What do you do when you don’t know what else to do? Well, that depends. The first thing to do, in my opinion, is to figure out why you don’t know what to do. You see, in the last post, I talked about the value of taking a break from photography—and that’s because we all become exhausted or burned out. Other times, there are other reasons why we don’t know what to do—and it is important that we take these times, pick up the camera, and go with the flow. Photograph whatever catches your eye. It’s an important way to approach the act of creation, I think.
You see, the ability to stick with it is crucial. Breaks are important—but we can’t always be taking breaks from our art. Somewhere in this, we have to learn balance. We need to learn to look inward and analyze what it is that we’re thinking and feeling, and what are motivators or lack thereof are. We need to learn when it’s time to take that break because we really need that time to recharge, and when we need to stick with it because we’re not exhausted yet—just rather uninspired or unmotivated.
Now, here’s the tough part. How do we tell the difference? Inertia is a real phenomenon within the human psyche, one with makes it very easy for us to delude ourselves into thinking we need a break when we actually don’t. I think discerning the difference between when to take a break and when to push through comes down to looking at your level of excitement.
I’ve experienced some of both. Sometimes, I find myself not creating photographs not because I’m not excited. In fact, I may very well be excited to take photographs—but I can’t think of anything to put in front of the lens. This in turn leads to some level of frustration. It’s kind of like spring fever—the drive to rush outside and do something is there, but it’s still too cold outside. Or in the case of photography, the drive to create photographs is there, but the ideas aren’t.
This is the time to stick with it. Take your camera and just go out into the world exploring, waiting for something to present itself. Nine times out of ten, the magic will happen. Look around, experience life, and before too long, you’ll have something that interests you in front of your lens.
And what happens when you’re not excited about photography? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it almost certainly will. You’ll think about ideas you’ve had or projects you need to work on, or you’ll think about packing up the camera gear for a day trip, but your gut reaction will be more of an “ugh” rather than a “yes, let’s do it!” kind of response. This is the time when you need to take that break. It happens when you can’t summon that surge of electric energy that makes you want to create, even if you don’t know what you want to create.
My point here? Stick with it as much as you can—but learn to tell the difference between those times that you can push through and those other times when you really need to stop and recharge. Pushing through when you’re well and truly tired leads to burnout, and burnout is tough to overcome.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.