I've made this comment numerous times. The best part of this industry has little to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's mutual love for the craft. Well, meet a new buddy, Liz Huston. Liz and I have never met, but we've had a couple of great phone calls about her guest post.
Liz is part of a remarkable team of artists Tamron USA put together. As a partner in the SCU project, Tamron had her scheduled for an October guest post. Well, here's the surprise for me and soon to be for you.
Liz wrote one of the best posts I've ever read about dealing with what most of think of as "burnout". What makes it so on point is she recognized the challenge before she crashed and burned. She backed up, took a look at what she was feeling and made a conscious decision to refocus her creative energy.
There's so much to this guest post that applies to different aspects of all our lives, not just as photographers. Liz set out to "rediscover inspiration" and in the process she not only rekindled her passion, but created a whole new path for her journey as a photographer, an artist and oh yeah - a hell of a writer!
A big thanks to all my friends at Tamron USA for great glass and bringing some terrific people into our lives! You can check out more of Liz's work on her site. You won't be disappointed.
After 20 years of being a photographer, somewhere along the way, I lost that sense of wonder in it. Perhaps that was a natural result of turning passion into full-time work; it became just that, work. Making great photos continued to be the mission, but somewhere, somehow, it was no longer my passion. Wedding after wedding, head shot after head shot, my camera became a burden, not the freeing creative tool I had come to know and love for the past 20 years.
This is uncomfortable to admit. As creative professionals we want to believe that our passion is inexhaustible, enthusiasm is our fuel, and talent is natural. When we bump up against the places where it’s not fueled by passion, it can get a little frightening. The questioning begins and one has two choices; to look for inspiration or to simply give up.
I chose the former.
It’s like any relationship, when you think about it. Passion waxes and wanes like the cycles of the moon. The moon, like my passion for photography, was never gone, just hidden.
The first step was to discover what subjects excited me, where I felt the flicker of passion. The answer was surprisingly easy, once I actually asked the question.
The answer was travel photography. I wanted to travel the world; to walk on foreign soil, see new wonders and immerse myself in a brand new culture. I wanted to gaze in awe at something tangible, yet slightly inconceivable-- something much larger than myself. I knew the sense of wonder was still alive in me, and only needed to be rekindled. But, where on this beautiful blue-green marble in space to nourish it?
The Sacred Valley in Peru has been calling me for years, and when I asked the question, it was Machu Picchu who answered. Ancient Machu Picchu, with its terraces, grand sense of scale and secrecy beckoned me like a lighthouse calls to lost sailors. Immediately, I purchased a round-trip plane ticket, made hotel reservations, connected with guides, and my trip was planned.
The next step was to fall in love with photography itself, once again. In order to do that, I did what any good cameraphile would do. . . indulged in a new lens. Obviously that’s not the only way to rediscover one's photography passion, but it’s a pretty fun way. There is nothing like a new toy to motivate one to play, and thus rediscover passion.
The Tamron, f2.8 24-70 full frame lens is the lens I’ve been wanting, yearning for, for years. It’s a full frame, wide angle zoom lens, and with f2.8 it’s fast both in aperture and reaction time. Plus, the price was so good that the purchase didn’t affect my travel itinerary. It’s the best new addition to my camera bag in years. I have quite a collection of gear, and don’t make that statement lightly.
Ticket and passport in hand, camera and new lens in tow, I set out to discover something. It was June of 2013 where I experienced the 2 weeks that would transform my life, outlook and creative impulses.
The mountain tops with their side expansive views inspired awe, and quite literally took my breath away. Ancient walls supported more modern walls, and the cities in Peru taught me that history can live with the present if the present can accept its history.
All in all, I don’t know for sure if it was the exercises leading up to my trip (thinking about passion, creativity and getting a new lens) or the act of walking along ancient terraces on foreign soil for 2 weeks. Perhaps it was the culmination of all those things. I know one thing for certain, my passion for photography is back, and it has never been stronger.
Through this mini-crisis of faith in my own passion, I learned a valuable lesson. The quiet, uninspired moments are perhaps just as important as the active, inspired ones. It’s like breathing; you need to inhale and exhale to experience life.
All images copyright Liz Huston. All Rights Reserved.