This photo took me 4 weeks to make:
Not because it’s an amazing photo; it’s clearly not. Not because it’s particularly complex; it’s clearly not. The setting up, shooting and photoshopping only took an hour. But I spent 4 weeks wondering what to shoot, debating between this idea and that idea, this concept and that concept… and never shooting anything.
You see, last month I finished a year-long 365 project. It was one of the hardest challenges I’ve taken on – it’s not easy taking a photo every single day without a break. But holy moley, what a fantastic way to improve your photography, get more practice in, massively boost your portfolio, make new friends and fall in love with arguably the greatest invention of mankind (no, not Chindogu): photography.
And now that it’s all over, I find myself with more free time than I know what to do with. No amount of Sex and the City reruns (*cough* ahem, I mean something manly like Ice Road Truckers) seems to fill the void. I ache to get back into photography, and I know that I should pick my camera up again… But after finishing a project as intense as a 365 project, it’s hard to know exactly what to shoot next. I thought all this extra free time would give me the freedom to do the photography I wanted to do, but in some ways I’ve let myself be restricted by the freedom of choice. I have thousands of photo ideas to choose from, and in the end I’ve done none of them.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this: as photographers, we sometimes spend a lot of time wishing we were shooting more. And if you’re anything like me, you occasionally check out all the amazing photos other people are taking and feel the pressure to get off your butt and shoot something just as cool as what they’re doing. That pressure can be wonderful impetus… but it can also be a reminder that you don’t feel very satisfied spending all your free time playing Candy Crush Saga and seeing your camera gather dust in the corner.
So, how do we move past the “photographer’s block” of “I could take any kind of photo I want… So what on Earth should I shoot?” I think the answer is to just shoot something. Doesn’t have to be great. Doesn’t have to be the best photo you’ve ever taken. Hell, it doesn’t even have to make you glad you took it. But by taking a photo of something, anything, by moving forward one step it makes the next step (the next photo) a little easier, then a little easier, and before you know it you’re back in that groove.
The photo at the top clearly isn’t anything special. But awww shucks, I am glad I took it. It’s my “getting back on the horse” photo, the first step in whatever future lays before me. Photography offers us such a wonderfully exciting journey, and I’m so glad I get to share my journey with other photographers, and have them share their journeys with me.