As photographers, we can be inspired by many things before clicking the shutter on a scene or subject to capture a moment in time. It could be the light falling on a scene or the look in someone’s eyes. Our inspiration as Artists is endless. However, what is not talked about a lot is how our Inspirations can be blocked and we feel burned out at times. Its much like Writers Block and is just as impeding and equally frustrating! I guess you could assign the term Photographers Block to be completely obvious on the topic.
Even photographers who LOVE their careers experience burnout. The good news? Burnout can be the catalyst for a more creative life!
Burnout tells you that you are spreading yourself too thin, sleeping too little, and struggling too hard. It reminds you that you’re a human being with real psychological and physiological limitations – and that it’s okay to say no.
Let’s take a REAL MOMENT right now and let me tell you the past 10 years have been CRAZY TRAIN for me. I am definitely someone who loves peace and quiet. I feel like I might pull my hair out when there is clutter in my life, my house or studio. When change happens, I literally get sick in my stomach and have to really take a moment to pull it together. So when I say Crazy Train, I mean a lot has happened and really fast. I know life does not slow down for anyone, but each year I look at all the parts of my life and really cull out a lot of the distractions, extras and take time to breath. Basically I am making myself focus and find peace. I am not sure I could unpack everything that has occurred in my years as a Professional Photographer along side the big changes in our family/personal life, but I can give you a few highlights.
A is for Alone: I was not jumping out to create my studio alone, but honestly it felt like it many times over the past 10 years. I threw all my creativity and love for people into hours of education on how to photograph the best images, capture the most authentic expressions, and learn hours and hours of photoshop (I am still learning). Why did I feel alone? A lot of Photographers are a one person show. We do everything. My husband is my IT guy, my rant partner (whether he wants to be or not), my second shooter at Weddings when needed, my build guy for the props I need…. However, I missed having someone to banter back and forth with when creating and pulling out my ideas. I have had a lot of wonderful Photographers be friendly with me. I have also had the ugly side of our industry where competition gets in the way and the gross attitudes, lies and destructive nature of our human side comes out. I spent some time feeling like I needed to justify or explain online my side of things so many times in order to clear my name. The attack was just jealousy because at that time I was part of a smaller group of Photographers in the United States taking our Photography Industry/Culture to a new level. What did I learn from all of the DRAMA? I learned how to keep my mouth shut, let my work speak for itself, and learn to be okay with not everyone loving me. It truly is okay. So cheer up if you are feeling alone. You will find those along the way who will be true and supportive.
B is for Babies: Yes, everyone who has ever brought their babies to me to photograph will have a resounding yes that I love babies, children and families. I love everything that my images represent when I view them later in galleries for my clients. This also means I get really attached to your families and stories that we capture together. I genuinely care how you are all doing as you move on after sessions with me. I think it’s the same way Teacher’s feel when they have a classroom for a year and the children move on to the next grade. You just fall in love. I have had to really adjust my expectations over the past several years. I felt like even though I was having a good influx of new clients, I was missing clients who decided to move on due to actually moving too far away, finding a new photographer for price or just because, and my studio kept MOVING around. Sorry everyone, but life happens. I seriously had a wild ride with studio moves in 10 years. Some of it was because I needed a bigger space. The first studio I had was out of a room in my Mom’s house. Yes you read that right. Then I moved into a commercial space. I moved to the next location because of the glorious window light and amazing high ceilings. I just LOVED my studio in downtown Lincoln. I actually cried when we decided to let that space go. Due to a potential job change for my husband, possible move out of state, and having a thief break in that cost me all my equipment. I was shoved in the direction to let that space go. I still miss it. So many of my clients over the years had their images taken there. There were a few other home studios mixed in there as I moved around too. It was wild. Then my husband settled into a new job a couple years ago and we bought a house locally. We converted the garage into a bonus type room that is my current studio. Its definitely not the size of the last big studio, but I love it. Because we own it. I need to make sure I have a post soon on it because we finally finished the ceiling, which means lights are finally working without the strobes being on. So many of you who have been through the studio in the past two years will understand that excitement. So until the next move, this is my studio.
C is for Crazy Competition – I will attest to the fact that having competition in a good healthy dose is good for small businesses. It causes us to push harder and dig a little deeper. We visited the Badlands out West on our big road trip this year. I was delighted to see little flowers and green grass growing in areas throughout the landscape. I assumed nothing grew there.
In the midst of adversity and competition, do not give up and let everyone run over you. Stand up and keep going. Take that grand step forward and decide that each day you will carry yourself with dignity, strength and determination. I have fought thoughts that maybe its time to just give up and let the million other photographers just run me over. Then I realized that is not me at all. I lead, I stand, I make the decision when and if I quit. I am keeping busy and my work is still sought after. So why give up because there is a little more competition in our industry?
Take a moment and focus. Breath and change your perspective. Ignore the mountain and focus on whats important in your life. The rest will fall into place as you choose to grow with it.