A Missing Link in the Creative Chain

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Nathan King, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Nathan King macrumors regular

    Nathan King

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #1
    I was looking at some old prints this morning over a cup of coffee, largely due to the fact that I have not found my recent work artistically fulfilling. The vast majority of my photography is architectural in nature, photographing historic structures and neighborhoods for local architects and preservation professionals. It is largely documentary in nature (architects don't like when you get too creative with their work). Technically, what I am creating is miles ahead of my old work but looking at the recent prints leave me feeling cold and emotionless. Viewing my old work excites me - I can see my interest in architecture developing but without the extreme technical inhibitions I have gained from photographing for others.

    Thoughts? Have you gone through a phase like this? If so, how did you move past it?


    Old work:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. The Bad Guy macrumors 65816

    The Bad Guy

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    Kinda went through similar to yourself. Was definitely in a rut regardless.

    The way I got through it was by shaking things up a bit. Shooting stuff I didn't normally shoot OR shoot the stuff I normally did but with a completely different technique. Put limitations on myself (one FIXED focal length or aperture).

    Stuff like that. :)
     
  3. kenoh, Apr 18, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018

    kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #3
    That image of the flat iron is beautiful...

    I am in a rut continuously. I look at my stuff and I feel disheartened. I see my images and look at others and think mine are pathetic (genuine, I am not saying this for effect). I dont do this professionally so it isnt the end of the world BUT, I get where you are coming from. I look at my work (my real job, the one that pays the mortgage) and I just dont get that buzz out of it that I used to. I used to love going all over the place developing solutions to problems for customers. Now, quite frankly, I can't be arsed anymore. So I hope I am getting an idea of what you mean.

    I think it is the difference between shooting what you like to shoot with the freedom over how you like to shoot it, vs being given a very strict brief to fulfill and just going through the process removing the emotional rewards?

    I think like The Bad Guy said above, you need to shake it up a bit. Inject some creative assignments into your jobs, force personal stuff in between, maybe look to take on some more open ended briefs rather than just the rigid ones you seem to be getting right now. Can you maybe take 5 on the architect shoots and do your creative bit aswell? not all the time, just when the hunger strikes. You might find they are not as against it as you thought?

    I imagine you got into this game to make images and now you are in the mid-career crisis zone where you are doing "what you do" and you do it well BTW... and it is feeling a bit rinse wash repeat?

    So maybe just try to do more personal stuff to re-ignite your spark, to help you remember what you loved about it in the early days. As you like architecture, maybe plan a trip so you have something to look forward to? Go take a picture again that you took before. Compare it to how you did it back then and see how you have progressed.

    Just some ideas. Feel free to ignore me...
     
  4. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    I'm just pulling myself out of a real rut so can completely relate to you. I aim to be a car photographer but fell into the trap of taking on any work that came my way because it was providing income. Priorities had shifted as my daughter had just been born. I ended up doing lots of work and being very busy but at the end of the day had nothing for my portfolio or that I felt particularly proud of.

    It took both some kind words and a good kick from some other photographers to get the excitement back. I'm now doing personal work wherever possible and am hoping this work will lead me to get the kind of work that I really want to do. I'm now doing the creative work long before I pick up the camera. I plan the kind of look I want to achieve, produce mood boards etc. This means that when it comes to the shoot I am fired up and know exactly what I want end up with. It is just starting to come through in my work and I have several personal projects already planned for the future that I can't wait to get my teeth into. Even if the paid work doesn't come pouring in straight away, I'm back to enjoying photography and image making again.
     
  5. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #5
    Ditto to everything that has been said. Also, try going back to your roots and use less technology. My wife gave me a Daguerrotype lens a couple of years ago. Everything is manual except for the camera being able to control shutter speed. It was great to get back to basics and have to relearn a lot of stuff I had forgotten because of relying on technology.
    I frequently get into those self-critical ruts. My friends tell me I am better than I think. Maybe you are being a little too hard on yourself.
     
  6. Mark0 macrumors 6502

    Mark0

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    SW Scotland
    #6
    This happens to me now and again, I seem to find myself 'going to the beach AGAIN for a seascape" etc. It is difficult where I live to take new shots without driving around to other places, but I try to push myself to try something different.

    Last year I went for a completely different approach looking at the minimal, quiet landscape and this was inspired by other photographers. I was absolutely blown away when I found out I actually managed to get decent stuff from my first couple of tries. I still got duds from time to time, but the creative side of looking at a scene differently and building it up, rather than stripping parts off really spoke to me.

    Further back, I also shot film for almost a year and half whilst I waited for my current camera to be released. Shooting film is incredible and took me back to my roots. It was a challenge and I loved it, but not the expense of burning through 4 shots per roll of 120 in the 6x17 format!

    Sometimes, a short break away from the camera can be a good thing. However, saying that - this year, I've not been shooting as much as I'd like and weirdly, I find myself wondering how I'll get back "into it" so to speak. Like, where do I start? It's sort of a creative block that I'm trying to get over.

    My photography is in a funny place right now. I'm sure I'll get out of it. In time.
     
  7. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #7
    I hope you do get back into it. Your images are amazing. For you I think your key is to find a way to widen your operating radius.

    I couldnt seriously shoot film. I would bankrupt myself with duds. I rely too much on the instant feedback loop of digital.
     
