Taking a break from your passion is OK.
It’s called many things, burnout, a holiday, self-reflection, personal time or recharging your batteries. Whatever you call it, it’s OK to step away from your craft, it might even be necessary. For myself, I put the camera down, stopped writing and deleted my social media from my phone for two months, I needed to step away and take a creative break. This is why you might need it too.
I found myself doing the same thing over and over again. I’m not talking about consistency, style or routine but rather the boring old same thing day in day out. Autopilot took over, I was no longer pushing myself or my creativity. I was just taking a photo, processing it, printing it and posting it on social media. The passion and meaning behind my captures were beginning to fade. When I realised this, I stopped myself from permanently forming this bad habit.
I worked hard to form a style and consistency in my work. I trusted my eye and what I’m inspired by. I use the same camera, same lens, I print on the same paper. I use the same film and preset. I crop to the same ratios. I was following my process too closely and what I was inspired by. I never wondered from my chosen path of inspiration, minimalism, meditation, composition, philosophy or concept. Giving myself a daily regiment was good for productivity but it wasn’t good for my soul in terms of originality. I was doing it just for the sake of doing it, not for the love any more. I felt like a hamster on a spinning wheel, just going through the same emotions not getting anywhere. As a result, nothing new came from my work.
Only looking forward is a great way to get to your destination, but doing so you miss the scenery. This was the exact determination and vision I had with my craft. I wanted to be the best I could be, I wanted to exert myself, putting in the hours to continuously push out new work every week. The problem arose when I realised that creativity can’t be treated like a machine. You need to take in all your surroundings you need space and time to breathe, process, contemplate, create, fail, learn and just be. These things don’t happen through willpower and force, it’s only when I stopped that I smelt the roses. Creativity isn’t a set course its a journey with twists and turns. If your only looking forward you never see whats just to the left or right that could change your life. As a photographer, I didn’t want to miss a moment, just because I thought I needed to be somewhere else in my career.
These three factors resulted in burnout.
I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to change, I wanted variation, a surprise, a challenge, so I stopped. I stopped looking at other peoples work. I stopped writing about what I thought. I stopped picking up the camera. I stopped myself from visualising a photograph. And I started looking at different things. I looked at my personal health, my daily habits, my mental health, my personal time at the end of the day. I reflected on my relationships, personal and creative. I realised I wanted to miss photography, and to do so I needed to step away from it.
It took me two months to miss it. It took me two months to get the desire to take another photograph, and that was OK. It’s OK to burn-out, it’s good to self-reflect on what consumes your time and what isn’t giving value to your life. I recognised that social media wasn’t contributing to my time in a positive way. I realised that writing and taking photographs were providing positivity to my life. But sharing my images on a daily bases on a social-media platform did nothing for myself, my well-being or my craft.
If you ever need to take a break from your craft, don’t feel bad. Putting the camera down doesn’t mean you won’t pick it up again. Do what’s best for you. The holiday seasoned is a great time to relax, to reflect on the past year, and contemplate what you want the future to bring. It’s OK taking a break from photography.
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