Creating photos can sometimes be a very strange thing.
I was in Tokyo last week for a short work trip, I’ve been to the city a few times and I’ve always enjoyed it. This time though I felt incredibly lonely – probably because the last time I was here I was with my fiancé.
I’m quite proud of the photographs I took for work (above). But the few images I took on my day off (below) truly conveyed how I felt. It’s strange, I never set out to convey loneliness in those images but it was how I was feeling, and somehow the images came out showing it.
I went to Meiji Shrine, where these images were taken, twice. On the first day there was some kind of a major celebration, full of life and color – any photographer’s dream. But it just didn’t gel with what I was feeling inside and none of the images worked. Visiting Meiji Shrine again the next morning, at seven o’clock when there was hardly anybody there – it just felt right and the pictures worked better.
The creative process can be a wild one. There are days when everything sings and the work just flows. Then there are periods of blue funk – plateaus where nothing seems to work, whatever you do looks like junk, and nothing inspires.
Having been a ‘creative’ for more than a decade, I’ve been through enough of these blue funks to recognize them for what they truly are; transition periods when the creative process inside you is going through a metamorphosis.
The bad news is that there is nothing you can do to hurry or control the transition.
The good news is that the transition means something inside you is evolving, even if you have no idea what it is, and if you can ride it out, you’ll come out different at the other end – I can’t promise you’ll be better, but you will at least have another perspective, and that’s gold in the currency of creativity.
Coming back home, trying to cheer up my blue funk, I re-read photographer David duChemin’s blog. He’s pretty candid about his own struggles with the creative funk, and I found solace in what he wrote in one post:
Slowing down isn’t a bad thing. Less so-called “keepers” isn’t a bad thing. Honest photographs matter. Hard-drives full of images don’t.” If anything, those two images of mine feel honest, and if that’s all I end up with at the end of a week, then I’m okay with that today.