Before we get into this please know that I have written this little article and I have read it and I do not blame you if you just want to look at the pictures and then skip to the end where I will end the piece by stating that ‘and if any of what I said doesn’t make any sense to, or resonate with, you then feel free to sit on the toilet, reading through Pinterest (no offence Pinterest, that’s just the voice of experience), until your legs go numb… actually knowing that you don’t even have to skip to the end, you can just look at the photos. You are welcome.
Inspiration is a funny thing. A floating, ethereal creature that people sell their soul just to meet. At least that’s what people say, certainly all the artists I’ve seen on the TV. These romantic ideals and portrayals of artist always seem to be speaking about this untamable beast that you’re supposed to woo, or capture, in order to get any inspiration at all. I don’t think it’s like that. I do feel that it comes in waves, it does for me but I don’t think it comes from the cosmic or from the daughter of Zeus – although if it is and you read this, please know that I never lost faith and I have always admired the great work that you do – I think that it, inspiration, and definitely development, comes from work. From beating the street, from being out on the concrete seeking, searching and seeing, not always camera in hand, it’s not always necessary although it is helpful, just got to keep the mind sharp.
Now you can find helpful and handy tips online on how best to shoot something or how best to, I don’t know, talk to people and of course resource material is great but I don’t think there is a quick fix. I have learned more, developed more and have more ideas come to me while outside, wandering around than I ever have sitting in the comfort of my red, rustic leather chair in my smoking jacket – crushed red velvet if you must know – smoking my pipe while the fire slowly crackles covering all my surrounds in a small, unnoticeable layer of dust and coal chalk while I pursue through the inspiration of the day online… Ok, so I made all of that up. I don’t have any of those things, except the internet, but I feel you get my full and rather off tangent example.
I do have a few books that I constantly return to, mainly involving other photographer’s negatives. I like to see that they do to get the finished photo. Makes me feel like my efforts will not be in vain because, as well all know, getting famous is the exact reason why We, and by that, I mean the royal We, and by that, I mean me – I – photograph and not for any existential, how do I actually fit into this world reason. However, not matter how great these materials can be, I still think that real inspiration comes from wandering the streets, well that’s where I find my inspiration.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a constant flat foot that is a fountain of inspiration, god no. I have low points, I suffer from dreaded void that is the lack of inspiration and when it hits I can feel like it is because I am losing my touch. When this lull hits it is usually followed by thoughts of selling everything and retiring, become a recluse and swearing at the letterbox every time a letter drops through it, which wouldn’t be very often as I would be a recluse and who writes letters these days! I do two things during this time. I take a step back, I turn to photographs and photographers and become insanely jealous of their work, plotting my devious revenge on the world for what it made me become, like all of those ‘evil genius’ types that hide in the shadows and plot the end of civilisation. When this downturn hits its peak, I force myself out with a camera, just for an hour or two and photograph everything, the scatter gun approach. I start to feel the injection of like, of the starts of inspiration, an endorphin rush that helps me start to focus again and, in general, feel better again. Now the other thing I do is to skip all of the sulking parts and just jump straight to the ‘photograph everything, the scatter gun approach’. So really, it’s just the one thing I do, well both have the same end result, just one involves detachment and self-loathing.
The smells, the sounds, the grit under shoe, the way the light echoes around the from sky to building to building to ground making these simply sweet and wholly beautiful scenes that once seen must be caught. Knowing that I have caught just one of these little moments, maybe not even caught but actually witnessed, that fills me with inspiration. That pushes me forward, keeps me photographing, for the only reason I can think of which is simple. To simply photograph, to be and be happy being. And with all of that development will come, like a circle or photographic life.
You know I started writing this piece with the intent on it being about inspiration, how I get it and what inspires me but it’s changed direction somewhere along the way and become a note to myself, a monologue or maybe short dictation on what I think brings me inspiration. It feels like I am just trying to flesh out the cocks in my head to make sense of the tangled web that is my mind. Not a bad thing, for me. Terrible thing for you. Should never following anything down a rabbit hole, not even a rabbit. Think I will finish the piece with an ending you can discover at the start, I mean, endings are usually the same, only the story differs so knowing the ending shouldn’t matter, right?
I think the real trick will come in learning how to keep the inspirational lulls at bay, keeping a steady, well-adjusted pace, like a slow drip keeping the edge off. Maybe a project would help? I don’t have a connecting project, yet. There is always something floating around the back of my mind but nothing I have felt strongly enough to work on and follow through on. The recent rumour is that I will start work on a commuter project and as I am one I think it would be a good place to start. If I have something that constantly requires work, that could be the slow drip.
This is not that cathartic, I thought it was supposed to cathartic to write about yourself, thought process and emotions? All this post is doing is making me feel lazy that I am not out photographing and even lazier that I don’t have a project. My head is fuzzy and aching and I think it’s time to rest. I dislike my broken body with the aches and pains, foggy brains and sweats.
Until I perfect the trick I feel it will be business as usually but I know I have the power to change my own outcome. ‘If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change’, Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror, powerful stuff. Now I just need to develop the technology to make a time machine and start actioning change! Nah, I’m joking, only partially. I will continue to walk, to keep myself inspired and continue to develop myself and my work.
I think that is it at an end, bit of a twisted journey but journeys are always worth it and if any of what I said doesn’t make any sense to, or resonate with, you then feel free to sit on the toilet, reading through Pinterest (no offence Pinterest, that’s just the voice of experience), until your legs go numb.
All thoughts and comments are welcome.