this?
During the lockdown period throughout the summer, I often heard, or rather, read online, dismayed comments from fellow photographers who had not picked up a camera in months. Whether it was the hectic changes in family and professional life or simply a lack of motivation due to generally feeling down and discouraged, plenty of creatives went through similar feelings. Some are still processing this and going through it. So, how can we take steps to return to that feeling we maybe used to get while the world, our business, and our creative future weren't as confusing?
The reason why many saw themselves not picking up their camera was undoubtedly the physical lack of paid photography jobs available. This might have also made you realize how little you actually used to use photography purely for creative or recreational purposes before all of this. It's easy to fall into a routine of working hard to build a business and slowly move away from what perhaps gave you the ambition to enter that business in the first place. Some of us have a natural passion for building business, be it photography or otherwise, while the creative processes in the background aren't as crucial. However, for many, the creative side is what motivates and excites us more so than the business itself.
Either way, with such large disruptions to our business life, it's natural that our creative energy suffered. Understandably, the reason why you didn't pick up that camera was that just a mere look at it made you feel drained and reminded you of all the losses suffered. It's also unsurprising that you might feel the same way not just about the creative side of photography but about your business as a whole. Personally, I am still questioning my previous plans I set out for myself and am learning to accept that I will need to adjust to the new "normal," which might mean moving away from what I initially thought my future was going to be.
Equally, some creatives have been forced to take on additional or new jobs, which might be a complete u-turn on what the photography career is all about. Gaining new responsibilities and a different schedule means that photography will take up a slightly different part of their lives, which may take a while to get used to. This acclimatization period may eat into large amounts of time and energy that otherwise would have been spent on creative tasks or projects.
But, it's not all doom and gloom. Creativity is something we can rely on to bring us some well-needed escape. Small, intentional and manageable projects are bound to bring back those positive feelings. I found myself using my smartphone more regularly for brief photography projects as I go on about my day because I always have it on me so there is no excuse not to use it. If you are wishing to get back into the process of creation, consider joining or setting up a small group of like-minded people where you give each other a daily, weekly, or monthly task or project. It will keep you more accountable, which in return will help you get to that satisfactory feeling after you have finished a personal project.
Use equipment that is enjoyable and easily accessible. For example, for my personal work, I primarily use a small and fast Fuji camera, which can easily fit in my handbag. I always keep it charged so I can grab it whenever inspiration strikes me. If you have heaps of professional equipment that you simply don't have the energy to use for your personal projects, consider using your smartphone, or if you have any spare funds, invest in a small, affordable camera that you can take with you anytime and anywhere.
It's a lot easier to force ourselves to finish a paid job or to answer client's messages because we know this is our livelihood. When it comes to creativity, it's definitely not easy. But, step by step, you can start introducing it back into your daily life and routine to bring back that passion and excitement, even if it means simply documenting your family life at home. Remind yourself of how you used to feel during an enjoyable shoot or a photography walk or trip. Look through your photo archives and find unedited gems. And keep that camera charged up so you can reach for it and snap whatever caught your eye that day. Sometimes, a simple, imperfect image can be enough to give us the positivity to last through the day.