Just get out and shoot, or don’t

IMG_1204.jpgI took a bit of a break from this blog, from photography and from creativity in general. It has been almost 20 days since I posted here, which is also the last time (before today) that I used my DSLR. I haven’t written anything other than some headlines or briefs at work in two week. And work hasn’t really been a creative outlet lately either, it’s just get in and get it done.

I also shelved two photography projects I was working on: My 365 project and my “Year on my street,” project. Those projects just weren’t exciting anymore, they weren’t a priority, so I decided not to force it, to cut myself a break and let them go. I’m disappointed I lacked the discipline to continue those projects, but they had become tedious and I didn’t feel like I was getting anything from them, so I stopped.

So, for the time being, instead of forcing myself to do a project I’m not enjoying and not getting anything out of, I’m not going to force it. I’ll shoot when I want to shoot. I’ll make time to write, but I’m not going to feel bad when the blank page stays blank. The goal is to create and learn and be productive, not to feel like shit when I don’t do those things.

IMG_1190This morning I had time and the energy and the desire, so I took my camera on a walk through Portland. I was rusty. My camera didn’t feel comfortable in my hands. I fumbled to get the right settings. None of that stopped me from trying to make some images, from trying to tell the story of the day.

And that is what I want to do. Tell stories with my photos and my words. Putting pressure on myself to do that isn’t going to help. Just getting out and doing it will.

IMG_1232IMG_1187

365 photo project milestone

IMG_2215.JPG

The goal of this project is just to keep taking photos and keep learning. Even if it is waiting in line at a coffee shop.

I have taken quite a few bad photos this year. I’ve taken a few good ones as well. I have not taken as many photos as I would like, but I have taken more photos this year than at any other time in my life.

And recently I hit a milestone. Two years ago when I first discovered and decided to try a 365 photo project, I made it 128 days before I threw in the towel. I officially stopped that attempt, which started on Jan. 25, 2016 on June 1.

This year, I started on Jan. 1, even if I didn’t tell myself I was start this project until Jan. 2. Even then, I didn’t start thinking seriously about the project until the second or third day of the year.

I’m still not sure I’ve taken my photo of the day for my 365 project today (I have taken some photos, but I have still have time before work so I may shoot a little more), but this is the 133rd day of my project. That means on Friday when I was out and about in Portland doing a little street photography, that I made it further into one of these projects than I ever have before.

I still have doubts about whether or not I’ll actually finish this project or if it is worth trying to finish this project. Sometimes it sucks to have this hanging over my head. If other shit is going on and I don’t have time to go take some great photo (I haven’t taken any great photos yet) it can get overwhelming, when it shouldn’t matter.

But I think this project has been worth it. It keeps me thinking about photography. It gives me a reason to work on photography. I shouldn’t necessarily need a reason to take pictures, but I enjoy it and I want to learn, but having a goal helps keep me getting out the door. I have a lot to work on, not just technically, but also in terms of just getting into that mindset of taking pictures, telling stories, and getting out of my comfort zone.

That is still the No. 1 thing I need to work on. Forget all the technical stuff, learning how to use the gear and how to compose a shot, and all of that stuff. I need to get out of my comfort zone. Don’t worry about what people think when I’m walking around taking photos. Take more pictures of people. Just worry about getting a good shot. I’ve known that, but this project has reinforced that.

So for now I’m going to keep working on this. I’ll take photos when I can and I’ll make it a priority when that works out. No pressure, but it does feel pretty good to have taken this further than I have before.

No pressure, just create

IMG_0961

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself with this creative project and that pressure can be a little bit paralyzing sometimes. I want to get out a make photos, I want to write, I want to make stuff. Then I think too much about it and think of all the reasons I can’t do those things. And I usually don’t.

The last few days I’ve figured something out: None of this has to be a big deal. There is no reason put pressure on myself or to make these grands plans to be creative. I just need to get out and do it.

It hit me yesterday. After sitting down at lunch and writing for a little bit, I made my way home, thinking about why I hadn’t taken my camera out at any point to take pictures. When I parked my car in front of my apartment, I noticed some flowers at the house across the street. Now, I don’t care about flowers, but they are photogenic, so I pulled out my camera and started making photos.

IMG_0892.jpg I snapped a few photos of those flowers and kept walking down the street with my camera hanging from a strap on my wrist. On that stroll down the street, I saw many things to photograph. The old school fire alarms nailed to the telephone polls. The cemetery (though I’m still not sure it is OK to take pictures in the cemetery). The pine cones. The stop signs.

IMG_0877.jpg

What I figured out yesterday was there is always something to shoot. Walking a quarter of a mile down the street, I took 45-50 pictures. A bunch of them were the same thing, trying to get the photo right, but there was something to shoot every few steps.

Today I headed out to Portland and, while I’m still a little shy out doing street photography, I was overwhelmed with the things there were to shoot. All the people. The old school brick buildings. The cobblestone streets. The signage and the doorways.

IMG_0965.jpgCreativity doesn’t have an ordeal. It shouldn’t be something to cause anxiety. There are opportunities to create everywhere. It’s just a matter of making the most of the opportunity and enjoying it for what it is. For me, it is supposed to be an escape. IMG_0922.jpg

Why should there be any pressure in that?

A year on my street … busted.

May 8, 2018.jpgI was fixing a pot of coffee this morning, running through the things I might try to accomplish on my day off when I realized I had forgotten to do one of my simple daily creative task yesterday. Every day since Christmas Eve, I have stopped in the middle of the street in front of my apartment and snapped a picture of my neighborhood.

Every day, until yesterday.

I don’t know what happened yesterday to make me forget to take that simple photo. My mind was still a little bit in a fog because Monday was a horse shit day which included blowing out a tire on the way to work, but I felt like I was kind of past it on Tuesday. I woke up in the morning and went through my normal routine. I journaled, I did my physical therapy and I ran 4 miles. After my run, I had some lunch, relaxed for a bit, then headed into the office for my shift.

I never thought about taking that picture. It never crossed my mind.

This project is kind of silly, but it is something I started hoping to make creativity part of my routine. Now, taking the same picture every day isn’t really that creative, but it definitely became part of my routine. It rarely was something I even thought about. When I walked to my car to head to work or to the gym, I would stop, pull out my phone and take that picture. A couple times I forgot about taking that photo until late at night, maybe after work, but for 144 days I took that photo.

March 16, 2018.jpg

I rushed outside just before midnight on March 16, when I remembered I forgot to take this photo. 

Until yesterday.

When I first realized I didn’t take this photo yesterday I was pretty disappointed. I was beating myself up a little bit for failing the most simple creative project I could think of. Then I just said, “Whatever. I missed a day. That becomes a part of the story.” Just like those blurry iPhone photos snapped in the dark, and those photos from a weird angle because someone was hanging around the street and I didn’t want them wondering what the hell I was doing standing in the middle of the street taking photos with my phone, that “I FORGOT” image is a part of this story. I’m human, I forgot one day. It doesn’t ruin the project, it’s just another page … err, picture … in the tale.

IMG_0873.jpg

I didn’t forget today.

I got back on track today, snapping the photo with my DSLR as I headed out to run errands. I’m back on track after missing a day, so that’s OK.

Hopefully, when this is all done, I’ll have a good story to tell.