I think every creative knows the feeling. The pressure to create through the seasons. First, September comes around and you log onto your social apps and see seasonal images and art EVERYWHERE. Suddenly, it feels like every photographer in the world has a forest in their backyard that they are taking foggy morning walks through. Then, suddenly the leaves are starting to change and you feel that pressure to get those beautiful images while you can before the leaves fall. Even more suddenly, snow begins to fall and you need to document the snow as well. Next, Christmas lights pop up and you need to photograph that beautiful, colorful bokeh! It really just starts racing.
If you’re like me you start bookmarking images you love and building a mental list of things for you to capture. This list starts to mix in with your ever-growing to-do list. Plus, the challenges of managing a family. Suddenly, you NEED a pumpkin patch sunset image, and creatively photoshopped Halloween costume image. Then you need shot of a massive Christmas tree next to a grand staircase with kids in matching pajamas. And before you know it your actual life no longer fits into the art you feel pressured to create.
The Fall season seems to beg us to create peaceful images with rich colors. Then, the Christmas season begs us to see sparkling magic everywhere we look. The pull is strong. There is no denying it. You can truly create beautiful images during these seasons. But what if our drive to create images with these feelings was grounded more in our drive to actually feel these things within ourselves? Is your body telling you it wants to feel slow and peaceful? What if your brain wants to bask in the child-like magic of Christmas? What if the pressure we feel to hustle to create these images before the moments are gone actually steals from the moments themselves?
Now, I’m a documenter too. I consider myself the legacy keeper of my family. However, I am in no way saying having your camera out means you can’t be present. I’m talking about the pull and pressure we feel from the creative endeavors of those around us. That pull is heightened by the speed and busyness of the holiday seasons. If we don’t pay attention, the outside pressure to create can steal from what makes us unique as an artist.
So how can we both slow down and create with all the beauty around us?
Start by thinking about the phase of life you are in. This fall, will you have a baby who has never played in leaves before? Can you document those little baby toes with the leaves?
This Christmas do you have a child who is just on the cusp of moving on from childhood wonder to the reality that parents bring the magic? How can you capture and tell the story of that transition this year? Can you capture that childhood belief for you to save just one more time?
What things do you do as a family already? Maybe every year you build gingerbread houses, or maybe you have a favorite house you trick or treat at. These are moments that will already be happening whether you photograph them or not. Come up with a list, and decide on which ones are worth capturing to you. You can even begin to capture these yearly and create a series that will show how your family changes with time.
Now how can you put yourself in the position of capturing what you want from these moments? Maybe that means when you build your gingerbread houses it’s on the side of the table that gets the best light! Maybe it means making sure you do it before there’s no light coming in from a window. These can be really simple shifts that don’t change the moment or tradition at all and make it easier for you to create art with you family’s real life.
Once you have a plan for how to capture your in place traditions, now is the time to think about the creative images you want to make this year.
Ask yourself some thought provoking questions. Are you feeling the pull to be outside more? Are you feeling driven, motivated, energetic? Or are you feeling the desire to be still, quiet, and peaceful? Take time to write some of these emotions you’re carrying and wishing for down on a piece of paper.
After you have your list, then you can come up with some images that will speak to these parts of you. Maybe THIS is your moment to go create an image where leaves are falling and the fog is thick and you are in the most picturesque forest one could find! Or maybe you come up with an indoor image that speaks to your soul more. Maybe photoshopping Santa’s sleigh into a scene is more your style! The sky is the limit here!
Finding a few images that you create for you that aren’t bound by rules of documentary or authenticity can be really freeing and empowering. The difference is this exercise helps you find your why for what you are creating. Instead of feeling pressure to keep up with the beauty you see on social media, you are creating and telling stories that come from inside of you as an artist.
My advice with this exercise is to come up with only 2-4 images you want to create this season that are purely for the thrill and joy of creating. You can even take time to write up a list of the things you will need to be able to effectively execute the images you have in your mind.
By the time you are done with all the steps above you will have a whole list of beautiful images for you to capture this year. But none will be backed by the pressure to keep up with anyone but yourself. You will end the season with images that document your actual life and the beautiful way it unfolds. I promise they will be some of your favorites someday even if you don’t love every part of them as art. Regardless, you will also exit the season with some images that speak to who you are as an artist. Images that allowed you the space to dream up creative visions. Neither set will have deprived you of your peace or overburdened your schedule.
For more inspiration, follow Amy on Instagram!
FREE tutorials | NEW podcast episodes | academy news & releases | exclusive interviews | & learn how to let your story unfold.
©HelloStoryteller. 2020 | Designed by Launch Your Daydream