Mel Collie


Writers Block - Photographers Block

If you have ever had a moment when you just wanted to jack it all in and sell the camera and lenses on eBay, take a few more moments to stop and think about it.

A wise piece of advice on a recent workshop with Paul Kenny & Doug Chinnery, was to notice when you are stuck in a rut and work on through it.

It happens to almost everyone. Which, if its you, statistics don't really matter, you just feel that you've had enough. A bit like closing down an Instagram account, then a few months later, wonder why you did that and reopen it. However, when you sell your camera, its a lot of money to buy another. So hold on for a while and see if it is really what you want to do.

How can you overcome that feeling of wanting to give up?

One way.. is to write

Get a pad of paper and pen and take it with you when you go for a walk

Maybe you aren't inspired anymore by the sunrise, the sunset or anything else inbetween. The macro images aren't doing it for you, the slow shutter speed has been done time and time again. Your inspiration isn't connecting anymore.

Take yourself off for a walk, with absolutely no expectations whatsoever of what you are going to achieve at the end of it.

When walking, stop when something catches your eye, could be texture, could be colour, could be movement.

Get your pad and pen, begin to write what you see.

Where are you. what are you standing/sitting on
What colours do you see
What textures are you seeing and touching
What smells are you picking up on
What patterns do you see
What does the air feel like on your skin
How does what you see affect how you feel
Are there people around?
What do they look like?
What are they doing, has one person stood out in particular?
Whats their story?
What kind of day are they having?

What emotions come up as you write.

Write it/them down. Notice them.

Theres no right or wrong, just write. A word. A sentence. A paragraph. A page.

Allow your brain to bubble. Sit and see what it comes up with. Write freely.

Its just for you, no one is going to judge your words. Write any old thing, the more you write without restraint the more will come up. Don't try to be poetic.

See what comes up. Usually its stuff we aren't considering, or indeed are aware of.

For example -

Sitting on a wooden bench, different tones of weathered grey wood, lines and swirls, feels smooth, soft but hard to sit on. Wonder how many people have sat here, who they were, what they were thinking, if they were in a rush, if the bench allowed them to slow down and to think for a while. Were they happy. What were they looking at what caught their eye. The ivy curls over the feet of the bench and has started to travel upwards, a few new buds on the ivy. The spaces between the wooden slats are even, show the leaves in the bushes growing behind, colour of the blackberries starting to change.
Shapes of leaves are spiky, jagged. The space under the bench allows my feet to be tucked under on the concrete which is cracked, deep in places and take different twists and turns, shapes, lines, weeds poking through,  yellow dandelion budding. Theres a spider and a woodlice crawling across concrete, ants looking for things to take back with them. A bee buzzes by my ear. Where has he been, where is he off to?
Rain starts, splashes of water change the colour of the wood. Smells start to change. I smell the freshness of the rain. Clouds darken, shadows disappear. The atmosphere changes as clouds move overhead. Light changes . Mood alters.

The possibilities for the mind to wander here are endless.

The possibilities for a photo, too, are endless.

The ivy curling as it grows around the bench.
The curves, lines, patterns.
The texture of the wooden slats before/during/after it rains
How the rain changes that texture
The smells the rain brings, how that affects your senses.
The space between the slats.
The light changes that the cloud movement creates.

When you feel stuck, take to your pad and pen and write what you see, how what you see makes you feel.

If it feels right, transfer your words to your camera to take that image. Your emotion, your story, come through.

This doesn't mean that the person viewing your photo will feel the same way, we all have our stories, we all have our own internal dialogue that we bring to the table.

Writing helped me to organise my inner story. Feelings. Thoughts, of which we have thousands every day. Writing takes you away, mentally, for a moment, to a place where you can find clarity, focus, without noise, without too much stimulation from social media, the phone, the laptop, the worries, the anxieties. It is, for some, a meditation, like a focus on the breath.

It might just help ease your flow and be a good thing for photographers block.


Melanie CollieComment