Normally I start each year with some new photography plans, involving what I would like to learn over the course of the next year, any challenges I would like to try and genres I fancy attempting to learn or improve in. However, for the last six months or so I have been feeling very lost with my photography, I have not known what direction I wanted to move in. Its not that I lost my mojo or motivation, it was more a lack of direction and it has taken a lot of soul searching, exploring and discussion with peers before I finally felt good about my journey forward.
Over the last 3 months I have been honing my skills in macro, more specifically with focus stacking, which I have enjoyed to a point, but the whole process has been very rigid and precise, which stifled my creativity a little. Taking up to 200 photos for one image, coupled with the lengthy set up procedures and the nightmare of constantly running out of storage space plus my computer repeatedly complaining at the ridiculous processes demanded of it lead to me feeling less than satisfied. This was a far cry from the " losing myself in the moment" type of photography that I love, taking me away from the therapeutic, mindfulness side of creating. Don't get me wrong, I am happy with some of the images I've produced, but the process was not feeding my soul. One decision I have made is to still follow this path with macro, but to mix it up with my other plans so that my computer doesn't pack its bag and leave home 😄 and so my brain can still enjoy a bit of escapism with other ideas. Which means 2023 will involve more focus stacking and macro stereo 3D images, but not week in and week out.
Being a member of a couple of very friendly and supportive Facebook photography groups has had its benefits during this process. I opened up about how I was feeling and received a wealth of bolstering, encouraging posts full of suggestions, some of which I decided to take on board. During the same week there was a post advertising a free online mini course all about food photography as a business. Food photography was at the top of my radar for starting to learn about, so I jumped right in. Health restrictions meant I was unable to fully participate in taking the photos on the specified days - I tried but struggled just to poach an egg, never mind set up the shot and take it. Instead I concentrated on learning what I could day by day. Even though it only involved a couple of hours watching and learning each day, I was completely exhausted with all the extra mental activity, its astounding just how much M.E affects cognitive abilities as well as physical. I made notes for myself and was able to catch up with the last videos a bit later. The information included covered many areas, as we were encouraged to ask questions, received critiques and feedback, as well as guest speakers. The business, marketing and website advice was eye opening, having changed so much over the years, certainly something I need to brush up on if I want to earn from photography. All in all it was a brilliant week and I'm very grateful to Emma Dunham for running the course, highly recommended. Do check out her website and food academy.
As a result of the course, coupled with my attempts to produce some food photography images for a competition, and discussion with peers I have found my motivation has soared. I feel inspired again and know which directions I want to pursue on my journey over the next year or so. You guessed it, food photography is most definitely one of those choices, but I need to find ways to make it possible, because I am still unable to manage energy demanding activities, which means adapting, learning new ways that I can do this. Planning is going to be the key thing here, I have already learned that I need to write everything down, broken down into steps, because I forget and get muddled too easily. I have already made so many mistakes in my first attempts as my brain became too muddled. Michael had the brain wave of breaking everything down into steps, written down. On top of this I need to plan how to approach food photography over a few days, as I have discovered that doing it all in one go is too much for me, having a knock on effect of making my symptoms worse for several days. So I can plan one day, set up back drop/set top/lights one day, organise props one day, prep what food I can another day ( some foods can be prepared a day before as many food are made to appear fresh by using various tricks) This will leave my energy to get creative on the day that I shoot. But I won't do food photography too frequently unless I can get creative easily, because I don't want to end up feeling the way that I have, I need the type of photography where I lose myself in the moment. I'm going to mix it up with a bit of still life too.
That is two areas I will be concentrating on, two projects as such. The next is one that was suggested by several members of the wonderful SheClicks group, I have joined 52frames this week, it involves taking a photograph based upon a theme each week and should get me trying new things. This week just happens to be food, next week is details. I have joined a SheClicks subgroup which I didn't know existed - SheClicks 52frames, which I'm sure will be friendly, helpful and inspiring.
Others things I am considering looking into this year include exploring the idea of producing a book, looking into doing a webinar and possibly being involved with some youtube videos. I want to do short online presentations but due to cognitive and memory difficulties which can occur after even short conversations I do not currently feel comfortable or confident in this approach, so I think that a pre recorded webinar which I can break down in sections could be a way forward, but I need to get to grips with how to do the video and slide presentation - I have tried but for some reason my brain has struggled with some of this, but I'm determined to find a way to do it, even if I need a bit of help to get started.