Are You Hitting the Wall?

When we first start learning photography is seems like we are learning new things and drastically growing every week but as we progress in our art, learning new and interesting ways to communicate our imagery gets harder and harder and the quantum leaps we use to experience with our skill level turn into small incremental baby steps towards the pursuit of excellence.

Usually every 2-3 years, many of us start hitting a wall. Our imagery starts to feel a bit stale and we just can’t seem to create anything new. There are so many ways to grow with our photography…

  • Lighting
  • Posing
  • Composition
  • Post Processing
  • Styling or Themed shoots with a story

Each one of these areas takes years of practice in order for us to develop our skills to a point where we feel really happy with our work. It took me about 7 years of being a full time photographer until I felt really good about my work. I finally started putting things together- figuring out what I loved shooting and developing enough skills to execute my vision and signature style. I still find the need to grow with my photography and push myself to new levels, even when I feel stuck.

Hitting the Wall

Every artist runs up against the “wall” from time to time and we need something to spark and reignite our passion. I just love it when people write me from time to time and tell me that what I taught them has refueled their photography passion again. I love being the “spark”, the little piece of inspiration that gets photographers excited to pick up their camera again.

I’ve been consumed with TRYING to be a world class educator and helping other photographers find their groove. However sometimes it is hard for me to devote time to continue to develop my art. So many things seem to prevent us from taking the time to develop our art, even if we are a full time photographer. There seems to be never enough hours in the day- can I get an “Amen” out there?

Success a bad thing?

Ironically, success has a way of filling our wallet but leaving our soul empty with creativity. We get so busy taking care of our business, our clients, working to pay our bills, etc. It hardly leaves us any time to personally develop our art. I tend to believe that we are most creative when we are least “successful” from a financial point of view. It takes a great deal of time to reinvent ourselves. Then add family and relational commitments into the mix- we find it hard just to keep our head above water. (sidebar: an international workshop is a great way to break away and carve out some time for ourselves to rejuvenate and get inspired again! see link)

Finding New Toys

This week I had some time to experiment with my post processing and I came across a new method on how to process my images. Although most people will not even notice the difference in my images, this discovery inspired me and I started to act like a child discovering a new favorite toy… staying up late hours playing, knowing full well I would only get a few hours of sleep the next day… but I didn’t care. Our addiction to our new found inspiration is too strong and we start to feel alive again. We must feel this passion with our work from time to time or our art will slowly die and we will stop growing.

If you find that you are hitting the “wall”, go to your well of inspiration, keep pushing forward even if you think nothing is making a difference. Stay hungry for knowledge, open your heart and be inspired. Do something physical, many times this will spark new creative ideas. I remember getting stuck creatively and going out to throw a football around, can’t tell you how many times that has helped me. Find a muse. Make an effort to dedicate some time for yourself allowing you to think creatively with no pressure. This is really hard to do when business gets good.

Don’t Be Afraid

Are you risking anything emotionally with your work? Do you have skin in the game? In order for our imagery to have impact, we must put something on the line… we must take an emotional risk and try something different the world has never seen…this is risky and scary. We are all unique individuals and we must not be afraid to show our true colors even if we risk NOT being popular. Don’t worry if no one “likes” your work on Facebook. We must learn to uniquely express ourselves and sometimes that means being ahead of the times, being the odd man out. But in the end it is all worth it- we find ourselves and we feel content with our work no matter what others think.

Keep the Faith

Have faith that if we are relentless in our pursuit, the spark, the motivation, the inspiration will eventually come. There is no excellence without passion and there is no passion without inspiration so it is imperative that we find it!

I worked on a new way to feature my images with a new format. It falls in line with my fashion/editorial type of work that I like. Thanks for letting me share this with you!

July 2, 2012 - 4:38 am

Eric James Leffler - Great read Scott! Your words and work are inspiring!

July 2, 2012 - 11:40 am

Smashing Reflections - Just what I needed to hear! Thanks for giving of yourself and sharing your passion and struggle. And your LOVE for your craft! Will you be at Texas School this next go around?

July 2, 2012 - 12:12 pm

admin - Love Texas School but not too sure of my schedule yet. Thanks so much for your kind comments and I’m glad I was able to help!

July 10, 2012 - 2:11 pm

Jay - Love the editing! Great skin tone!

July 15, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Libby - Thanks a always for lovely images and bit of inspiration. Your efforts are always appreciated.

I see you are using the Sony A77. That’s a nice tool. I ave been experimenting all this summer i micro four thirds land and digital infrared and I’m having a good time with it. I was going out less and less with a camera because I just didn’t want to haul DSLRs. I feel liberated 😉

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