Photographic slump

It’s over halfway through 2019. I have shot two and a half rolls of film in 2019. This fact fills me with a cold, creeping feeling of guilt. How many box sets have I watched in the last seven months? How many hours have been wasted, sat in front of Netflix, watching something I probably won’t remember in three weeks? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Different to the art block, where nothing creative can be achieved, this is the feeling that you could be doing something worthwhile, something worthy, if only you’d get off your arse and do it.

It’s not that I’ve not been to anywhere interesting, and so haven’t had the opportunity to take photos – at Burning Nest this year, an arts festival (*cough*excuse to get mangled in a field*cough*) I took barely half a roll of photos. My Olympus XA4, loaded with Fuji Venus 800, brought back from Japan by a very generous and lovely friend, was the perfect choice. And yet – only half a roll. Maybe I could say I was too busy enjoying myself to take photos. Maybe I could say that it’d spoil the moments shared with others, to stop and take photos. But those feel like excuses to me – look at so-and-so, who shoots multiple rolls a week, develops the photos themselves, prints in their darkroom, etc etc.

I can’t even blame lack of equipment on my slump – I bought a Pentax LX, the best SLR ever made by Pentax, a couple of months ago – I’ve put one roll through it since I got it. I’m building and perfecting a darkroom in a cupboard, to print my own shots at home. I backed the Chroma camera kickstarter, and received my camera in November last year, but haven’t attempted a single shot with it yet. Why?

Honestly, I don’t know. I have been busy – we brought Haus Mojo to Burning Nest again this year, which took a lot of planning. We had weddings to attend, birthday parties to go to (perfect opportunities for photography), and yet – I’ve only managed to squeeze out a few worthy images. I carry my XA4 in my bag wherever I go, but never seem to find the inspiration to take any photos.

I’ve suffered with depression since my late teens – for no better reason than anyone else suffers: chemical imbalances, family predisposition, despair at the state of the world in general. I’ve taken medication for it before, but it’s never helped, only transmuted the feeling from melancholy into a grey, foggy nothingness. It wasn’t worth the side-effects, so I stopped. Creative pursuits are often cited as a temporary relief from depressive episodes, but at the moment, they’re not helping. I’ve started going to the gym – people are always banging on about exercise being good for mood – it’s not really helped, but maybe I’ll shift some of the excess chub I’ve put on in the last year or so (every cloud, and all that).

I am proud of the few articles I’ve written for Casual Photophile, but even that outlet is growing stale at the moment – with no photographic output, I feel like a fraud when I write articles – who am I, with my two and a half rolls in 2019, to impart advice?

Maybe learning a new technique would help? I’ve never been any good at portraits, perhaps if I spent some time getting confident with taking portraits, it’d kickstart me back into the swing of things. At the very least, I need to attempt some photos with my Chroma – I was kindly gifted a lens for it, and the guilt would only compound if I didn’t use it.

Do you have any tips for getting over a creative slump? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Photographic slump

  1. Marcus didius falcos 15/07/2019 — 8:59 pm

    Dear Charlotte,
    A good blog post(if a bit unsettling).
    Ways to get you photographing:
    1/Join a photography group-having contact with other photographers could provide useful social/photographic interaction amd/or inspiration.
    2/Organise a photowalk-see reason 1 above for the benefit(s).
    3/Volunteer your services as a photographer to a local charity/group(I myself am a volunteer photographer/vice chair for Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association).
    4.Take part in film related competitions e.g. Analogue Wonderland “Focus on the Positive”, Jason Avery’s forthcoming Camera Challenge on Twitter.

    Hope these ideas are okay. The important thing to remember is don’t feel guilt about not shooting-we all have our slumps:)

    1. Charlotte Davis 15/07/2019 — 9:09 pm

      Hello mate 🙂 Thanks for the tips – all really good ideas. I’m loathe to commit myself to any more events or social gatherings at the moment, as my weekends get pretty full, pretty quickly. I have thought that maybe I need to build in some time to go out and take photos on purpose, though – not just as an aside to what I’m already doing. I did also consider taking part in Jason’s Camera Challenge too – maybe the August one is the perfect time to start!

  2. I get that way too sometimes, feeling loath to pick up a camera. The only thing that pushes me through it is to pick up a camera anyway. I get out one of my favorites (usually my Pentax ME), load one of my favorite films in it (Fuji 200), and go to one of my favorite places for photography — and take pictures of things I’ve taken pictures of a hundred times before. I make myself do it. It’s like priming the pump. After a couple rolls I start to feel the mojo again.

  3. Have you tried pinhole photography? I’m just getting into it, it’s fun! I only just found your blog and this is the first post I’ve read, so apologies if you’ve covered it already.

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