A few shots from a walk around the Old Port on this foggy morning.
I haven’t posted in quite a while, but I have done a little bit of shooting (not much other creating though). Here are some of the images I have made in the last month.
I took a bit of a break from this blog, from photography and from creativity in general. It has been almost 20 days since I posted here, which is also the last time (before today) that I used my DSLR. I haven’t written anything other than some headlines or briefs at work in two week. And work hasn’t really been a creative outlet lately either, it’s just get in and get it done.
I also shelved two photography projects I was working on: My 365 project and my “Year on my street,” project. Those projects just weren’t exciting anymore, they weren’t a priority, so I decided not to force it, to cut myself a break and let them go. I’m disappointed I lacked the discipline to continue those projects, but they had become tedious and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything from them, so I stopped.
So, for the time being, instead of forcing myself to do a project I’m not enjoying and not getting anything out of, I’m not going to force it. I’ll shoot when I want to shoot. I’ll make time to write, but I’m not going to feel bad when the blank page stays blank. The goal is to create and learn and be productive, not to feel like shit when I don’t do those things.
This morning I had time and the energy and the desire, so I took my camera on a walk through Portland. I was rusty. My camera didn’t feel comfortable in my hands. I fumbled to get the right settings. None of that stopped me from trying to make some images, from trying to tell the story of the day.
And that is what I want to do. Tell stories with my photos and my words. Putting pressure on myself to do that isn’t going to help. Just getting out and doing it will.
This photo really needs a person in it. I almost set up my camera and walked into the frame myself, but I was worried people would think I’m weird, so I didn’t. Why do I give a shit what people think?
I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself with this creative project and that pressure can be a little bit paralyzing sometimes. I want to get out a make photos, I want to write, I want to make stuff. Then I think too much about it and think of all the reasons I can’t do those things. And I usually don’t.
The last few days I’ve figured something out: None of this has to be a big deal. There is no reason put pressure on myself or to make these grands plans to be creative. I just need to get out and do it.
It hit me yesterday. After sitting down at lunch and writing for a little bit, I made my way home, thinking about why I hadn’t taken my camera out at any point to take pictures. When I parked my car in front of my apartment, I noticed some flowers at the house across the street. Now, I don’t care about flowers, but they are photogenic, so I pulled out my camera and started making photos.
I snapped a few photos of those flowers and kept walking down the street with my camera hanging from a strap on my wrist. On that stroll down the street, I saw many things to photograph. The old school fire alarms nailed to the telephone polls. The cemetery (though I’m still not sure it is OK to take pictures in the cemetery). The pine cones. The stop signs.
What I figured out yesterday was there is always something to shoot. Walking a quarter of a mile down the street, I took 45-50 pictures. A bunch of them were the same thing, trying to get the photo right, but there was something to shoot every few steps.
Today I headed out to Portland and, while I’m still a little shy out doing street photography, I was overwhelmed with the things there were to shoot. All the people. The old school brick buildings. The cobblestone streets. The signage and the doorways.
Creativity doesn’t have an ordeal. It shouldn’t be something to cause anxiety. There are opportunities to create everywhere. It’s just a matter of making the most of the opportunity and enjoying it for what it is. For me, it is supposed to be an escape.
Why should there be any pressure in that?
When I’m looking for motivation and consuming content, rather than creating it, I spend a lot of time searching the internet for street photography. I have watched countless videos where photographers give a point of view look at how they shoot street. My google search history is full of terms like, “Portland, Maine & street photography.”
The thing I haven’t done is go out make some street photography.
A few times I’ve left the house with the intention of walking the streets of Portland to shoot and back out because I feel self conscious about walking around the city taking pictures. I’m worried about people looking at the guy with the camera, wondering why he is taking pictures and he better not be taking pictures of me. Social anxiety and fear hold me back a lot, I’m working on it with varying degrees of success.
I usually head out to take photos of landscapes or sunsets or cityscapes. I did spend a little time a couple months ago shooting in Portland, but that was more of a night photography trip than it was a street photography trip.
Today, I forced myself out to take some street photos. I wasn’t out there long, maybe 30 minutes, and I felt really self conscious the entire time. But I did get a few photos and I learned a few things along the way. Mostly I learned to pay more attention to my composition, especially the lines in the photos, and not to rush so much.
Hopefully, today will also be a motivator to get out and shoot my street. Other than sports, I think street photography is my favorite type of photography. It’s such a great way to tell the story of a city and the people in that city. And more than anything, my goal in creativity is to tell stories.
I don’t know that I told any stories today, but hopefully it was just a start. Today was about getting out the door to shoot and to try to learn a little bit. In that regard, I think it was a success.