Creativity without the Manic

Over the entire duration of my writing online, I have gone through many phases. I started out writing online like I would in a journal, expressing whatever emotions I had bottled up; frustration, sadness, anger, depression, confusion. From there I evolved to taking outfit images as a way to counteract my growing body hatred. For the past three years it's been a combination of self portraits and writing to reflect emotion. It’s been therapeutic and I have no doubt in my mind, that I will continue to do this for years to come. However in recent months I have found myself in a good place. My mental health is good. My life is stable and full of things I love. I find myself happy and challenged in ways I want to be challenged. The stressors I once had, are less of an issue and many are no longer a thing. Other stressors are better handled due to having a clearer mind, because I have the time to process. I have been working towards this for so long and while it is far from perfect, it's nice to see the benefits of my hard work paying off.

An unexpected side affect though, has been the loss of some creative energy. I am not always sure what to write about or how to take unique self portraits. I have to think and plan more actively when it comes to creating content. A balanced life has lead me to wanting to be more creative but finding it challenging. How do I create creative pictures showcasing my happiness without repeating the same thing over and over again? Normally I would choose to shoot images of the things I'm doing that make me happy, however a lot of those things I don't have all day access to; aerial and lyra, for example. If I had access to the tools used in those classes, this would be easier. But I don't. This has put me in a state of wondering where/what/how I will create next. Without the constant yo-yo I have to work to create. Be that words or images. It doesn't just come from an emotional place. Content creation has become hard. Interestingly the Art Assignment recently posted a video called “The Myth of the Tortured Artist”. A lot of what she said really resonated with me. Especially the shared video of the creator saying something along the lines of “he sold one painting in his life, because he didn’t know how to network, and then he died.” Finding a way to be creative without being a tortured artist sounds good to me.

On one hand I would love to take the approach that Holly Rose does; a 7 day challenge of portraits. Spend a few months preparing and organizing and take seven fun and unique photos. However I have a few issues with that. The first being money and storage. I don’t want to put a ton of money into props that I’ll use once for the photo and then have to store somewhere in my tiny house or throw away. Thrifting would definitely be the way to do this on the cheaper end but it’s still dollars going towards something that may or may not boost my creativity. Second is photoshop. I don’t want to do a massive amount of editing to make the photos work. I want creativity without moving parts or adding hair. I want it to be as authentic to the original capture as possible. This is personal preference and there is nothing wrong with anyone who uses photoshop to make their photos the way they want. It’s just not what I am going for. Babora Kurcova from herinternest is a great example of this, she doesn’t use photoshop and tends to create her own props. Her photos, like Holly Rose, are unique and show her unique way of thinking.

However money, storage, props, and photoshop aren’t all that I struggle with. Wardrobe is a part, my wardrobe consists mainly of work out clothes. The clothes I used to catalog are long gone and I own two pair of jeans, two shirts that are not for working out, and six dresses. Being comfortable when shooting is important to me and so dresses, for the moment, are out of the question. Usually though I don’t want to wear a dress unless I am dressing up for an occasion, like date night. For a time this is why I did a lot of yoga photos, it’s easy to do when you’ve got a set pose list, can do it wearing workout clothes, and just need a pretty background. Place camera on the ground, jump into the pose and voila, you’re done! However habit says that I must showcase a new outfit when taking pictures and that I can’t wear the same thing for every single photo. This is not the truth, the truth is that I am unsure how to be creative without the use of new clothes, long hair, or makeup. Take those things away and I feel a little stuck.

The fourth and finally issue comes from fear. I feel like fear comes up a lot on my blog. I am too afraid to shoot in super public areas. I am too afraid to bring my tripod when adventuring with my camera outside. I am too afraid to use props if I think anyone can see me. I am too afraid of doing weird faces, having strange make up, or funky hair outside of my apartment door (which is an odd one considering my hair color choices). Public anything and I’m too afraid to do it. This issue is far bigger than the three previous. Fear holds me back. I think if I was less alone in my portrait capture this would be less of an issue. Recently Peter McKinnon shared a video called YouTube is the loneliest job I’ve ever had, he got me thinking about how networking and being creative with others makes a difference. How over time you get bored doing the thing you are doing, because you are by yourself and while you may love what you are doing and are challenged, it’s less fun when you are by yourself all the time. In my case I allow my fear to stop me from doing the adventures I want. I also tend to use the excuse of Kevin. Something along the lines of, it’s rude to make he wait while I sit here and perfect this manual setting, so I rush through. Or I should be spending time with him and not the local photography group that only gets together once a month for two hours on a Saturday morning. However both of those excuses are just fear. The truth is he doesn’t mind sitting and waiting for me to work out a setting (especially if he has an audiobook to listen too) and a once a month gathering won’t bother him in the least.

As I move out of a bad mental health creative place and into a phase of healthy balanced creativity and life, I have to think on my fears a lot more. Less on how they are overwhelming my life and more on how to move past. Back in May I wrote about what I would do if I wasn’t afraid. Two weeks ago we did the second thing on that list (Parfrey’s Glen Creek) and have plans for similar adventures. I am nowhere near ready to start taking pictures of other people, but I do think it’s time to maybe branch out and look for a mentor. A support system to help me reach my photography and yoga goals would be great. Now I just need to push past the fear and start. With that, maybe I’ll find a new way to capture images that better reflect the happiness I feel and want to share.

Where you are in your creative journey?