This blogpost was going to be called 'Keeping Inspired as a Photographer', then I realised, I have no problem keeping inspired, but I have a huge problem finding time to execute my ideas, and even worse, to really get 'involved' with them; to take them to the next level.
Life is a busy place; if you live in a city, even more so. Being a London Photographer means I am constantly given inspiration via all of my senses, whether that's from walking the streets, talking to the myriad people one meets or by participating in any number of cultural delights, be it eating great food, watching a live band or visiting an art gallery.
Some years ago I had a conversation with a Psychotherapist I met at a business-networking event and she helped me write out a weekly timetable that factored in time to do 'fun' things like visiting galleries or taking some exercise. As far as I'm concerned, this stuff is essential to keeping an open-mind and triggering creative ideas. It may seem luxurious to visit a gallery on a Tuesday afternoon, but really it's a research and reconnaissance mission!
I still have access to that weekly timetable, which I print off when I want to focus on a few key targets in a given week. Beneath the tabled agenda are these words from Nicole, the Psychotherapist:
"Keep this flexible! Always keep in mind long-term goals, but work clearly and patiently.
Let the pressures and the 'shoulds' go. Do one thing at a time. Go slow - stops crashes!"
Since I've been attempting to live in a less-agitated state (must do, got to do, rush, rush, rush) I have found way more equilibrium and allowance for myself not to achieve everything I intended to do in a day. There really is a limit, in time, energy and efficiency when it comes to living an agreeable life in the twenty-first century.
I had a particularly wild summer this year in terms of external events and inward emotions. It was great, but I recognised the wisdom needed to kick in, and that something had to give. I don't want that something to be my sanity, so I eased my foot off the pedal and have been attempting to filter in more downtime. Of course there's still been lots of fun, and plenty of late nights, but that's been my bag for years, so I'm cool with that!
My favourite inspirational quote right now is Do Less Better. I remind myself of this quote regularly, as for me, it sings. I cannot accept every invitation, I cannot do all the things I would like if there were two of me, so I have to choose wisely what I agree to doing both inside and outside of my work.
As we are in an age of the pursuit of self-discovery, another practice I have been honing is to hang around with people that inspire me. So instead of getting annoyed that your parents don't 'get' what you do (guilty) spend as much time with the people who do. I'd be nowhere without my peers and friends that allow me to do what I do without judging me...
People that understand why you're staying up until 2am because you have something you just need to complete, like this blog for example! Traversing London from one side to the other because you have to secure an item to execute an idea that's in your head. A little masochism goes a long way in the life of an artist, entrepreneur or madman!
As I only managed two days official holiday this year thanks to bad planning, I scheduled five 'me days' into my diary last week. That somehow turned into two very long days of catching up with admin and prop-shopping for a new personal project (talking of inspiration!) before spending two and a half days shooting said project!
What I had planned though was a day-trip to what has become a preferred bolthole of mine: Leigh-on-sea in Essex. It had got to around 11am and I needed to be back in London by 5pm to get home and ready for a Private View at the Printspace. I almost talked myself out of making the trip, but I am so glad I stuck to the plan!
I now had about three hours to explore, which involved some picture- taking along the beach, stopping for a salmon bagel, buying some sweets for use in my upcoming project - kinda knew that every seaside town has a Sweet Shop, and my piece de resistance - visiting the little gem of the Francesca Maffeo Gallery
On show was Alexander Missen's Q & A, a fascinating collection of images following Missen's journey across America, 'providing an examination of cultural symbolism and how the motifs we associate with America have affected the reality of place and people.'
Runs until 28th October.
There was an added bonus for me at the gallery, as in conversation, Francesca told me that the good folk of London Independent Photography had paid a visit, and there on the counter was one of my pictures representing the group on a recent promotional flyer!
In Twenty-Eighteen I intend to get stuck into my next long-term project. That's a year behind schedule, but you can only do what you can do! I will spend some time over Christmas researching further and hope that I can be fully involved with no cutting corners, and pushing myself to new limits!
I am hardly the person to demonstrate high levels of efficiency with my powers of distraction , but I am aware of the things I can do to stay on track and keep reminding myself of where I am heading (there is no final destination by the way!)