Have you ever heard of writer’s block? A similar phenomenon can be experienced by artists of all varieties. Though you neither lack for talent or time, you just can’t seem to create anything of substance. It’s frustrating and disheartening and makes you second guess your worth. You can feel like all you’ve accomplished in the past must have been a fluke. You’re in a fog that you can’t see your way out of and you have no hope that you’ll ever find your artistic voice again.
I remember a time when I couldn’t put my camera down. I saw beauty in everything and everything was worth remembering. I took pictures of winter snowflakes and spring leaves, happy smiles, and terrible tantrums; life was full and abundant and I couldn’t get enough of it. I couldn’t wait to meet my next client, shoot my next session and pour over the images afterward. But life can’t always be full and abundant. Hard times come and when they hit me, I didn’t want to have any tangible reminders.
I began to hate photography and the not-so-good memories it preserved for me. I couldn’t see beauty in anything anymore. I stopped picking up my camera. I typically kept it prominently on my office credenza, never taking the time to put it away because it was so frequently used. But one day I packed it all away and left it there. Weeks went by. Then months. Still, the thought of using it, of documenting anything surrounding the hurt I was experiencing was overwhelming. And I couldn’t escape the hurt because it lived in me.
I ignored my business, stopped marketing myself and referred my inquiries elsewhere. I removed myself from the community of artists I had taken years to foster relationships with. I was in pain and felt I had nothing to offer anymore. It has been over two years since my life was turned upside down and I am finally coming to terms with it. And as I do, I discovered something wonderful. My camera was still there, waiting. Like a faithful friend you try to hide from and then upon opening your eyes, you realize they never left you alone.
I won’t lie or puff myself up by heralding my skill and vision. The truth is that I’m rusty. Really rusty. I feel like I’m learning things afresh and starting over in a way. But I don’t mind a fresh start. I think it’s just what I need to find my voice again.
And I want to encourage you, the artist reading this who knows exactly what I’m talking about. You do have something to offer and you can find your voice again. It may start out as a whisper but it will grow louder with each passing day until it’s cry is deafening and the thought of silencing it seems inconceivable. Hold on until then.