Losing hope and finding little joy in your creative pursuits is a warning sign of an impending creative depression. I’ve battled it many times and know the self doubt it brings. To battle creative depression I’ve always revisited the source of my inspiration to see what moved me in the first place. For me it’s been a reliable way to rekindle a photographic passion within.
The ingredients I use/d are re-reading books that have had an affect on me, re-watching movies with beautiful cinematography and a powerful story line that make me watch over and over again, looking at photographs that touched the deepest parts of my humanity, and to stop whatever I was working on to take a break from my self doubt to restart my creative and photographic passion.
We’ve all hit brick walls creatively where everything feels stagnate, stale, and the idea of continuing on feels pointless and unfulfilling. Sometimes these walls we’ve built seem impassable and impossible to take down, but the truth is we can rediscover our passion through others’ creative works.
Finding Water In a Creative Drought
One creative drought was in my early twenties writing my first novel. I had reached a half way point that made me want to trash everything. I went back and reread it and thought it was absolute drivel. I became hypercritical about what I had written, and began believing I had just wasted weeks pouring my time and soul into a creative pursuit that was worthless.
I needed something to focus on instead of my work, so I put it in a drawer and started reading my favorites books again. I reread the Great Gatsby, The Old Man and The Sea, The Master and Margarita, and a few others, and then it happened. Something I read sparked inspiration into me and an important plot point popped in my head. I realized that my creative passion stems from inspiration and being inspired by others’ creative work.
All of a sudden I went from being drained to being on fire again, furiously writing the novel and completing it in just a few weeks. Every creative work was inspired by something or someone else. Every photographer was inspired by a photographer who came before them, and so goes the chain of creativity that perpetuates itself over and over again by inspiring future generations of artists.
Finding My Photographic Passion Again
Last weekend I found my passion and love for photography again. I watched Sebastião Salgado’s documentary, The Salt of The Earth, and was moved by his story. He went from being an economist to being a full-time photographer. His talent allowed him to shoot all over the world to shine a light on people that had been forgotten or neglected. He embedded himself for years with these people, and was able to shine a spotlight on those who needed help most.
He witnessed so much inhumanity, destruction, and death around him, that he lost his faith in it. He was reborn again when he and his wife Lélia replanted a rainforest on his father’s land, which had died from drought. The rebirth of the rainforest brought the light back into Salgado’s life, and became to work again. After this he was able to create Genesis. He was inspired again by the rebirth of his dead land.
You too can find inspiration in just about anything if you’re open to finding it. Sometimes the walls we build become our preoccupation, and they dictate how we move forward in life. Finding photographic passion again will help you tear down these walls.
I compiled a list of articles I’ve written over the last few months about my philosophy on photography. Perhaps they will hope helpful for somebody.