Yes!!!! Our fabulous Columnist Janine Graf is back, with a vengeance! Fresh in from taking the Overall Winner Prize at the MIRA Photo Exhbition (see here), she’s on a roll. I just love this article and I’m pretty sure you will too, whether you personally suffer from ‘passion block’ or not. Don’t miss this, take it away Janine…(foreword by Joanne Carter).
“Hi everybody! It’s been a really long time since I’ve written last; I blame my eight month long creative funk, or what I’ve dubbed more appropriately, “passion block” (it started as a simple funk and morphed from there). For this article I’d like to share with you some things I’ve been through and some things I’ve learned over the months; some relate to my passion block and some I thought were just worth sharing, because I have a tendency to over-share. But we artists all go through it; we all have times when we lack the passion. And let’s face it, it’s hard to be creative when you lack passion. My passion for bacon cheeseburgers on the other hand has never subsided, go figure”.
So for starters, last October my family and I moved from the west coast to the east coast for the sole purpose of adventure, and there are several things I’ve learned since moving from Washington State to Massachusetts:
- In the wintertime it is hard to shave your legs when they are covered in goose bumps. I don’t know if it’s entirely the fault of the goose bumps, or if my razorblades were (always) dull, or what, but I’d come out looking like I had road rash. Decided going “au natural” in the winter is the smartest, and warmest, route (can also read as: laziest).
- In the summertime humidity is a game changer. There just aren’t enough oil blotting papers to keep my face shine free. I’ve officially given up. If you see me coming, put on your sunglasses.
- There are amazing birds in New England. If you have ADD and you install a bird feeder outside your kitchen windows, prepare to never get anything done again. Side note: I do appreciate my traveling-tap-dancing-squirrel-circus of a brain. And I’m not the only one who “benefits” from my squirrely brain either; I provide amusement, and a purpose of sorts, for my family while we are out in public. For example, they have created a game and it is loosely called, “Where did mom wander off to now? First one to find her gets M&M’s”. Hint: I can usually be found in an aisle or department with shiny objects, or anything colored orange, or anything containing large amounts of sodium. Also, if there are fish tanks nearby, check that area first.
- But probably most importantly, I learned that just because you move to a new state on a new coast with new scenery, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you left your creative funk behind. Apparently I packed it up with the rest of my junk and brought it along with me. Harrumph.
When we hit the open road heading east in early October of 2013, I was on the cusp of a creative funk but easily dismissed it. I believed my muse would return with a vengeance as soon as the moving truck was unloaded and life returned to normal. Wrong. I landed on the east coast assuming I’d feel refreshed and awake creatively, eager to get out and start taking pictures of my new home state. Wrong. What actually happened was the exact opposite.
By December, I found myself disinterested in photography, I just didn’t care anymore, and that made me both sad and sort of freaked out. For many years photography was all I thought about it and it gave me immense joy; how could I suddenly no longer care? What the Hell was happening to me??? Not only that, but being a photographer had become a part of my identity, so who in the Hell was I supposed to be now?! So here I sat on a new coast, with no family, no local friends (Connecticut and New Jersey don’t count as “local”), and no identity. Awesome.
On January 1, 2014, I thought that maybe the solution to my dilemma was a 365 photo project. I figured if I was “forced” to take at least one picture a day and upload it somewhere for the masses to see, I’d fall in love with the craft again. Wrong. I ended up resenting the project almost immediately. I think I lasted 22 days and 80% of the images were total garbage.
Winter passed and turned to spring; spring gave way to summer and by this time I was officially done with the entire photographic / artistic process. Done. Game over. I started feeling anxious and unhappy; my husband was getting concerned about me. I told him I was feeling lost. I went for long walks and focused on fixing my now screwed up spaghetti sauce recipe (the ingredients I used to rely on aren’t exactly available over here – jeez, maybe this relocation was a mistake after all?) . . . and I began to wonder what my next hobby could possibly be.
As is the case with all things in life, nothing lasts forever; I started snapping out of my funk about three or so weeks ago and it began with an email. Stefano, one of my very first contacts over on Flickr, wrote to tell me he was worried about my absence. Said he missed seeing my images in his contact stream and wanted to know if I was ok because it wasn’t like me to be absent for so long. That email, that reaching out, really took me aback. I was surprised anyone even noticed I was gone. So I decided to stop feeling so lost, because quite honestly I was starting to hate my identity-lacking self, and uploaded an image to Flickr as I yelled a battle cry, “For Stefano!” It was an image I took while playing in my backyard with a Styrofoam airplane glider. I took that pic for a girlfriend back home months earlier, and I liked it just barely enough to share on Flickr.
I was shocked at the response I received on Flickr. Fellow photographers I really admire and respect wrote to tell me how they missed my work; how happy they were to see me back. Many asked where I had gone off to and several told me not to leave again. And just like “that” [snaps fingers], I felt a rush of newfound enthusiasm I haven’t felt in nearly a year. I didn’t realize how much I missed this photographic community! I felt almost tingly in my fingertips . . . it was either from the newfound enthusiasm or a mild heart attack from all the bacon cheeseburgers.
The following day we drove to Provincetown, Cape Cod and I saw this as a great opportunity to put my newfound enthusiasm to the test. I was standing on the beach and was literally giddy with excitement over the fun I was having taking pictures! I think I even danced a little jig in the sand. I felt whole again! After the long day, I came home, excitedly went through my camera roll, and started going to work on making some surreal type compositions. The images I created from that day trip have become some of my personal favorites to date. It’s only been a few weeks but I feel like I’m already back to my old enthusiastic self. My iPhone camera roll is now full to bursting with new pictures just waiting for me to do something with. Hoooo-ray!
Thank you for reading my little story of self-discovery, or re-discovery, or whatever you’d call what happened to me; an identity crisis? Here’s to a very productive, passionate, and funk free rest of the year, for all of us! Btw, there have been many birds at the feeder and it took me nearly three days to get this article out of my brain and into a Word document . . . the chipmunks chasing one other outside haven’t helped either . . . and my spaghetti sauce still needs tweaking . . . but my legs are smooth so I’ll consider that a win, until wintertime.Tweet