One of the things that plagues me as a photographer is that I think too much and don’t shoot enough. I think about what camera I should use, whether I should shoot film or digital, and what project I should work on. But all of this thinking leads to “paralysis by analysis”– I think so much that I end up getting nothing done.
Writer’s and Photographer’s Block
How many other ways is our life ruined because we overthink and over analyze things? Even as a writer, I am constantly fighting “writers block” because I put too much pressure on myself. I always tell myself that my new article or blog post needs to be better than the one prior. All of this pressure leads me to become disabled and debilitated; I end up just doing nothing.
But honestly what always gets me out of bed is to stay in motion. To continue “striking the iron while it is hot” is a phrase that comes to mind. If we keep inertia, keep moving, it is easier to continue to work and hustle.
For example, I try to do some physical exercise everyday (whether that be push-ups, kettle bell swings, chin-ups, yoga, or deadlifts). I find after some physical activity, I feel more energized and invigorated — ready to take on the day.
Taking the first photo in a day is always the most challenging. That is why I try to keep it as simple as possible: I always have my digital Ricoh GR with me, keep it in “P” mode, autofocus center, ISO 1600. I literally just point and click, and try not to think too much while I’m shooting. I’ll do the thinking once I’m selecting my best photos.
With writing, I find the best way to be inspired is to read everyday. I just finished reading a few speeches and philosophical writings from Cicero which spurred some new ideas.
I also feel that conversation with strangers is another great way to stimulate new ideas. Strangers who are outside of our circle of friends have unique perspectives, and can enrich our view of the world.
Balancing thinking and “going with the flow”
I’m not saying you should never think when making photos. When you’re shooting, you want to think about having a clean background, good framing on the edges, and to “work the scene” to get the shot you want. You want to draw upon all your knowledge, inspiration, and experience from the past to make a good photo in the moment.
However I find it is finding that balance– not thinking too much, but also being open and free enough that you will let your instincts and gut lead the way.
Shoot more, worry less
“Shoot more, worry less.” – Walter Margerison
I came across this quote by my buddy Walter. It rings true to me.
Sometimes I also worry about whether a certain image will add to my “body of work”, whether my “career” as a photographer is heading in the right direction, or what others will think about my images.
Let us shoot more, and worry less.
- Shoot and worry less about the result; whether it is “good” or not.
- Shoot and worry less about how many followers you have or how many “likes” you will get on an image.
- Shoot and worry less about whether your subject will get angry at you or not.
Life is stressful enough as it is; photography should be removing stress and anxiety from our lives— rather than adding complications and worry to our lives.
Everything will be okay
For a long time as a photographer, I would worry too much. I would worry whether my followers would “unfollow” me if I said something controversial or polarizing. I would be afraid to reveal my “true voice” (crude, vulgar at times, but honest) because that wasn’t what was “expected” of me on the online blogosphere.
I would worry that nobody would sign up for my workshops, and I would become broke.
I would worry that I wasn’t making enough progress in my photography; and just doing the same thing over and over again.
But the funny thing in life is this: everything works out okay in the end. What is the point and purpose of worrying? Worrying or stressing doesn’t fix anything in our lives. The only way is to trust and love fate; “amor fati” — and know that at the end of the day, you’re on the right path.
We’re all in the same boat; I’m constantly struggling, and so are you. But it brings me great happiness to know that we’re paddling in this same boat together.