In pursuit of beauty

After months of feeling totally uninspired, photographically speaking, I’m back on track again, leaning in a slightly different direction. I wonder if you too are looking for something new for inspiration?

For each of us, I’m sure it will be a different story, but for me, I think the reason I’ve been struggling with my photography is a lack of specific direction and inner purpose. Somewhere over the last year or so, I’ve lost the reason I take pictures, and I know that shows in my images. It’s been very discouraging and frustrating, but I think I may have found my way out ….

And I’d like to share it with you, because I think all of us who are Creatives, artists in the deepest sense, no matter where we fit in the spectrum of artistic recognition or ‘worldly success’, those of us who are pulled by an inexplicable need to create artistically, know the feeling of emptiness and loss when that flow of creativity becomes stale or stops completely.

But if we just hang on, not giving up, doing our art in whatever small ways we can manage, if we just leave the door open a tiny bit, the light will still seep in and one day, when we are ready, inspiration opens the door.

Two wonderful authors helped me open that door, both on the same morning, both while reading their newsletters which led me to their blogs.

David duChemin , World and Humanitarian Photographer & Author, writes that if we are unhappy with our art, if we want more depth, more meaning, more feeling…. more of that ‘something’ that we are missing….. then instead of shooting everything we see – pick one thing and then study that, master it, own it!

Find a Theme and commit to it!

Every day, spend time with that theme. Make it a part of who you are. Narrow it down and refine it over and over, in an endless process of going deeper.

So – I choose Beauty! Beauty will be my Theme, indefinitely. Beauty and I will attempt to know each other well and I will see where She leads me….

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Shawna Lemay, Canadian author & poet, on her blog, Transactions With Beauty, writes in this delightful post: You Are Required to Make Something Beautiful,

“How you live a single day is how you live your life.  And if this is so, then I will live my day looking for beauty, though it is insignificant, though no eye ever will shine on those things I write, and see, and make.”

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It’s possible that Beauty as a Theme will be too general, too unfocused, too subjective …. but for now, this feels like a good starting point, a good place to begin to go deeper into what I want my photography to express and why it matters.

In another newsletter by David (which I can’t find anywhere now!!) he suggests we simplify even more by setting limits, honing it down, getting very specific in the way we ‘do’ our craft and express our Theme. His suggestion: commit to finishing 12 pictures a week and spending 5 minutes on each picture, then calling it done.

Post it, print it, file it – share it. Done. Move on.

I think this discipline is another change I need to make. So with a little modification, keeping in mind my own habits and limitations, I am committing to 6 pictures a week and a time limit of 10 minutes a picture. You are my witness!

(I will do my best to break the habit of ‘polishing turds’ as David says – wasting time and creative energy by trying to create a good photo from a not-so-good-but-can’t-delete-it photo. I have to admit this often crosses the line into addiction!)

So … I have 6 pictures to share, each done in less than 10 minutes (well, almost!). Seeking Beauty in the lovely moments of spring unfolding on the Prairies, so easy to do …. for now….

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I wonder if you have felt the same, struggling with that feeling of excitement when the camera, or the paintbrush, or the pen is in your hand and then finding only a sense of emptiness and frustration when it seems there is no outcome and nothing inside wants to come out….

I wonder how you dealt with it? Did it pass in it’s own time? Was there someone who inspired you to move through it? Are you still stuck there, waiting for it to pass or pretending that it doesn’t matter?

Ah … that creative process! If only it’s mysteries were more easily understood, but then – where would we find the magic?

‘Til next time,
Wishing you endless sparks of creativity,
Janet

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Enjoying photography & blogging in my retirement.

6 thoughts on “In pursuit of beauty

  1. I find this to be so true. For me I find that I go through times when I don’t find anything that inspires me and than suddenly I’ll see a photograph, or read a word that ignites a spark and this takes me in a completely new direction. Love your photos.

    1. Thank you, Masha… 🙂
      Inspirations strikes me in exactly the same way! And it can be so exciting when it happens… wishing you many ‘sparks of inspiration!

  2. It is definitely difficult to maintain the same level of commitment to one’s photography all the time. For me, it is at least partly because we are no longer doing much traveling, so I am not seeing new things. I’ve had to commit to “go” somewhere just in my local area to photography something in order to keep myself inspired. When I was just starting out in photography some years ago, I went somewhere every single day, even if it was only to photograph a tree or plant that I was aware of in my neighborhood. At that time, the “dailies” on smugmug were REALLY dailies. I needed to take at least one photo a day (and I generally took many more than that) in order to post one every day on the dailies. That discipline was very good for me and for many others, I think.

    1. I totally agree, Judy…. it is so difficult to remain committed and inspired, especially without new environments to explore, especially with long winters that feel like the ‘same old, same old’. I really miss the Daily Photos (when they were really dailies!) and I don’t remember ever lacking inspiration then, the way I do now. Perhaps it is simply the discipline that’s missing now… and maybe I’m hoping to find that by creating some new ‘rules’ again…. maybe you should join me? Maybe you need something entirely new to get the juices really flowing again… like a blog to share your photos??

  3. So true! I feel that the darkness of winter is a natural time for the creative juices to slow (or seem to stop), and now with spring and the movement of life/growth/the most creative process it is time to ‘awaken’ again.

    1. Oh yes! Such a natural time to ‘awaken’ and feel that wonderful creative flow …. you are so right! I hope you are letting your own creative juices flow today & enjoying this first delicious long weekend of the summer… xoxo

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