This is the second part of my thoughts regarding something I "came out of the closet" with yesterday when it comes to how I feel about "creating" these days as a full-time professional photographer & educator.
I know a lot of my clients read these blogs so I want to make clear: this is something when it comes to my personal self and how I look and create in my free time when I'm not working on client productions & commissions. I adore my job, in fact: I think this entire thing happened because I love to put all of my photography-energy into each and every set I do for my clients; working it out in details and preparing the sets. And I don't mind it; I think it's amazing I can have such a passion for something that I love waking up in the morning and have shoots planned for clients all from Europe. Its amazing! I made a commitment to it and I want to stick to that and put all of my energy for photoshoots in what I do as a full-time job.
The thing I did learn is that I need to split up my professional career vs my personal life. I always joked that 'art consumed me' buts it's one of those jokes with a lot of truth into it: Yesterday I wrote a blog about "that I'm quitting photography" because I want to create art again.
Now with my two series going wild (The Eden Project & Jesters) ; both with an amazing response above average, lots of people contacting me to participate in it (in)directly, higher average on social media ... I realised there was a pattern. One that was so simple I overlooked it: I was creating from my heart again. Its such a subtile difference but one with a great impact: Working for clients is amazing, but it's a different creative energy. My first goal is always to make them feel beautiful and awesome, turn their (childhood) daydreams into actual realities. I work for them and it's cool. However, as artist there is always this urge to "create for yourself" with no stress, strings attached or money involved. You are not delivering a service to someone else, but you do it for yourself.
I used to just shoot for the fun of it, creating beautiful things but nothing deeper & thats how I felt most happy. Thought with growing older, career evolutions and learning to life the freelance life I felt how my values started shifting and changing. That I was overworked is no real secret and I found myself in a circle of non-stop creating, trying to stay on top, saying too much yes and investing unwisely into projects. It left me with 20 hour working days, neverending postal and import taxes (out of my own pocket) and running a fast-growing business. This all happened in a year so it was an incredible fast paced lifestyle which was - even for me - too much at one point.
After I did the "Goron Chronicles" project in the UK in march, my first long-term project in a while I felt so recharged. Not only because I travelled (which also helped a great deal); I broke the routine, I worked on a project I was personally invested in ... And I also had a little meltdown. As what happens when you out of your zone.
To sketch an idea what this means is: I used to shoot almost every single day for months straight for both personal as professional reasons. If I would stop now; I would have about 3 months of 2-times-a-day-nonstop-posting-material. Thats how much I shot & edited and still have to do. I do not regret it one bit, it was an amazing time that has learned me a lot and gave me an incredible amount to choose from for an epic portfolio. It has given me great memories, an amazing team and a lot of fun. But it was a lifestyle that was good for a few months; I would do 16 to 20 hours a day, every single day, for months straight. At first it was fueled by the passion to create but when business started booming it was less ... interesting.
When I encountered my artblock, I thought it was just one of those things you just have if you're creating. Looking back now, it was simply me being completely drained. I took a step back for a long time (in my terms) and looked at my body of work and I found it wasn't ... living up to expectations anymore. I liked a lot of my older work more, despite my technical growth, because it was more "deep" (as far I create "deep things").
I'm now here, the end of june, fast forward a few months and I feel better then I have been in the past two years together. While I still have a long way to go, I do have learned from my mistakes, shifted my values and I am focussing on introducing things in my life that are important to have or pursue. I've become "lazy" in such a way I didn't come out of my comfort zone anymore. I "know" more or less what I'm doing with my business (lets say I know the good basics at least!) and I have some big plans ahead for it too (awesome things I'm so hyped about).
Interestingly enough, moving away from "the photography" idea in my business I also opened many doors inside my head which I have talked about with some of my students (for a part at least) . It is giving me the (shivering) confidence to release my new photoshoot prices soon (equally to what I'm investing, with an entire new service and delivery!) & I'm working towards expanding my entire educational to a whole new level. All because I realised that routine kills me (I can't shoot & retouch 24/7 months straight anymore) and I want to do so much more to inspire, give and create. It was a bitter pill to swallow but thats what's life about: crawl out of that dark hole and make life something you're happy worth living. I'm a workaholic so I will make the best out of it considering I am addicted to creating and have a burning passion to inspire others.
Here we go again: summer has always been my "turning point" and I think this time, it's going to be a good one.