Where am I going? What am I doing?

I’m at a really strange place with photography right now. I feel very lost; I don’t know what I am doing or where I am going with it. It’s been bothering me for weeks — I don’t have any direction & people seem hell bent on making it into work for me. I didn’t get into photography for financial gain or acclaim. I got into it so I would have a free, relaxed, creative outlet outside of the design world in which I work. I am more than happy being a designer for my day job & I don’t feel I need or want photography to enter into that.

I don’t really know what to do with myself to get out of this funk, I don’t particularly want to do another Photo-A-Day project (Like my 365 or Fifty of Fifty), but maybe some sort of other project would be good for me? Something that focuses less on time & more on a particular image aspect or style but still applies a little presser. Or maybe it’s my last project that has made me feel like this & I need to just step back from it all. I could maybe even just shoot film for a few months… But then I work well under pressure, I even relish it blah. Getting an MFA degree is a good idea to help me get out of this rut but I’m still undecided about it.

Without some sort of direction it just doesn’t feel right, but right now I don’t think I’m able to choose a direction so I’m floating. I fear that’s making me feel slightly apathetic toward it. This is all just me thinking out loud I guess but if anyone has any thoughts or opinions I’d love to hear them.

I’m going to London on Thursday for a long weekend away, bit of casual shooting, coffee & good company might do me some good.

Comments

  • Dude, I am so with you.
    I have been struggling to find a project for months now.

  • One idea might be to revisit your 365 photos. Maybe have a look through and pick X number of them that now you have progressed you could take again but produce a much better image. No time constraints, no deadlines, but lot’s of option and ideas.

  • Know the feeling too.. – I’ve done live music photography for years now.. I do it for fun, not for a job, and Love it when I’m doing it.. but at the moment.. I just dont know where to go with it.. I even think I’m even losing my love for being behind the lens :( Hurts me to even say that!

    M

  • I’m right there with you – I get asked a lot if I’m planning on becoming a professional photographer now, just cause I’ve been doing it for a few months, to which my response is always the same. No, I’m a total noob, and photography is just for fun – I don’t want anything from it.

    In my experience when you start having to do something, you start enjoying it less. I used to love music more than life itself… until I started studying it and working in the industry. Then it became a total chore. I used to enjoy doing any type of web design, but since working in the industry for a few years I now resent a great deal of the work I do and only really enjoy (in the true sense) the work which I do for myself.

    On the basis… I think I always want to use photography as a creative outlet, and preferably nothing more.

    In terms of direction, I’d say you need a challenge of some sort but not one that’s going to tie you into scheduling – but is going to push you to think more about your photographs.

    http://cl.ly/2ZiH

  • Kym

    I agree with John, why not go for a project that pushes you to think about images but isn’t so taxing on your personal and work life. If you don’t feel like you want to take on another massive project like Fifty Fifty then that probably means you are still exhausted from it.

    I quite like Matt’s idea of revisiting photographs or ideas, too.

    I’m a bit lost with photography right now too, which I put down to the change of seasons/weather which greatly effects my moods and wellbeing. Plus, more often than not, it hinders opportunities to take photos… I like taking photos of people, and people don’t like standing out in the rain etc etc. I am sure you have the same problems here?

    I know you work well under pressure, I’ve seen you doing it, but I think you can still apply enough pressure to yourself in different projects that don’t involve taking photos everyday.

    “I got into it so I would have a free, relaxed, creative outlet outside of the design world in which I work.”

    – A free, relaxed, creative outlet seems to be the sole reason why you, myself, and everyone else who has commented got into photography. I think we all need to chill out and stop overthinking it and just remember this reason… the rest will probably come naturally.

  • Oli

    Hey Rick,

    Although far from being at your level, I think I can understand what you mean and how it makes you feel.

    Here’s an idea for you that should challenge you but in a nice way (I think so anyway).

    I gathered you like music and you like photography… How about picking an artist or album or handful of songs that really move you and try to visually represent them…

    I thought about starting this myself… I love Jimi Hendrix for example and I thought I’d try to take pictures that could illustrate some of his songs. Titles like Bold as Love, Crosstown traffic, Manic depression, Little wing…. And the list goes on.

    Don’t give yourself timeline but concentrate on the content. Object you can use, places you could go, people you could shoot…

    Do you see what I mean? I think we’ll all agree that you know how to use your camera and how to compose a great shot but maybe taking the role of an “art director” might give you a breath of fresh air?

