Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Photographers. We're Like Therapists.

Ever since the end of my photography project I have been struggling. For the first couple of years I felt drained, tired, and emotionally worn out. As the years progressed it shifted into something else but I was never quite able to put my finger on it. It seems that not a lot of photographers, specially documentary type photographers, talk about the toll it takes on your heart and soul so I haven't ever been able to articulate it until today.

Lately it feels to me like everything I shoot is complete crap. That connection I was able to make with all of the people I photographed in the project was no longer accessible to me so photographing people really has been complete crap. Every time I pick up my camera over the past few years it's felt forced, fake, and I completely overthink all of it. Or I've completely forgotten all of it and I spend a huge amount of time beating myself up over it and feeling like a fake. The farthest thing from a photographer. 

Being a photographer is part of who I am, though, so I felt like I lost that part of myself and lately it's really been fucking with me. Old thought patterns are trying to push their way into my brain so they can make me feel less than, not good enough, and a failure. I hadn't realized how much it was affecting me in other parts of my life, too, until I could put my finger on what was happening. 

After battling with it again this morning, I finally reached out to another documentary photographer to see if I wasn't just making this shit up. Thankfully, I have a couple documentary photographers in my life so I messaged one of them and asked if she ever felt like everything she shot was complete shit. After a good "LOL" she helped me realize just how much we give when we shoot. We give our patience, our heart, our knowledge, our love and our hand. Not just a hand but a Mother's hand that says, "You are amazing. Let me show you and the world." We enmesh ourselves with their lives. We carry their stories on top of our own. Specially within a marginalized community. 

Letting go becomes so much more important. I've been carrying around those stories ever since our lives enmeshed. It's time to let them go. 

Our conversation ended with this, which I want to quote here so I can come back and remind myself, "You are a warrior. A storyteller. An artist. And you are unique. Your point of view of life through the lens is amazing. You can grow. But you cannot shrink. The artist heart grows and grows. So fighting it is impossible. You may just need a different road to walk down."

I'm sure I will battle with this more but for now, I feel a sense of peace that I haven't felt in a while. I got my D300 back from the shop today with a brand new shutter. Because of how I was feeling about things after talking with my friend, I took it out for a bit this afternoon. Unfortunately, I've misplaced the cord to get the photos off of it so I can't post any photos that I took with it. 

I am grateful to my friend for taking the time to hear and see me. It felt good finally articulate what was happening. It felt good to shoot again with my D300. I am blessed.