Opposite of Failure

Living In My Dream

It’s been a weird summer.

It started with such promise. But as the months passed, more and more projects started to slip. My musicians portrait project fizzled, and I found myself picking up my camera less and less.

Just today, I turned in the keys to my studio. I paid for the whole month of August and only accomplished one portrait shoot. I held on to it a month longer than I should have. Guilt made me keep it – you paid for this great space, don’t give it up! – until I couldn’t logically justify the expense.

After a while, I had to tell myself to stop feeling guilty, and accept this new-found funk for what it is: a down period.

Plenty of creative people go through it, and there’s tons of ways to deal with it. My own method has been to recognize it, accept it (grudgingly), and hope things get better.

The sticky part is thinking back on previous years where I was productive. I look back through my Lightroom catalog and Flickr albums and yearn for those creative periods. I was shooting every season, every day, every situation. I was making documentaries and exploring my community and learning about other artists. From 2012 until this spring, I feel like I was on fire with photography.

At the start of the summer, I tried to power through this down period I felt coming on. I started my musicians project with half a heart, but after a while I couldn’t ignore my creative block. I tried really hard, too.

With this blog, I wanted to make it a daily thing for at least a year, and then try posting a few times a week after that. My strategy worked decently well for a while, but now I feel like I have nothing to say about the larger world of photography. I’ve turned inward, sharing and documenting what’s going on around me, with little thought to best practices or experiments in picture making. These days, it’s mostly just picture sharing.

Could it be that I was so steeped in photography that I got burned out? That doesn’t explain my desire for more productive times.

Several things happened in the spring that I can point to and say, “Maybe that was it.” We moved into a new home, into a new community, had a new baby. I was a year into my new job, hitting my stride. My commute wasn’t what it used to be. All of these were big life-changing circumstances. Did they affect my photographic output? Or was it something else?

Time will tell. I’ll let the autumn come and try to capture the season and its changes, and use the cold months to think about this funk.

My hope is that, on the other end, I’ll come up with a recipe for whatever the opposite of feeling like a failure is.