10.20.2014

Moving past career paralysis. Pro or Amateur.




I thought I hated traveling but I've found recently that I only dislike traveling when I don't have a good reason in my head to go. Last week we took a couple days off, added them to the weekend and went off to visit the boy at college. His mom and I wanted to see how he was doing. Neither of us had seen the college he chose so we were doing that "anxious parent" thing of making sure he was safe and well. We needn't have worried. He seems to have made a series of good choices.

But the trip served to take me past traveling just for client service or with some sort of art mission in mind. I was traveling for non-photographic reasons probably for the first time in 25 years or so. Because of that I took only one camera and one lens. That's also very unusual for me. I usually take at least a back up body and a secondary choice of lens.

I made due with a Panasonic GH4 and the 12-35mm. I only shot when I wanted to. I depended on Belinda to do most of the "Ben in dorm room, Ben in dining hall, Ben with friends" shots and I pulled the camera out sometimes mostly just in response to things I found beautiful.

I felt blocked in my career lately. I was suffering from the paralysis that comes from, "been there, done that" syndrome. In a nice way taking a break from the expectation of photography helped me see more clearly the deep rut I'd allowed myself to fall into and the quick method of course correction for rut stuck people. It's to stop working and to start playing. 

That's it. That's all. By subjugating the camera to the reason for my travel (to see Ben and his new environment) I was able to defuse the single-mindedness of the relentless photographic process and use it the way I used to. And that was to make photographs that I liked of things that seemed important or beautiful to me.

Traveling with no photographic purpose is a way of letting go for me. Fewer cameras and fewer expectation of photography served to distill the pleasure into digestible little doses and helped me stop being obese with imaging.

Less investment of purpose. More enjoyment of being in the moment. Photography in the service of what I love instead of being in love with photography and scrabbling to find ways to express that misguided love. Who knew?



14 comments:

Tom Northenscold said...

Amateur is such a fascinating word. Below are the two definitions given by Merriam-Webster:

: a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job
: a person who does something poorly : a person who is not skillful at a job or other activity

The two definitions paint completely different pictures. Maybe that's why I bristle at the word. Unless you have plenty of context for the usage, it's hard to know what someone means by it.

I certainly am an amateur according to the first definition, whether I am according to the second is up to personal opinion I guess.

John Krill said...

What happened?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree.

Dave Jenkins said...

Hello, hello? Is anyone there?

Patrick Dodds said...

A zen post. I like it.

Anonymous said...

If you get paid, you are a pro
If you don't, you do not go
What does this say about your skill
Only that you can shill

Burma Shave

Ananda Sim said...

Love the negative space

Dave Jenkins said...

Beautiful, Anonymous!

Ash said...

I don't think Kirk is discussing the definition of amateur or pro or the difference between the two.

Getting stuck in a rut can happen to any photographer who fails to have fun with photography.

'Amateur' work is still work.

G Gudmundsson said...

Yes, it is important to let go of anxiety and fear.

We only die once ... and yes, we will die,

so, let's enjoy our camera gear ... ;-)

Kirk, you are a Scorpio, probably you don't believe in that langue (that brand) -- but, one of the traits of Scorpio is obsession, the need to master whatever interests you, completely and compulsively, until everything, the smallest detail is laid bare ...

if you add that you are cynical, mistrustful and imaginative, you tend to imagine that all sorts of things may happen ... the key word is imagine ;-) ..

on to of this all, the Moon was in Gemini at the time of your birth, so you have a strong need to be be on the move, to communicate - you are a chatterbox...

so, very restless, at the same time as being completely focused at the task at hand...

that leads to... who you are ...

add great humour, your wonderfully self-effacing character, and we have Tuck person you are ...

best regards from Iceland

Ron White said...

Excellent Kirk, I've forced myself to do the same, made the camera and photography secondary to family and friends. Always makes me fee free and very relaxed. Good to hear that all's well with Ben. Take Care.

David said...

Take photos of the things you love. Because if you loose them, you will wish you had a photo.

Anonymous said...

"Who knew?"

Well, like with most things in life, quite a few people, actually. You know, the ones who have already been there and done that. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The only difference between a groove and a rut is attitude. Glad you found your way. Jerry Kircus