Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Learning II

I got a message on MM about the following:

Anyway, Im currently going through a phase where I don't like most of my photos. Everything just seems eh to me. It may be partly because I always strive to get better and humbled everyday by photographers like you, and partly because I get bored of things quickly.

Do you ever go through this? One of your blog posts led me to believe you may go through something like this..and if so do you do anything about it? I'm fighting between the side that wants to get rid of all my work and start fresh and the side that wants to keep everything and continue on with my journey. I thought you would have something insightful to say . Love to hear your thoughs....

I utilize a mix of experimentation and influence = inspiration. I suppose that means that 90% of my inspiration comes from within and 10% of my inspiration comes from external sources. I am unlike many photographers because I actually limit my intake of "stuff". Looking at too many pictures belonging to other photographers usually either discourages me or confuses me. Here's a
post on influences.

I think you are wise to weigh both sides of the equation when it comes to knowing where you've come from and starting over per se. It's why I call my flickr album The Journey and I don't pull the older pictures. That being said, I am my biggest critic and looking at any of my pictures older than 2-3 months makes me cringe. I suppose that's what keeps us growing.

There's a fine balance between "half-empty" and "half-full". If we're always "half-full" then there's no reason to grow. But if we're always "half-empty" then we're not satisfied with anything which might cause us to quit or commit suicide. Ideally what you want to do is be *sometimes* half-full so you can appreciate your personal growth and the achievements/accomplishments you've made to acknowledge that you've made great strides in this field. This allows you to cut yourself enough slack to be temporarily happy and also reflect on the knowledge you've gained. The assimilation of information into knowledge is critical to learning. Perhaps the half-full part is what is necessary for the next segment of rapid growth? Which is exactly what half-empty is... it's the surge of dissatisfaction that allows us to push ourselves to change and grow in uncomfortable ways. To seek new ways of doing old things. Which you should *sometimes* also be... half-empty. Being able to be both half-empty and half-full is the balance that I seek :)

When I've got a good groove going, everything is exciting and everything is fresh and I want to try new things and everything just seems to work. Nothing feels forced and I feel like I'm creativity heaven. This usually implies not being rushed with work and not overcommitting to more work than I can chew. But understanding that all good things come to an end and that the end is necessary for a new beginning is the key to your next segment of exponential growth. As hard as it is, it's imperative that you remind yourself of that so you don't get overtly frustrated.

Then there are the things that always seem to work. Mix it up. Go outside. Go inside. Buy some gear. Borrow some gear. Phone a friend and ask him/her to assist on a shoot. Shoot an incredible model. All of these things can potentially get you out of a rut. Especially shooting an incredible model :)

Anyway I'm happy to assist with any questions you have about this subject. The key is to keep shooting and keep growing... at a sustainable pace. Speaking of ruts, I'm almost in a rut right now. But I'm just going to wait it out because I am hammered with work anyway :)


  1. good answer, made me think about my creative process.. thanks.

  2. I read a line on the chace jarvis blog that sometimes helps when I'm in a rut "push your comfort level to grow" Meaning that do something out of your confort zone in order to grow, in order to do that you need to keep shooting look for stuff you've never tried before.

    I also have a little notepad files of ideas that I want to try, although if I don't push myself I don't try them at all LOL

    Also something that helps sometimes is to have photographer friends who are starting, they can give you insight on stuff you didn't even know was out there, for example: a friend of mine found some videos of Dean Collins, and wow I started looking at them and I was blown away by some pretty simple setups that did very cool results (although the videos are old about 1984) what I saw about light got me lots of "duh" moments where I though "why didn't I think of that, now I have to try it myself"

  3. I just finished teaching a workshop this past weekend and I brought the photographers to a spot that I have shot several times. The way they used this spot and their interaction with their surroundings blew me away because they did things I would have never thought to do! :) Cheers!