Here is my story of finding my way back from a rut. It turns out creativity is a huge blessing! Picking up my camera and creating meaningful images that truly spoke to me is something I took for granted. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself riding the struggle bus in more ways than one.
Life is hard, especially during a global pandemic. When we were thrown into the first lockdown, I was brimming with ideas, beautiful ways to capture what my kiddos were doing during such chaos. In an instant, our world became so small and intimate; there was going to be so much to document. I had a captive audience, there was no school, and the weather was glorious. Although life in the outer world was quickly descending into panic, we were living our best lives in our house on the hill. Fast forward to now, we are all more than a year in, and I’m lost.
Looking around at the same four walls, the same garden, the same everything we have been surrounded by for the last 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, it got more challenging by the day to see beauty. I’ve documented the heck out of our lives, capturing the little details, the kids drawing, the milk deliveries, the gorgeous pockets of light all over our home. Now my inspiration has all but gone, I’m in a severe rut, and I soon realized I’m not the only one!
I read about how different people dealt with creative blocks. I found it so strange that I couldn’t see the struggle of other artists I admired and how they were dealing with it in their work. They used many tools to help, from putting your camera away, shooting through it, meditation, walking and getting out in the fresh air. These seemed like valid ways to help but to be honest; I was so stuck I couldn’t even pull myself together enough to try most of the solutions.
Wrongly, I assumed that picking up my camera would fix me; this wasn’t the case. The habit was still there. I still shot and I still produced images, but they didn’t make my heart sing like they used to. I needed help finding my way back from this rut.
These four rut-busting steps helped me to get my groove back.
I started out shooting the most mundane moments in our day, and finding beauty where most would see mess or chaos. Somewhere along the line, that changed.
Walking into my kitchen a couple of weeks ago, I caught a glimpse of colourful light hitting my cabinet door; oh, what was that? I looked down, and it was my kids plastic plates in the dishwasher; my soul caught fire!
I felt a force, one I hadn’t felt in a long time, so I grabbed my camera and shot those dishes as if my life depended on it; it felt amazing. Find what makes you happiest and go back to that. It might not fit too much with where you find yourself right now, but it’s one way to get your stride back.
With all this going on, I had to stop myself from lifting my camera and seeking out the perfect shot. Instead, I kept it close, knowing that when the time was right, I’d see it much like the illusive dishwasher session. I started to shoot with intention. Moments that seemed trivial were the ones I was drawn to again. The dreamy morning light streaming into the dark hallway, illuminating my kiddos artwork, and this blew my mind. I intended to shoot and capture what my heart desired right at that moment. No kids in the frame, no insane storytelling moment (well, kind of). It was just an image taken for what it was… the love of art and beautiful light.
Before this slump, I shot every single day, and I captured something that made me happy, and I wanted to share. All of a sudden I felt that I was failing, and it was pretty devastating. Something that came so naturally before was now being forced, and it didn’t feel good. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time, step back and focus on other things going on. It might feel totally unnatural not to be documenting the 1st trip to the zoo, but this also might be just what you need to find a little balance.
Hear me out. I know I said earlier I’d shot in every available pocket of light in my home, and although this is still true, I’ve started to find spaces and light I didn’t truly see before. But now I feel like my mind has started to play ball! I’m seeing the light fall differently all around me. We have lived here for eight years now, and I know where and when to find the best light, or at least I thought I did.
While wallowing around the house, finding nothing to shoot, it came to me. The soft dappled light in the random corner in the hallway, and the harsh light flowing in from the back yard through the laundry room door… these spots that I’ve overlooked for years have become my saving grace.
Although these have been ways that helped me find my way back, I’m still struggling and adjusting. I shoot a lot less now. Some days that bothers me, but I’m learning to be okay with that too.
I feel like I have my fire back, which is what I hoped to achieve. I’m producing images again that fill me with joy. I’ve learned that this creative block might be something I have to deal with from time to time and that it’s not such a bad thing. It’s given me a genuine appreciation for my craft. It made me stop and look at what I truly want to achieve. I hope these rut-busting ideas can help set you on your own path to finding your way back.