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.

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365 photo project milestone

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Still going, sort of

94. April 5

365 photo project: Day 94. My priority right now is running.

This blog/website was supposed to kick start my creativity. It hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped, but I haven’t completely failed. Basically, other than work and the occasional blog post, creativity has been photography. And that has been a battle of fits and starts.

Lately, other things have demanded my attention. For one, running, which I’m starting to do on a more regular basis. Then there’s work and family and friends. It’s all good, so I’m not going to fret that I’m not necessarily being as creative as I want.

I have managed to maintain my 365 photo project, though that has totally taken a backseat to everything lately. Most of my photos this week have been quick shots taken on my iPhone for some lame social media post or another. Still, I’m 94 days into this latest project. The last time I tried, in 2016, I made it 128 days. Like this time, there are some good photos and some bad photos. I think I’ve done a better job this time around, but still, sometimes I’ve been lazy about it.

Hopefully, I’ll keep this going and I’ll continue to step out of my comfort zone. That’s the whole point of this, after all.

85. March 27, 2018

365 photo project Day 85. Reading IT has also taken a lot of my time. 

Street photography: Take 1

IMG_0433.jpgWhen I’m looking for motivation and consuming content, rather than creating it, I spend a lot of time searching the internet for street photography. I have watched countless videos where photographers give a point of view look at how they shoot street. My google search history is full of terms like, “Portland, Maine & street photography.”

The thing I haven’t done is go out make some street photography.

A few times I’ve left the house with the intention of walking the streets of Portland to shoot and back out because I feel self conscious about walking around the city taking pictures. I’m worried about people looking at the guy with the camera, wondering why he is taking pictures and he better not be taking pictures of me. Social anxiety and fear hold me back a lot, I’m working on it with varying degrees of success.

I usually head out to take photos of landscapes or sunsets or cityscapes. I did spend a little time a couple months ago shooting in Portland, but that was more of a night photography trip than it was a street photography trip.

IMG_0411.jpgToday, I forced myself out to take some street photos. I wasn’t out there long, maybe 30 minutes, and I felt really self conscious the entire time. But I did get a few photos and I learned a few things along the way. Mostly I learned to pay more attention to my composition, especially the lines in the photos, and not to rush so much.

Hopefully, today will also be a motivator to get out and shoot my street. Other than sports, I think street photography is my favorite type of photography. It’s such a great way to tell the story of a city and the people in that city. And more than anything, my goal in creativity is to tell stories.

I don’t know that I told any stories today, but hopefully it was just a start. Today was about getting out the door to shoot and to try to learn a little bit. In that regard, I think it was a success.