A Momentary Lapse of Reason
About this time last year, I finally upgraded and bought a new camera body. I had spent the previous 5 or 6 years shooting with an outdated D300s with a broken LCD screen (you can read about that here). I remember how excited I was as I unboxed it and started playing with the settings and testing how well it could handle shooting at high ISOs in extremely low light. It felt like Christmas morning as a kid.
Somehow that excitement wore off quickly, like literally in a matter of weeks. I booked a couple of shoots because I realized the camera had been sitting in my bag untouched, except for the occasional photo i wanted to take of my daughters. A lot of the shoots I had booked never came to fruition. Some of them were canceled because things came up for the model. “Don’t worry, it is cool. We can reschedule another time.” The reality for me in those moments was a sense of relief, like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. Some of the shoots were canceled because of, well, me. The excitement of having booked something new had slowly turned into this sense of foreboding. “You’re going to fuck this one up, Shawn. Why are you going to waste their time?” I am not sure how or even when this change occurred for me. Photography was no longer fun to me. Shooting, lighting, editing; things i used to love so much had deflated like an old balloon. I had zero desire to pick up the camera for any reason whatsoever. The motivation to edit/process photos was simply gone.
This came up last night while I was talking with a friend. I had sat down to finally set about fixing the issue with Photoshop and Windows Ink causing my tablet to be an over-sized paperweight collecting dust. Convinced that all the steps I had taken were going to work, I fired up Lightroom and Photoshop to get caught up on editing the digital images from the past 3 or 4 shoots I had done. I scrolled through my LR catalog until I hit the 2019 folder. And then i just stared at the screen, dumbfounded and bewildered. I had only shot 8 times last year. And two of the shoots that I had planned to finish editing last night, I had shot them in July. Even worse to me, the photos I had managed to create last year were just really flat and lack luster. Not because of the people I had worked with. This was all on me.
There are a lot of reasons why last year was so unproductive for me, for why I had lost all desire. It wasn’t just my photography that had been affected. Skateboarding. Friendships. Relationships. Family. I had pretty much managed to disconnect myself completely from all the things that used to bring me joy. I had created incredibly convenient excuses to just waste an entire year doing nothing, literally doing nothing while sitting in my house. Depression and anxiety is real, y’all. And within depression and anxiety live manic episodes…one day you wake up and everything feels great; like top of the fucking world great. But then that high starts to wear off. Wait, who am i kidding? It doesn’t just wear off. It falls off hard, like you weren’t paying attention to where you were walking and just stepped off a cliff, falling in to what feels like a never ending abyss. And then somehow right before you hit the bottom of this void, everything feels wonderful and amazing again.
There is some good news out of all of this though. I read a LOT of good books. Discovered and listened to some incredible music. Created new routines to replace the stagnation. Even managed to pick up the camera and create some again. Every day isn’t great still., but it could always be worse.