Creativity, Photography

Breaking The Curse Of A Creative Rut.

If you have visited my blog earlier, you will notice that it’s been almost 7 months that I have not written anything here. I was “busy”. Well, this blog wasn’t on my priority list for last several months. I couldn’t make myself sit down and write here.

What will I write about? Give more advice about to get out of a creative block when I myself am stuck in one? Discuss the works of other photographers who came before me while in truth looking at others photos were make me more and more crippled with self doubt and self criticism?

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

Well, I wrote articles on all these topics and still found myself battling with them as if it’s the first time that I’m stuck in a creative rut. I tried replaying my therapist’s voice inside my head, “It will pass. The more you try to fight it, the longer it will take to go away. Go and do something else, and eventually photography will creep back into your life.” The sweet reassuring voice that therapists have, you know?

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

So I did “something else”. Everything else. I studied, I danced, I wrote exams, I met people, I ate good food, I tried taking a course (not a photography course obviously). And it took me 7 months to get out of this rut. To get back into the “flow state” that drew me into photography in the first place.

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

My last post here was that I have started to HATE photography. And I wasn’t exaggerating. I was dreading to pick up the camera – whatever few photos I took in these 7 months were taken on my mobile phone. Then I cooked up another story to keep myself stuck – the entry level DSLR that I have been using for the last five years was no longer equipped to take the type of photos I wanted to take, so there was no point of picking it up and giving it a shot in making frames.

The story was serving it’s purpose well enough, till I was appointed to shoot a local football match and I was forced to use that entry level DSLR camera. The photos came out decent enough. And I gradually started entertaining the thought that maybe (MAYBE) I can still use my camera to take “good enough” photographs.

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

Maybe I was taking too many photos from the beginning of the year 2021. Forcing myself to do project 365 wasn’t such a good idea as I look back at it. I personally don’t think these kinds of projects are suitable for me. I tried doing a 100 day project in 2020 where I was making a sketch everyday, and I had a massive burn out around day 70. I couldn’t continue with Project 365 for more than two months. I wonder how other people manage to complete these.

My skills have exponentially increased during both of those challenges / projects. That I can’t deny. I started finding my personal style in photography, and in sketching, I was able to complete sketches in one sitting instead of taking a whole week earlier. But I could never really avoid the burn out that follows. And the burn out is so severe that I start hating the craft itself.

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

This time I was reading Seth Godin’s new book THE PRACTICE – SHIPPING CREATIVE WORK and this excerpt really stood out for me:

We’re not born to be selfish. And the economics of living in community make it clear that short-term hustle rarely benefits anyone. But when you’re flailing and looking for something (anything) to stand on, there’s pressure to choose the selfish path. To a drowning man, everyone else is a stepping-stone to safety.

Seth Godin, THE PRACTICE
Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

This is exactly what I was struggling with when I wrote my last blog on this website. I wrote:

I don’t know whether I or the people I care about will make it to the other side of this – India has run out of medical oxygen, vaccines and medicines, the hospitals have run of beds to accommodate patients, and there are not enough burial grounds and cremation facilities for the deceased.

In the middle of all these, it feels selfish to care about one’s own art – simply selfish.

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

It feels selfish to subscribe to a hosting service and write articles when I have no real credential to do so. I know there are still some people who visit this blog even when I have not posted anything for such a long time, and I have no clue to figure out who these people are. It feels futile to scream into a void and seeing some digits on the stats page for this website. I am not aiming for higher numbers here on my stats page, but I guess it’s not so selfish afterall to document my journey here.

Still life photography kitchen.
© Sanchari Sen.

So on Sunday, I made this bold choice of photographing just anything. To write another article, of ANYTHING! And I came up with the photos that I have attached to this article. And I am proud of how they turned out. And it was such a relief to finally come out of the rut.