You ever been in a funk? You know what I mean. If you are in the creative industry, like painting, drawing, ceramic making, printmaking, photography, or well, even this…writing, you have hit a creative wall of sorts at one time or another. There are different names for it. Writers block, lack of inspiration, stress of a deadline, workload burden, even a mid-life crisis is just a few of ways to express it.
But it happens to all of us. It can happen many times during a single project (sounds familiar) or it can occur once in a lifetime (fortunate, indeed.) I have known fiction writers who only find that final push, that last inspiration, when the rent on the apartment is due.
I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway would wait for a phone call from his accountant, then he would crank out a best seller to replenish his bank account. If only I had that problem.
I have experienced blocks many times, especially in photography. I can be running on high octane for several months, then it finds me. And I am not speaking about the creativeness that runs aground. Shipwreck happens to the best of us. An idea is dropped into your creative mind, me being gullible enough to entertain that idea starts to run with it, without any real plan on where it might lead and before I know it I am on the sidelines wondering why it has run aground. Oh yes, I have plenty of folders on my hard drive with half-baked ideas in digital form. I need to spend an afternoon someday removing all those folders with ideas that will never become exposed in any form. The reason I do not? You never know if that idea will come back, having been tossed around the subconscious and return a best seller. It can happen. It rarely does for me; but it can happen.
That is where I am today. Paid photography (I’ve never like the term “professional”, there is no board exam) can be boring and does not pay well enough to warrant any real thought process, so to get that charge of creativeness I desire, I use art to move the needle on “worth”; I count on creative artwork. If only I earned a livable wage by the hour to do my own work. But I rarely do. Most of my “art” will never earn a single dime. For me, that is okay. I would like to make money for my artwork, but it is not why I do it. I do it because it confirms me ways that money, editors, clients and critique cannot.
I have become bored with the landscape of Minnesota. As much as I hate the wintry weather, winter in Minnesota is the best time for me to find creativeness. I dig the stark reality of white snow against a bare landscape. But did I mention that I hate cold? So, when the leaves begin to come back on the trees, when bushes start to fill in with foliage, as the weather starts to warm even slightly, I am out there again. If I catch the transition from winter to spring early enough, I can get a win-win scenario.
I found myself on a chilly spring afternoon rummaging through the portable hard drive that keeps all my photographs and came across a huge folder simply entitled, “8.20.2017.” I have changed my labeling process greatly because three years down the road I have no idea what a simple time stamp means in relation to its contents. So, I opened it.
I found my inspiration for this blog. Hidden inside “8.20.2017” were over six hundred images from a vacation/portfolio trip to Utah. I had a love/hate relationship with Utah for many years. But I have so many fond memories of Utah to fall back on that I simply love Utah now. I met my wife in Utah. I got a college degree in Utah, I met some of best people, truly inspirational in my life professionally and personally at the same time, in Utah. I have seen some of the best landscape material available in Utah. What is not to love about Utah. Okay, if you are not Mormon then the Mormon’s can get under your skin if you allow them in Utah. But that is about it.
Anyway, in the summer of 2017 my wife and I went back to visit old college friends and to get some photo material I could use. It was a trip down memory lane. Friends from 30 years ago, all of us looking a lot older that I imagined we would (me included), dinners out, dinners in and photographs. It was the perfect storm.
I got back to Minnesota a week later and found plenty of material for several portfolios. Yesterday I reprocessed nineteen pictures from that trip and I present several for you to look at.
What have I discovered from all of this? Well, I need to take more photo trips beyond the Minnesota borders, and I need to rely on past success to keep pushing me forward. I need to go easy on myself, creativeness does not need a timeline. Great gets created one step at a time. Just keep churning out the ideas and if they run aground, so what. It is not the end of the world.