I’ve been feeling a little exhausted by photography and cameras lately. It’s a funny thing writing a blog about all this stuff, it just becomes relentless. What sometimes helps is a swing in my hobbies between enjoying taking photos and enjoying playing with cameras. I enjoy both hobbies, so when one feels a little less interesting, I usually fall back on the other to keep me going. Sometimes though, my interest in both wains. Cameras seem wholly uninteresting, and I can’t find the motivation or inspiration to take photos either.
Interestingly, whilst in this particular funk, I’ve been given reason and opportunity to remember something important – something my wife would probably rather I spent more time remembering in fact. Photography isn’t everything – and what’s important is the inspiration and reason to do it. I think we all know this really, but for the few of us that a little more obsessed with photography and cameras than is probably healthy, sometimes a little reminder is something to be embraced.
I’ve actually been feeling pretty down about my photography for a little while. I’m not looking for sympathy here, I know the more consistent inspiration will return eventually, but with a lot going on at work, and a recent decision to move house too, photography has just taken a bit of a back seat. I’ve even largely stopped listen to photography podcasts, which really is a sign that my mind has been elsewhere.
That said, for one reason or another, I did find some motivation to listen to the Classic Lenses Podcast a couple of weeks ago. In this particular episode, Simon looses connection leaving Perry and Johnny to their own resources. Without Simon at the helm, the conversation meanders a little more than it usually does and Perry talks for a little while about how when going for a recent trip home to Canada, he didn’t take nearly as many photos as he thought he might’ve. Instead, he just enjoyed his surroundings and the time he spent with his girlfriend. Despite going to a particularly beautiful part of the world, photography had not been his primary focus.
If you asked my wife, she’d probably tell you that everything we do as a family involves photography being my primary focus. Out for the day with the kids – just an excuse for photography. Walking the dogs – photo outing. Shopping in town – street photography shoot. I have a camera on me at all times, so to her that’s my main focus at all times. Sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes, she’s right too – but how much I take photos and the quality and enjoyment of the outcome still all comes down to how inspired I’m feeling.
When I’m enjoying both hobbies, it can take over a little bit – I’m inspired to take photos for even half a sniff of an idea, and inspired to use the cameras for the sheer enjoyment of doing so. That’s not the case at the moment though. At the moment it’s the other way round. I might still be carrying a camera everywhere I go – it’s like a safety blanket – but I have practically no desire to use the things since the inspiration is at such a low ebb.
Unfortunately, being someone who runs a blog about photography and cameras this can get a little stressful. To a lesser or greater extent, I don’t have the luxury of just being able to do what Perry did and enjoy time without photography. There is a need for me to shoot just to feed the beast that is 35mmc. So I force myself, and sometimes don’t even enjoy it at all – and I think it shows in my photography, or at least I see it in my photography.
A good example of this is when I recently went on holiday with the kids. I took a bunch of cameras, as most of us do when we go on holiday I’m sure. Perry certainly took more than he needed, and I did too. In the end though, I only shot 3 of the cameras I took with me. My Hexar RF, with which I took about 10 photos. A Pentax Espio 80 and a Mamiya 7. The outcome of shooting these these three cameras speaks volumes about the point I want to make.
The Mamiya – zero inspiration
I took the Mamiya as it was loaned to me after writing a review about the Plaubel Makina 67. Anais, it’s owner, was quite insistent that I give it a go. I loved the Makina, so he was sure I’d love the Mamiya too. Having shot the Makina whilst on holiday last year, I figured I’d take the Mamiya on holiday as well. That way I could do a fair comparison. Unfortunately, it was never going to be a fair comparison. The difference between this summer and last is that last summer I was feeling pretty good about photography. This summer, as I expect you’re beginning to understand, I haven’t been.
I forced myself to take the Mamiya for a walk on the beach. Now I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed the walk, and in the moment was fairly happy snapping away, but the results feel fairly uninspired. There’s nothing all that wrong with them from a technical point of view, but because I felt as though I was forcing myself to take the pictures, my enjoyment both of the experience and in the results is less than it might have been had I not been in this funk.
The Espio 80 – some inspiration
Now, when this happens, I often revert to just picking up a point & shoot camera, and as you will see from a forthcoming review of a Pentax Espio 80, to some extent, this does help reinvigorate and inspire me to start snapping again. Funnily enough though, because the condition of the camera wasn’t perfect, I didn’t really enjoy taking photos with it too much either, or at very least, my confidence in it as a camera wasn’t entirely there.
My motivations to shoot were there though. I wasn’t that bothered about taking photos for a hobby, there was a little bit of a sense of wanting to get a couple of snaps for the sake of content for the inevitable review, but moreover I was keen on just making sure I got a couple of nice photos of the kids on holiday. I make a photo book for my wife every Christmas – mostly consisting of photos of the kids at various times throughout the year. I love photographing my kids anyway, but knowing I’m going to make this book just gives me a little bit of extra motivation to get a couple of nice snaps whilst we are out enjoying a particular event in the calendar.
To some degree, even this shooting of the Pentax felt like it was getting in the way of the day. But having that little bit of inspiration and motivation, and the sense that I wasn’t forcing myself to take photos just for the sake of having content for this website, resulted in me getting some photos that I am really pleased with. I’m pleased the Pentax didn’t let me down too, but I’ll come back to that more in my review.
The Hexar RF – total inspiration
Later on in the holiday, toward the end of one particular day, I was really hit with a moment of what I was consider to be proper inspiration. We were all just relaxing after a long day of doing whatever we’d been doing, the sun was going down and the kids were playing happily in the garden of the house we had let for the week. The light was perfect for the Ektachrome E100 I had loaded in the camera, I was in a great mood, and the kids were too. Getting the camera out wasn’t going to be a distraction from anything else I was doing, or get in the way of anyone else’s happiness. The kids were up for me taking a couple of photos of them, and I was in the mood to take the photos. I didn’t take many shots, I couldn’t be that bothered, but the couple I got were the shots of the whole trip for me.
The shot above and the photo at the top of this post were easily the best two photos I took on holiday. Why? Because the moment was right and the inspiration was there. My motivation wasn’t for the sake of a review, or even to capture something for an annual photo book of the kids. I was happy what I was doing in the moment, I was inspired by the light and by the happiness around me… in short, I was both emotionally and photographically inspired, and to me at least, it shows in the resulting photography… and even if it doesn’t, well they’re still the photos I’m most happy with from the holiday…