For the past two or maybe even two and a half years I’ve had a photographer’s block. Somewhere along the way it had got so bad that I haven’t touched my dearly beloved camera for about 6 months, and barely had taken it out of its sleeping bag the year before that. I haven’t even read my favorite photographers’ blogs for a really, really long time. The only device I take pictures with nowadays is my iPhone.
There are days when I feel like looking at other photographers’ work. Usually I go and look, but often find myself analyzing the subjects instead of lighting, lenses, and post-processing. The moments when I really look at the photographs had become very rare. Most of the times I don’t care about it though. But sometimes it frightens me more than the actual block – how did I get to a place where I don’t care to learn how a single photograph was taken? Where I don’t care to go and use what I’ve learned on practice? What would be left of me, if the photography was taken out?
But there would be a lot of things, I answer myself. Aside from all the life challenges and duties, there are no less than five other hobbies that I love dearly, and that define me as a person that I am. I knit, I sew, I bake, I try to make jewelry and other beautiful things to bring joy both to myself and to the people I love and care about. But the photography has always been something essential.
It was already there when I was 12 and learned that an old and creepy looking manual film camera can produce a picture a hundred times better than a modern compact one. It was there when I was running around taking pictures with said camera, not caring at all if someone laughed at me because of that. Even though I hadn’t learned all the technical stuff yet, I still liked the process.
The next time I took an SLR film camera in my hands was when I was 17. And then I already knew what I was doing. I had a better camera, better lens, a small stash of black and white film, and was freely operating with aperture and shutter speed numbers. I used to take my friend out for a little so called photo shoots, which mostly consisted of walking to a deserted parts of town and taking nice or sometimes fun pictures of one another. I even used to meet up with a college classmate who was interested in photography as well, to walk around the city and take some pictures with him. That probably had something to do with me liking that boy, but in the end of the day, the photography was what really mattered.
Then Dad, trying as usual to inspire me to go on, had bought me my film Minolta as well as the few Minolta lenses. Those were simple and cheep ones, but it kept me interested and motivated, and though nothing really good has come of it, I was so inspired that I often took short trips to the beautiful parts of the city to find something interesting to shoot. As the time went by, my life was changing, I was changing, but no matter where I was and what I did, my camera often was there with me, capturing different moments of my life.
But it all got really serious only when I’ve bought a DSLR camera. The idea of taking endless amount of pictures without paying for processing the films and printing the pictures was consuming. Looking back, I now understand that for the first few month I hadn’t even thought about what and how I was shooting, I just pushed the button. And then pushed it again, and again, and again… What remained of it is good for remembering how Andrew was growing up during the first year of his life, but really not good for anything else) When that first fever was gone though, and I started to look and analyze and learn what I was doing, the inspiration, the ideas, the knowledge – it all came over me like a tidal wave. I was hooked.
I’d spent all my days taking pictures or processing it. I took my camera with me everywhere, everywhere I went. I took pictures of all of my friends, of all their children, of all the meetings, and parties, and walks. And the best part of it was the reaction of my friends, who got to have nice pictures out of my obsession. Their joy over my pictures was what kept me going farther, trying new things, learning from my own mistakes and from work of others. It was all I wanted to do in life. It brought me happiness.
The first traces of block appeared in early 2009, when suddenly the amount of my inspiration has reduced considerably. I tried changing perspective and took a studio photography class. Can’t say that it had helped a lot, but at least I had some practice and in the months that followed I did a few photo shoots with my friends who trusted me not to fail. I kept on shooting outdoors as well, and in October 2009 I did one of my best outdoors photo shoots. I think that shoot alone got me going for another several months. But the block was positively taking over me. First I stopped shooting people, except for the closest ones. I found myself doing more and more ‘still life’ pictures. Somehow, I didn’t like watching people and their emotions as I used to. I liked keeping my photography to myself. I still took pictures often though, but as the time passed, my shoots quickly turned to be very occasional. Because, to my horror, but at the same time to my comfort, I just didn’t want to shoot. At all.
I haven’t touched (touched – not used) my camera since my trip to Georgia this April. I’d brought Natalie’s new Canon home with me, and I knew I could now officially transfer the ‘family photographer’ title to her. What I mentally did as soon as I could. The months that followed were really refreshing. I finally got rid of the little voice inside my mind that used to bug me about not having a single picture of my son growing up. Now Natalie gladly did the job, and Andrew was acting surprisingly better in front of her camera than in front of mine. Whenever I needed a nice picture taken, I went to Natalie, and she and her Canon took it for me. I processed some of those pictures myself, but didn’t give a second thought to it afterwards. I made a decision to give up all the photography-related stuff for good.
And when I finally did, I suddenly started to find traces of desire to shoot something. Maybe it was because my mind had rested, maybe it was because I’d somehow changed, or maybe my photographic vision had evolved enough for me to see things differently. I’ve decided to try it out, and this Wednesday Natalie and I went for a walk into nearby woods with a purpose to take some pictures. I needed to take pictures of the two of my finished knitting projects, and Wednesday weather was sunny and warm just enough to get me out and looking for good light among the beautiful fall colored trees.
I took almost no pictures myself, but I did my best to find the location, to analyze the light, and to try to get the result I wanted. We started shooting with Natalie’s Canon with 18-135mm lens, but quickly changed it to my long forgotten Sony, because neither of us know how to get what we want from that modern advanced Canon camera yet – with Sony we got more success))
And I remembered exactly how much I love my camera and my lenses. How much I love my favorite Sigma 28mm, which always gives the perfect angle and the perfect flares. I’m sure this lens alone might break the block, if I let it. We had a wonderful time walking in the woods, I guess it did us both much good, at least in terms of the fresh air and exercise. And I had so much pleasure after, sorting and processing the pictures. I’ve got motivated so much I wrote three pages long post to go with my pictures. Lets hope it’s not going to be the last time.
So, the pictures (first two are the only ones taken with Canon). Please admire Natalie’s talent to make me look pretty))
And not to forget about the sweater! This is my new lovely ‘Narragansett’ by Thea Colman. The pattern can be found here on Ravelry.
Don’t you just love this slipped stitch cable which details the raglan and the sleeves? I wish I had more yarn to make the sleeves a bit longer just for the sake of those cables.
My second project was my first shawl, knitted from the Mom’s long forgotten goat’s down yarn. It was a birthday gift for Natalie’s Mom, the last moment idea, a really good one, and the ‘Little Shells’ pattern by Holly Griffin-Weidner was just right for it. It’s very quick and easy, and the original pattern makes much smaller shawl than I made, so it might be a perfect life-saver when you need to make a gift in the matter of one day. I’m really glad Aunt Nina liked it, and I hope it’ll keep her warm in the cold winter months that are soon to follow.
And here’s my little contribution. I have to say I have got much more slow when it comes to taking pictures, I only don’t know whether it’s just the lack of practice, or some new gained thoughtfulness (I wish), that makes me push the button only after a considerable amount of time spent shifting position, adjusting angle, and waiting for the just right cloud to cover the sun, because otherwise I just don’t like what I see. Need to try it again sometimes, I guess. Just to see what may come out of it.
Have a good day, everyone!