by Guest Contributor Dominique Angle
Be inspired. Be creative. Look within. But foremost, to thine own self be true. It always amazes me how many times you can hear the same phrase before you actually, and truly, hear the words. Recently, though, those words hit me like a brick falling 40 stories.
You see, I’ve been in a slump, a photography slump, for about 8 months. Every now and then I’d mention to this person or that person that I was feeling uninspired, that the images I was producing weren’t what I was envisioning. I totally lacked passion and felt rather indifferent about my images. The feedback I received was always along the same lines –Push through it! Give yourself time! I can’t wait to see what you do once you break through it!
Every creative goes through a slump. A period of uninspiredness. A rut. A period of fallowness. The trough of a wave. I’m not any different. I do know, though, that the trough of a wave, always gives way to a crest. That a piece of land left fallow, will regenerate and will yield a healthy crop the following year. That a period of uninspiredness yields to a period of inspiration. David DuChemin mentioned this also in a podcast I recently listened to.
My dry spell started when I realized that I could produce technically sound images. What comes next? I had honestly not really thought about it. I had arrived at my (intermediate) destination. Now what?
I’m a late bloomer and a slow learner. I’m very methodical and tend to learn things in a linear fashion. So, when I decided to learn more about photography, I started at the beginning with the basics, learning manual operation first, and went on from there. Then, I started a Project 365 in order to solidify all that knowledge. Mid-way through my second p365, my technical skills were solid. What happens? You get bored. You hit wall. You fall in a rut.
How do you get passed the wall? Passed being bored? You start looking outside of yourself for inspiration. You start checking out other photographers and their work. And then you start comparing yourself to them. And therein lies the trouble. A long time ago, I heard the phrase “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” The danger in looking at other photographer’s work is that only the best of their images are made public. You don’t see the underexposed, or the overexposed ones, or the ones where focus was missed or the ones with the wonky white balance. Only the best ones get shown on the web, in books, or galleries, but trust me, everyone has images of the “other kind.” So, when you compare all your images to someone’s “highlight reel,” it’s inevitable that you’ll feel bad about yourself and you start questioning your journey.
So, how do you get passed the wall? It took me 8 months to realize that I already had the answer: you look within. You find that spot inside of you that originated your creative journey. And stay true to that. Do what you like and it will show in your images. We are all on our own journey, and no two journeys are the same. Check your compass and stay on your course. It’s all good. You’ll get where you’re supposed to get, in your own time, by staying true to yourself and looking within for inspiration.
Dominique lives in Chattanooga, TN, with her husband and 2 kids where she is a family and aspiring wedding photographer. She loves the quiet of early morning, good coffee, and long walks with the dog. She has a severe yarn addiction and almost had her knitting needles confiscated by a Japanese customs official once. Her photography journey started in elementary school when her father gave her her first camera that took 110 cartridges. (Anyone remember those?) While her photographic interests are varied, her primary passion is to document her kids’ lives as they navigate their way through childhood.
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