If You Aren’t Sick of Photography You Aren’t Trying Hard Enough
I mean it. If you aren’t sick of photography or film making, or needlecraft, or whatever your art is, you are not trying hard enough.
Sure, you could have a casual love affair with photography forever. Maybe you could even be obsessed with it in a way that the obsession never fades. But anyone who really dedicates themselves to their art will at some point be completely and utterly furious with the medium.
Have you ever felt that empty pit of despair in the bottom of your gut when you remembered you were going to go out and shoot some photos today? I have. Ever realized how long it’s been since you’ve picked up a camera and been haunted by the thought? Ever felt like grabbing your neighbor Danny by the epaulets on his band leader jacket and shaking him, screaming in his face, “If I have to take ONE more photo I’m going to eat my own face off!”
It is perfectly natural, and, in my opinion, a healthy reaction to passion. Passion for photography, passion for film making, passion for story telling. Passion consumes. And at some point, if you are really passionate about something, it will consume a chunk of your lower intestine (or feel like it anyhow), leaving you with that painful empty feeling.
Don’t let it get you down. All you need is a recharge. Take a break. Find another way to express yourself. Never painted? Give it a try. Take a class, or just go it on your own. Take up juggling. Do something to get your mind off of it. Give yourself permission to not think about your art. Tell yourself for the next two weeks, or month, or two months I’m not going to pick up a camera at all, under any circumstances, not even if an alien space craft lands on my lawn and a bunch of nude ice cream sandwich models saunter out wanting to trade their delicious frozen treats for head shots.
Freeing yourself from it can have a powerful effect. Likely, before your mandated abstention has come to an end you’ll be hungry to jump back in. That hunger is a good thing.
Never had that empty feeling? Maybe this isn’t your passion. Maybe it’s just a hobby. Nothing wrong with that. I hope you find a passion for it or for something else. Am I wishing you the pain and suffering of sleepless nights, nausea, and agony? In a way, yes. It may not feel like it at the time, but it’s worth it. At least it is for me. The upside is freedom.
Yes, passion both frees and enslaves. Passion for your art makes you a slave to creating. It ties you up in knots and forces you to look for an escape. But it also provides that escape. It gives you freedom to express your self, an outlet for your point of view of the world. Freedom to work out the joy and pain of every life through a lens so you don’t have to suffer alone.
Passion in your art gives your voice volume.
So, if you’ve never looked at your camera gear and thought you would rather puke on it than fire off the shutter one more time, I say it’s time you had a little one on one with yourself in the mirror and start figuring out the hard stuff. Come up with a project that will be emotionally difficult for you to complete. Get outside of your comfort zone. Make yourself sick.
It is a cleansing process. Growth rarely comes without suffering. So if you haven’t suffered at the hand of your work, my guess is you have plenty of room to grow.