“You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.”
-Lewis Carol, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
When we lose our joy in this business, we also lose a bit of ourselves. I don’t just mean a creative block, I mean that dim morning when you wake up and question whether you are meant for this or not. As artists, our personalities are tied to the feeling of inspiration and feeling washed up can royally screw with our lives.
Am I hitting on something familiar? I feel you. I’ve been there. We instinctively know that people aren’t just investing in an incredible product, they’re investing in an incredible person who can deliver quality imagery with integrity. We feel it hard because we don’t feel like a person that someone can believe & invest in. We’ve lost our “muchness”.
Losing joy can ruin your experience as a photographer and turn a once-passion into a living hell. I wish I could give you Hannah’s Miracle Salve for Chapped Creativity but unfortunately, this journey is unique to each soul. It’s up to you to search within yourself and be honest about how you feel, and what you’re lacking. But I can share with you the biggest things that pulled me through.
You can’t create anything you haven’t experienced
Consider a chef’s menu: They can create their masterful meals because they know the ingredients intimately. Every texture you touch, every song you hear, every emotion that touches you and every color you perceive is used to create your images. When I watch my birds take cute baths and snuggle with each other on their perches, those warm fuzzy feelings settle into a quiet place in my mind and begin to evolve. When I taste something sweet and rich, see a flower backlit by the sun, meet a new person or have a wild nightmare, it evolves in the hidden places of my soul and comes together to form my artistic visions.
When did you last spend some time with like-minded artists? Blow bubbles in your chocolate milk? Go to an art gallery or the zoo just for the hell of it? Take the initiative. Change up your environment. Try new food, and talk to the server. Take a weekend trip and just drive somewhere new. Visit a tack shop and smell the saddle leather. It can be as simple as making more time to be with your kids, or as bold as taking a month off from work and backpacking across Europe (I said yes to the latter; my bank account said no).
Be real with other artists
We are way too busy comparing ourselves to the Iceland weddings & who got featured where. We need to reach out and be honest with other people about where we are at, and also be receptive to other people’s struggles. Without support, where is the magic of this career? Who are you going to share your vision with? There are a lot of snobs in the community but there are also a lot of gems. Find those gems, form connections, and shake off some of the weight you’ve carried.
Invest in your personal visions and create new experiences to draw from. We have so much going on and so many things draining our resources, we often forget to stop and renew our perspectives. It’s a damn shame that when we turn our creativity into a career, we actually lose the time we need to feed ourselves spiritually. Somewhere in the chaos, we have to create time for ourselves and allow those experiences to take root in our souls and influence the way we dream. And remember, you are not alone. Reach out to other photographers and be real about what you feel. What will you create once you’ve gotten you muchness back? I want to see it. Let’s chat about your journey & let’s help others move forward, too.