Tristan Parker Photography


Digging out of creative ruts through writing


I have been in a bit of an artistic rut lately. I dont know the pin point reason for this, and I guess I dont even know if there is a single reason, or if there are few things that have come together to result in the lull in productivity. Since I started to get back into making images with a camera about 12 months ago now, I havent had this happen yet, so its causing me a little stress. When I remove myself from the situation and sit back and try to be objective about the scenario I am not overly concerned. I know deep down that I will come back again. But its sometimes hard to be removed and objective, so I thought that I would write about it in the hope that maybe penning these thoughts would act as the conduit that I needed to return to some form of productivity.

I think that I have sort of brought this on myself a little. I will cover why in a sec. What I will point out first is that I am busy right now. I dont have a heap of time for doing stuff. I am busy in my real work, sort of need to make some money to pay the bills. But you know what, its not a bad busy, its a good busy. We are undertaking a massive project and I am smack bang in the middle of the whole thing, and its fun. Time flys during the day and I am putting in some long hours.

I then have a second job that I work a few days a week. I am a SPIN instructor. Indoor cycling. Its also very good, and I also really like doing the classes. The groups I have at the moment are a great bunch of guys and I really look forward to these classes. And I get paid to stay fit, so its a bonus. On the fitness front I have also taken on another massive challenge and have signed up to run the Cradle Mountain Ultra in Feb next year. Its 83k, and this is going to come round fast, so I need to put in some hours running.

I mentioned that I might have brought some of this on myself. What I am referring to here is the fact that I just got a new camera. I got a Leica M6, and I am just learning the ropes. Its also not the first new camera that I have got since getting the first first new camera 12 months ago. Its not the first new lens and its not the first change of equipment. I have been a bit of a GAS head as people like to say. This needs to stop. I need to get used to the equipment that I use. This process takes times, and I have to understand (and I do) that my results are likely to be a little compromised for a while. I also started out back in this photography caper with a digital camera. My output of images was massive, so the fact that I am only shooting about a roll or two of film a week might just feel like I have slowed, but my image results and hit rates for the shots might be about on par, there are just less of them.

Film is funny like that I think, I just love the process, and you know what, its harder to work with, and the process has a lot more pit falls that you can fall prey to that digital. When you make a mistake youre making it on something thats tangible. It just feels like it has a little more meaning to it when it goes bad. The inverse is also true though, and when you have success its all the more fulfilling. Its just what I am used to. Its pure and historical. Its what I think should be used to make images. This is just my thought though. I love some of the work that is shot on digital, and I dont think any less of a great image that is captured on that medium. I just dont think that its for me anymore.

Staying on the film front, I have also set up a darkroom in the last month. I have been starting to print again, and am also retracing the steps of my youth and going through learning processes all over again. My production rate is down, but my enjoyment is still there. There is something comforting for me about being in the dark under a safety light. Maybe thats why they call it a safety light.

I have written in the past about finding balance in life. Its very important, and I dont know that anyone would argue otherwise. What I think is interesting is that as one matures in their life they have hindsight. They are able to look back and know that they have scme and gone from things throughout their existence and they will come and go some more. I think that the important things will always be there in some way shape or form, but they may just be a little on the back foot while you ensure that a few other things are taken care of. Its just important to make sure that perspective is kept in check kso that the distress caused by not being able to spend all the time you want doing the thing that is the most important to you at that time doesnt become overwhelming.

So I write as I sit in front of the TV and relax after work. I post a few photos in the blog, images that I may have even shared beofre, but I am careful about their selection in the hope that I will gain just a little motivation. Remind myself that even though I didnt take an image with my camera today, I might do so tomorrow.

I think about the words as little as possible as they flow from my fingers, in the hope that what I type will stay with me as a further gentle reminder that I have a passion that I love to spend time doing. I have the tools that enable me to do it. If I think back to my late teenage years and try to imagine if I would have ever conceived having the tools to take images that I have right now I dont think I would have thought I would have them in my wildest dreams. Way back then my M6 would have been brand new. State of the art. Expensive. I need to put myself in that place more often. That place is where people should go when they are feeling unsatisifed with where they are and what they have. Not only should the perspective give you some contentment within yourself about these things, it should also act as a reminder of what you were able to produce with much lessor tools. It should also, and this is probably the most important part, provide a reminder of all the things that you have done to become the person that you are at the moment.

Even if you would change some things about yourself, in most cases they wouldnt be wholesale. In most cases they would just be minor, so think about the time that you spent learning the trades and passions that make you who you are. Spend some time remembering what you always wanted to be. Spend some time making sure that you still make new goals dreams and wishes, so that in another 20 years youre about to spend some time thinking about them.

I have some ideas, and some concepts that require studio work to get them out. I am going to make these ideas happen. I am going to find a model, and shoot the shots that I have in my mind. I am going to motivate myself to make these things come to fruition.

There we have my little therapy session. I feel a little better for getting this down on 'paper'. I really do like the process of writing, and sharing. I find it relaxing to let my mind wander a little. Its sort of a semi unconscious process at times really. Just letting the thoughts drop to the keys. Some of these thoughts have been inspired a little by some books on Zen that I have been reading of late. Maybe a post on my reading list might be in order at some point.