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This Week Sucks and the WHY of My Photographic Existence

So I have had a shitty last couple of weeks. I mean a REAL shitty couple of weeks. The makes you wanna sit in a corner with your knees pulled up to your chest while rocking back and forth kinda weeks. The weeks that — I am learning — are defining me.

I have had some very personal issues lately. From losing confidence in my art, to relationship issues, to wanting to throw up my hands and just abandon it all. I even considered packing my camera away.

For the last 10 days I felt as though I was in a state of suspended animation. A slow motion out-of-body train wreck that I had sit on the sidelines and witness.

We’ve all been there. I am not looking for any sympathy or anything, I just wanted to share a recent discovery and thank a couple of people for leading me to the light.

I have always been a fan of meditation. I must admit that I am not nearly as consistent with it as I feel I should be. I usually do it when I am at a point of complete shutdown. And it helps. I am no zen master, but I do — for a few minutes — get a chance to settle the political war going on in my head and quiet the voices for a bit. I can’t get them to be completely silent, but I can at least get them to speak a couple at a time rather than the all out scream fest I usually deal with.

Monday night was the breaking point. I sat up in bed and zoned out.

While in my quiet space, I asked a simple question. WHY do I shoot photography? I have been stressing over the fact that I don’t make any money from my photography. I have been so focused on how to monetize my photography that I completely forgot why I shoot. I have a decent job. And while photography is expensive, it’s much less expensive than it was for the pioneers who were shooting film only a few decades ago.

I don’t know if I got an answer that night, but I do remember the dream I had. I was in my [imaginative] penthouse condo with floor to ceiling glass windows and lingerie clad models all around. The pool had a couple of models with silicone mermaid fins and I felt like I was a rockstar photographer/cinematographer.

Tuesday morning on my way to work, I believe I got my answer.

I had a quick flashback of a conversation with a model a month or so ago. She said she liked my work and wanted to know what I charged for shoots. My exact answer was that I don’t charge anything — yet. I shoot because I love to.

I’m sure it sounded all poetic and shit, but I DO remember my heart kinda fluttering after I said that. Not sure if it fluttered because — thinking back — it was corny or it was that LOVE. But I had a serious feeling of pride and wanting to really be the best photographer I can absolutely be.

And that’s when it all started falling into place.

I let a few friends into what was going on in my life and they gave the most amazing boost. My dude Gabe has always questioned why I do anything EXCEPT video production and photography. He’s got a great deal of faith in my skills. And then my model friend and sister from a different mister — Ms. Samantha T. Sorry to be such a pain in the ass and a drag. But I think you feel me. Or maybe you just say those nice things to keep me from completely falling apart so you can get your photos… 🙂

Sure, I back-burnered my relationship issues and I am VERY sure that’s the source of a LOT of the issues I am having — the proverbial chokepoint of my creative energy. I’m a nerd. I hate change… So, I opted for my coping mechanism — I buried myself into my work.

I have a serious backlog of photos that need my attention. So I started knocking a few out, and then I kept going… And before I knew it, I also had a long list of shoots I wanted to do.

But I noticed something different about this list. Something deep inside me rose to the top. The concepts I had were distinctly mine. They were thoughts and fantasies that I have. Not chasing some other photographer’s vision — but uniquely mine.

What brought along this post is that I just finished reading, “It’s All in Your Head: Photographic Vision Over Photographic Skills.” It’s an article on the F-Stoppers site that talks about what separates photographers once equipment and skills are equal.

The visions in my head are fucked up. They are beautiful. They are grotesque. They are erotic and sensual and troubling and nerdy and trendy and grungy and refined and MINE. There are no other photographers that see what I see, the way I see them.

And THAT’S what made me get into photography. THAT’S my WHY.

And in this time of lacking self-confidence and uncertainty and wanting to quit, I found my center. I realize people don’t pay photographer because they shoot pretty photos. Rockstar photographers aren’t bred by posting a photo here or there. They are developed through being truthful to themselves and presenting that to the world. They have taken the plunge to the deepest depths of their inner being and their photos are the postcards to show the world their journey.

How fuckin’ poetic.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while, I need to pack up for my journey. I’ll send you a postcard from the stops on my way.

NOTE: I have been reading The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. It’s a book that has been around for a while. Good book, and mimics some of the basic foundations that many self-help books do. This one tackles it from an artist’s perspective and is focused on opening up the floodgates to your inner creativity. I have only gotten through half of the book, so I cannot offer a full synopsis. But I’ve packed it on the top of my luggage! 🙂