Participating in photographic projects requires many things: patience; vision; skill; creativity; flexibility and inspiration. Of all of the photographers I’ve come across who have participated in the 365 self-portraiture project, every single one has identified with one common feeling – reaching the point where they feel simultaneously uninspired and unable to even look at their face any more, let alone take a photograph of it and then post it on the internet. This is the curse of the 365 self-portraiture project, to which there is only one cure… To pick up your camera and take another photograph.
Today is day 252 of my fifth consecutive year of the project. Totalling, that means it’s also day 1713: I get so sick of my face, you can’t even imagine. Today I’ve been putting off my 365 despite the fact that it’s a weekend (I try to be a little more creative on Saturdays and Sundays – there’s more time, and if I’m lucky I’ll get to take a photo outside whilst it’s still light!) and now it’s past 9pm and my mind is completely void of creative ideas.
In these situations I have two token reactions: to go for something totally crazy with candles and/or face paint, or (and definitely the more often used of the two) to understand that it’s unrealistic to expect myself to create something I love on a daily basis. The latter will often involve a photograph being taken using the tried combinations of my hands/my feet/a silhouette/a hair flip/a cat/something not involving my face.
I don’t know what the photograph I take tonight will turn out like, but I do know that the feeling of frustration due to not being able to channel my inspiration into a photograph will be something that I feel as keenly tonight as I have for the past few weeks. I’ve been finding it particularly difficult to feel enthusiastic about taking self-portraits. This is partially due to the fact that it’s taken me about 6 months to get up-to-date with my Flickr uploads: even now, I’m twenty days behind! Being able to see all of my past self-portraits in a row makes it easier for me to think and nurture new ideas without feeling repetitive. Another reason is the lack of photographic inspiration in my life at the moment: both My Face is my Canvas and The Teleidoscope used to be constant sources of inspiration and support for me, but they now seem stale and ghost-town-esque. When the administrators for a group cease to participate in challenges, there seems to be a complete loss of direction.
It keeps occurring to me that the best way to stay inspired is to have a supportive atmosphere wherein photographers are both supportive and supporting, and inspire one another – in the exact same vein that both of the groups mentioned above used to do for me. Here’s to hoping some similar groups float my way soon!
What do you think about photographic groups? How do you stay inspired?