Confessions of a Stuck Photographer
I used to tell students to not be afraid of stuckness – and they looked at me like I had become senile or just crazy. I went on to explain that being stuck is when we have tried everything we know to do and give up. Giving up seems to allow us to free our minds to find a solution. I learned about the joy of stuckness in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, way back when…
Learning something new is always hard, it takes work and the path to knowing is rocky. If we never feel stuck, if we never feel lost, if we never feel overwhelmed by all there is to know, if we believe we already know everything there is to know – we aren’t engaged and learning. To be vital and alive we always need to be at the leading edge of our learning curve. Anywhere else leads to boredom and stagnation.
I am stuck, but not enjoying my stuckness very much. If there are any prior students of mine out there reading this, I understand the evil looks you sent me because stuckness isn’t fun.
I don’t think I’ll ever become a really good photographer. There I’ve said it as I’m fighting back tears. I’ve been working at it for 6 months – I should know what I’m doing. And if anyone dares respond that they have been doing it for 6 years and still have times when they don’t feel like they know what they are doing, I’ll… Well I’ll just have to give you a raspberry and make my freshly cleaned computer screen all spotty again.
When I pick up a camera I seem to turn my brain off. Photography for me is a creative experience. I am wanting to capture all the beauty there is in life. After a lifetime of using my left brain, I finally have the time and leisure to be creative. I think I have even bypassed my right brain, going straight to my soul. When I start snapping photos I don’t do much thinking. I just go for the adrenaline rush of capturing everything there is to capture. Can you relate?
This is a new (and good) position for me because I have always been a thinker, although my sister says I was spacey as a kid. Purely semantics. I think, however, that I need to put more thought in my photography if I am going to justify spending all that money on a DSLR when my friends are taking great pictures with their cell phones. And besides when I am back from a “shoot” and sorting through photos I realize that I should have been a little more deliberate about which settings I used. I’m embarrassed to say that emptying my recycle bin has become a regularly scheduled activity – like taking out the garbage.
I do change settings and I do get some good images – at least people are telling me this in blog comments. I also know that I have been taking A LOT of photos to get a few really good ones, ones where most of the settings are right. I have been studying the settings on the photos that turn out and the ones that don’t. Usually I can figure out why.
Take a deep breath, Pat. I live in two places where there are wonderful photo opportunities so each time I pick up my camera isn’t a once in a lifetime event (I promise not to contract to do a wedding). I have always been intrigued by SLR cameras and now is my time to enjoy my stuckness while I learn. I think I’ll go back to my Nikon D5100 for Dummies because reading can be really productive for me when I’m stuck.
I also think I will work on integrating my left and right brain. I know that I can be creative in my thinking, so why can’t I be thoughtful in my creativity. I need to slow down and think about how I can best capture that image that I think is so beautiful. There – that feels good. If I integrate my thinking, I bet the passion of my soul will find better expression.
I just wish I was learning faster. After all I learned how to water ski and got up the first time (not bad for an athletic klutz) by reading a little book and thinking my way through. Patience isn’t my long suit. Now you can tell me it just takes time. I’ll listen.