I’ve been in a rut for about three years now. Maybe four. It’s hard to tell when photography started feeling more like work and gradually became less satisfying. It’s not that I don’t love photography, I do. It’s just that, well, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve taken a good picture.
Life gets in the way of being a photographer. No matter how you to look at it, unless you are fortunate enough to be independently wealthy and don’t have to worry about money, life will somehow manage to get in the way. If you are a professional photographer, all of a sudden you are shooting to live. You need to make money off of your work, whether through print and stock sales or via commissioned assignments. Even if you like the work you do, you still rely on it, it still becomes a means to an end. If you aren’t a pro, and photography is just a hobby instead of a full time job, then your full time job absorbs huge amounts of your time and energy, making it difficult to get out and shoot as much as you’d like. No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, life, or rather making enough money to live life independently, gets in the way.
When I started getting “serious” about photography, I was in college. I was a full time student, I went to classes a few days a week for a few hours a day. I worked some, on campus, and that paid my bills. My mom was kind enough to pay for my tuition and housing, so I only needed enough money to eat, put gas in my car, pay my cell phone bill and car insurance, and chip in for utilities and internet. Anything left over went into a savings account. I had plenty of free time, and I was dating another photographer at the time, so I was shooting plenty. My life was pretty manageable. I was happy.
After college, my own version of the real world hit with a vengeance. I’ll spare you the details, but between working as many a ten jobs in four states in a given year, being a full time graduate student, and volunteering way too much because I’m a passionate person/an overachiever and I just can’t seem to help myself, photography has fallen to the wayside. I still shoot, but not as much as I want to, and these days, I’ve been doing a lot of contract work instead of shooting just for me. Rarely do I create a photograph that I get excited about anymore. It’s a sad, sad reality. My rut is the symptom of a much bigger problem – I’ve been putting incredible stress on myself these past few years.
So this summer, I’ve resolved to cut back, to take a break, and to find myself again. I’m not a workaholic, or at least I don’t have to be. I can relax, I deserve to. So, this summer is about me, about having fun, and doing the things I love to do. I’m going to pay outside, explore, and take pictures, not because those activities pay the bills, but because they are my passion. Just thinking about it already makes me feel a little bit lighter and more free.
So expect good things this summer, because they are going to happen. I can just feel it.