    Another idea… How do you feel about passing some of your knowledge on? I’m sure a lot of people would love to learn from ricknunnoftheinternet :) Might not be your thing though… Just a thought.

    Right, back to work now.

  • Rick,
    I believe they are lots of people who are on the same boat with you. It was started as hobby but somehow the progress grows beyond what I thought and lots of people are asking me to turn it as professional full time job while I’m still working as full time programmer. Lately, I’ve been working with lots of pictures and somehow I got a feeling that I’m loosing my creativity because I keep doing the same thing for months without letting fresh air comes in.

    I forgot where I heard or read this (I forgot the exact word):
    You need to like your job so you will be creative at work but turning hobby into a job will kill creativity because of mundane thing and financial gain mind set.
    I’ve been debating myself if this is true.

    Not sure if this the right answer, turn a hobby as part time job. Do it whenever you feel you want it, otherwise go outside and have some fun. Like Kym said, “…the rest will probably come naturally”.

  • Teach me, O Great One. How about a knowledge transfer. Some tutorials maybe??

  • One of the things that I have always liked about you (since I started following your work) is your transparency. It’s refreshing to read that someone who seems as talented as you can have the occasional off day.

    And honestly, I bet that’s all this is. Or maybe a series of off days. You’ll figure out what you want from your photography soon enough, you just haven’t found the right inspiration yet. And maybe you need sort of an anti-project, where you just shoot the things that move or inspire you, as you discover them.

    But I don’t know. All I do know is that you’ll find your way, and that I will be very interested to see what form it all takes. I just hope your camera can be mostly a vector for pleasure rather than frustration for you.

  • Its strange. As all said, turning a hobby into a job is never good. Still I guess it´s Ok to accept photography-jobs when you like the project.
    So you may pick the projects that inspire you the most and do them.

    For everything else, just take your camera with you an keep on shooting for yourself, as an creative outlet & hobby.

    For myself the camera can be frustrating (how about taking your camera to some place and not take one good picture while friends of you shoot the whole film?). But most time its a lot of fun, as you never stop learning. And I have to learn a lot.

  • I would echo Oli’s project ideas. Look beyond the usual flickr concepts. Avoid something OF something, daily projects.

    Be proud of what what you’ve got and how quickly your skills have progressed. You seem to be the master of location, you have a steady stream of great models, great lighting techniques and you’re very popular on all the right the right websites. Most people would kill for all this.

    You’re a young-un with natural skills… imagine what you’ll be presenting by time you’re 40!

  • Hey Rick, Don’t worry about it. Relax and enjoy being rudderless for a while and see where it takes you. Your work is great, when you feel ready come back to it.

  • How about wrong-focusing as a subject? I.e. setting up a scene, then changing the point of focus to something unobvious like part of the foreground or the background, throwing the obvious subject into defocus.

    Just an idea I’m playing with…

    Dave

  • I’ve been pretty crap & not replied to this… so I’ve decided I don’t wanna do another project, I’m just taking photos whenever I am in the mood, or whenever there is something interesting to shoot. It’s working out ok for me, I still don’t have much direction, but at the moment I am ok with that. :)

  • How about some more How I Shoot series..

  • Maybe don’t do any projects at all. Leave that camera at home and forget about it for a little while. Like you say, you don’t do it for financial gain or anything but purely for enjoyment.

    Don’t feel bad about not shooting, if your heart’s not in it at this current time then dont worry, it’ll come back after a little break.

    I like to think of creativity as a sponge, after a lot of squeezing it becomes dry and needs a fresh soak.

  • I’m right there with ya! I work as in corporate training and development by day and I love it. Photography and design are my creative outlets. I tried working as a web developer professionally and I hated it. Did for five years and then got out, doing it as a job killed the fun for me.

  • Ok so you’ve got the whole tortured artist thing happening, no direction bla, bla, bla….. Well here’s some direction:
    1. You have more talent than any one person should be given.
    2. Those not gifted with your abilities need what you have.
    3. I am training people in 3rd world countries to build profit making web sites so they can get out of poverty and up skill so they don’t have to sell themselves for$2.22 per hour link building.

    It is 5am in the land of Aussie and these projects have me out of bed a working flat out.
    Now I’m no saint I will make money as well and so should you. Take a look at my web site and just imagine what just a few of your ‘happy snaps’ could do!!!!!

  • Craig Harley Rider

    space cakes what you need