  8. Mark0 macrumors 6502

    Mark0

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    SW Scotland
    #8
    Firstly, you'd be surprised with film. Try first with cheap 35mm negative film because if the camera has a meter, you'll be fine. Negative film has a wide tolerance and exposure latitude so you can expose for shadows and still retain highlights to a good degree. Slide film on the other hand, can be savage because it is less tolerant to erroneous exposures. Being half a stop to a full stop out can ruin an image. The Velvia 50 I use gives me around 5/6 stops of exposure latitude and I use grads extensively to compress the dynamic range available to me. I have some Velvia in the freezer waiting to be loaded into my GX617. I plan on using it again soon. I have old examples on Flickr and my website. Both easy to find :)

    Secondly, my operating radius is limited because family comes first. I will get farther afield and will be getting a day away in October. Probably Perthshire again because we have unfinished business between us, but it's been ages since I've been up the West Highlands and I'm sorely temped to go there. It boils down to Perthshire: less driving, more locations closer together. West Highlands: More driving, less time for locations that are further apart.

    I do miss my old 3-5 day sojourns of yesteryear into the West Highlands and Skye.
     
  9. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #9
    Yep your radius is a little short at present. Totally get where you are coming from. I am just starting to emerge at the other end where my two are getting a little more independent, I don't have to be in the room within a foot of them to avoid injury, Mrs kenoh and I can at least have a cuppa in the kitchen with them in the lounge or their rooms without having to play "tag team supervision" so I am beginning to get some freedom back. For the record though, I am totally with you, no place I would rather be than with my girls - gonna be fun when they dont want their dad with them all the time anymore.

    You will get your sojourns back at some point... lets just hope that Velvia is still usable! :) and I am always available to ride shotgun!
     
  10. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #10
    Enjoy the family time. It will be gone soon enough :(
     
  11. Nathan King thread starter macrumors regular

    Nathan King

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2016
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #11
    Glad I'm not alone. I ended up taking a short vacation to Kansas City with one of my old film cameras to shake things up a bit. I forced myself to photograph spontaneous subjects I don't normally find interest in, which was a creatively stimulating experience.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #12

    Great news. I guess this proves you need to take a time out every so often for yourself to cleanse your soul or some other hippy BS phrase.

    Key is to make time for yourself to remind you of why you like this game.

    Great capture! I love it when people love their pets so much they go out of their way to MacGyver a solution to carry them with them.
     
  13. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2008
    Location:
    Solon, OH
    #13

    Nice job. Keep it going so you don't slip back into the boredom.
     
  14. Mark0 macrumors 6502

    Mark0

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    SW Scotland
    #14
    Glad you've given yourself a new challenge to get back into it @Nathan King.

    I've been sifting through some older files recently until I can get back out with my camera. I've been trying to re-evaluate whether or not some work or now catches my eye. At least one has.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #15
    No. Film cheap. You can still buy black and white film in 100 foot rolls for $50. That works out to 50 cents per foot. Or 6.25 cents per exposure. With chemicals let's call it 10 cents per shot. When you shoot film the SLR body contribute exactly zero to image quality so a $50 used Nikkormat SLR works fine. I would never print in a darkroom again. Film gets scanned.

    That said, If I were to go back to seriously shooting film I think I'd also go back to medium format
     
  16. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #16
    Different story here in UK. £7 for 36 exposures then £10 minimum to process each film. So roughly £2 (roughly 3 dollars) per frame. That is 35mm. Larger formats less cist effective so for me film has become a luxury. Lol...
     
  17. Mark0 macrumors 6502

    Mark0

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    SW Scotland
    #17
    I would like to echo Ken on this. On my GX617 it gets very expensive as I get 4 shots per roll of 120, and generally those 4 shots are bracketed either in half or full stops (due to ground glass and no dark slide) so I find £5 per roll of Velvia, plus £5-10 developing, P&P roughly = £10-15 per shot :O

    I scan myself, so save there but if I wanted a decent drum scan or Imacon, it would easily put the price up to between £30-£50 per shot in total, depending on scan size in DPI. That's a lot for a non-professional!

    I wish it was a lot cheaper because shooting film is such a great process :(
     
  18. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #18
    Wow! Adds up quick doesnt it? All of a sudden £50 for a new battery is a non-issue... Lol...
     
  19. Mark0 macrumors 6502

    Mark0

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    SW Scotland
    #19
    Yeah. It’s why I chose to scan on my own, largely because I can borrow my work scanner :)
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #20
    Funny a UK film company Ilford sells film here in the US for a less than they apparently they do in the UK HP5+ is $5.70 in a Hollywood California retail store. It does not make sense to pay for processing DIY is pretty easy and inexpensive snd ives you some control over the result.

    There are cheaper brands, I used Ilford as an example because it is a UK company.

    Cost can anything you want. Some people spend thousands on equipment. When I was much younger working part time for minimum wage I'd spend $10 a week on film and had a very basic Minolta SRT100 comer with a 50mm lens. Much of the work was good.

    But as I said I think I'd go back to medium format. That about doubles the film cost (One roll of 120 size Ilford HP5+ is $5.00 for 15 exposures. 15 is about right for most subjects. It you are doing this as a hobby how much fine art black and white can you do? for may make 3 rolls a month.

    There are more expensive hobbies. For example many people like to watch TV and spend $100 a month on a cable subscription.
     
  21. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Glasgow, UK
    #21
    Lol.. nuts isnt it? Ilford HP5+ is £8 a roll here... Welcome to the british tax system I suppose
     

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