Hello fellow photographers! I’d like to start out by saying that what I’m about to write is valid for every job or hobby, even just in life in general. For me, my biggest obsession in life has been photography. Or Ben&Jerries. But mostly photography.
My Biggest Fear
I love photography, and I would never let go of it. But there are times for us all when it doesn’t feel like it used to. You look at the pictures after a shoot and it just doesn’t feel right, and you think to yourself: “What’s wrong? These pictures are fine, you love this job, remember?”. You start forcing yourself to work on it, it seems tedious, repetitive, you finish a picture and send it to the client or your portfolio, and people’s response is just “..hmm.. well, it’s okay, I guess”. And they’re right. It doesn’t have that special touch, and you can’t help but consider if you’ve lost it.
I can get that feeling, and in some way it also makes me anxious. Photography is one of those things that makes me feel alive, that makes me go into a whole other world of deeper emotions, where I can relax and feel at home. What if that disappears? Can my joy for photography go away?
The answer is: It will. Rest assured that you will at some point just not like photography anymore. It’s inevitable that you will in periods of your life be more or less into something, especially if you have been doing it every day for many months or years. It might be because you’ve gone into a loop where it’s hard to see progress, or it might be because something has happened in your life that has changed how much energy you have. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I experience it almost every day with co-photographers feeling hopeless, ready to give up.
What I think is very important when something like this happens to you is how you perceive these emotions.
Something that will definitely extend the period of down-time is if you think something is WRONG. That you consider these feelings a sign that you’re going down and will never come up. That you will never find happiness in photography again.
Happiness is something most of us are chasing. Constantly. Every action we ever do is in pursuit of this. Most movies are about finding it, but reality shows us that happiness is not really something you find, which is unlucky when it comes to “happiness”, as it is rather important for us. But before hitting my point, I’d love to briefly explain how I believe the very feeling of happiness works.
Instead of going into a complicated talk about the chemical reactions in your head, let’s try a lovely metaphorical story called “The Ocean”.
The Ocean – A story about how life works
Painting Source: www.aliexpress.com
You’re out sailing the ocean. Sky looks wonderful, there’s food on the ship and everything is perfect. You can see land ahead! Finally. But suddenly the wind stops, and the sails on your ship no longer pus you forward. You slowly drift and sometimes even stop, and you start to get impatient. You have tons of food, but you still bring out the big paddle and start taking long strokes in the water to speed up the boat. The strain of this makes you very tired and hungry, and you start consuming more and more food as you go. When you’re about halfway to land, the food slips up but the wind starts blowing again. Now, you’re exhausted, hungry and the sensation of hitting land is not as fulfilling as you thought it would be, and without food, it will be hard to find more on the land that you reached. If you had just waited for the wind to start blowing again, you could’ve enjoyed the whole trip and still had food when arriving.
The ocean is your journey throughout life, the paddle is your desperation and the wind is events unfolding around you while the sail is your happiness, grabbing those events and turning them into motion. This is a very important distinction, as happiness is not supposed to be constant, like the wind blows stronger at times or not at all. When the wind stops blowing, all you need to do is wait. The waves will still slowly push you forward, and the view is still amazing, and before you know it the wind will start blowing again.
No? It didn’t work? Alright, lets try a simplified version of what goes on in your head.
How your brain kinda works
Our brain wants us to strive and succeed. When we do stuff that is good for us, it rewards us by giving us happiness. Literal liquid happiness is shot out in your brain and you get that lovely rush through your body that tells you that you’re awesome and everything is going to be alright.
See, the problem is that the brain only has a limited amount of this liquid happiness before it has to replenish, and at some point it runs out and needs to “restart” so the happiness reserves get filled again. Ever went to a wild party or had an amazing vacation and came home and suddenly you feel all depressed, even though nothing is wrong? Yea, that’s the restart. Ever taken drugs that made your liquid happiness gates open wide so you could dance and laugh all night and then wake up the next day feeling like this is the end? No? Well, it’s basically the same.
It’s not entirely physiologically accurate, but when you have been doing something great for too long, your brain just simply needs to restart at some point, and start from “scratch”. Instead of fearing this restart, you should instead embrace it and expect it. Welcome it with open arms and know that it is only temporary. When you try to escape the restart, chase the happiness even more, it will only make it worse because there is literally no happiness left for now.
Most people know you can get stressed by not feeling like they have what it takes to fulfill their own demands, or by having to deal with problems all the time, but what few people know is that being HAPPY is also stressful. Getting married and getting a divorce are both extremely stressful, and having success and obtaining your dreams is also very stressful. So just take a break. I highly suggest meditating or anything else with zero input/stress. It wont make sense to jump out of the boat and try to push it yourself. Instead, wait for the wind.
THIS is why it’s so important to not lose hope when it happens.
When you suddenly lose motivation and feel like nothing is working, it just means your brain is restarting. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the view while the waves slowly push you forward. It’ll start blowing again sooner than you think.
Agree? Disagree? Throw your thoughts at me in the comments and I’ll respond right away.