I recently had an opportunity to attend John Barclay’s Dream, Believe, Create workshop, in which John uses his own experience to illustrate his photographic journey. It was a very inspirational presentation and for those that have not attended his workshop I would highly recommend it since there is something in there for all photographers, from the rank amateur to the seasoned professional.
In my case I was able to draw parallels with the struggles that John describes in the transition from believing to creating. In particular John discusses the feeling of inadequacy that can occur when we question whether or not our work meets our own expectations or those of others. Such “demons” stifle creativity. I am sure that most, if not all artists feel this at some point in their growth and for sure this is very familiar territory to me. Although there are times when I feel that I am able to transcend such negative feelings the demons frequently return to remind me of their presence, especially when working on something new or unfamiliar.
One of the things that John suggests we do to ease the transition is to just keep on shooting. The idea being that the mechanics of art making eventually become natural, thereby giving us more opportunities to focus on the visual and creative elements. Although this makes tremendous sense, the ability to “keep on shooting” doesn’t fit entirely well with my ever demanding family and work life. Therefore, although an ideal solution, for me it is simply not achievable, which makes me frustrated, rapidly transitioning into a feeling of not being able to grow and eventually to the old demon of inadequacy. Although I try to maintain my creativity by just doing something “photographically”, such as studying the work of other photographers, working on my images, etc. I agree with John that this is only going to get you so far. However, the fact remains that I simply can’t get out and photograph as much as I would like.
With John’s presentation still fresh in my mind I was struck by the appropriateness of an article that I read in edition 93 of the Lenswork photography magazine. Brooks Jensen, the editor of the magazine wrote in his editorial column that in the real world the time we spend creating art is a compromise with other things that we have to take care of in our daily lives, which includes the mundane. Brooks argued that it is necessary to find a balance between what could be done in the “perfect world” and what can be done in the “real world” in which we live. This was powerful stuff. It made me think about my own frustration at not being able to get out and shoot as often as I would like and grow my creativity to transcend the feelings of inadequacy.
In thinking about this I realized that I would have to adapt my photography to fit my other activities and stop trying to fit my other activities into my photography. I feel this is a much more pragmatic approach. In the short time that I have been thinking about this I have started to conjure up photographic projects that would not require me to “go out and shoot”, but rather projects that I can do much closer to home and at times that fit with my daily schedule. I am very excited by this and more importantly I am looking forward to taking my photography to a new level. I want to believe in my ability to create.