Photographer’s Anxiety: Making choices
Today I finally have a whole afternoon that I can print photos. I scheduled it that way, and have been looking forward to it, particularly because a group of my photographer friends are coming over tonight to share our work.
“This will be great!” I thought, “I’ll have so many (wonderful, of course) images to show!”
I’ve been sitting here for the last 45 minutes, browsing through photo shoots with hundreds of images, trying to decide which ones to print.
And feeling totally anxious, truly, physically anxious…my chest tight, hard to breathe, body tense.
What’s that about?! This is supposed to be fun!
I’m looking…looking…trying to choose…
I have photos from Martha’s Vineyard in June, photos from my brother’s visit and our trip to Galveston in July, photos from my niece and family’s visit to my mother’s in Connecticut. Photos from my latest move, images of my latest storage home :), images from the first day I moved into this beautiful housesit, squirrel images, rain images……aaaack!!
And I want to print them all…RIGHT NOW.
But I can’t print them all this afternoon. Why not? Because I’m not just printing snapshots, I’m printing fine art prints. Which involves making light and color decisions, choosing the best image among similar ones, making paper decisions, trying out prints, seeing what works best, coming up with the ultimate version that makes me happy.
And that takes time. And now I’m already running out of it. And I feel like I have to choose “the most important” images in order to use my time well. Plus, ok, honestly, I want to have something wonderful to show my friends tonight.
What else? Ahem…a little deeper: There’s a whole emotional piece here, the proverbial elephant in the room.
I can’t decide whether I want to go the family portraits route and get into that emotional connection, go the landscape direction and be in expanded ocean feeling, or go play with artsy documentation of the moving transition I’ve been making.
They all sound good! They’re all different feelings! I want them all! Now!
And any one of those directions also has the potential to make me feel…conflicted. Not as talented as I’d like to be. Bored. Wishing my life were different.
Crazy-making, right? No wonder artists get such a reputation for being neurotic! I guess we are 🙂
But “neurotic” in a good way.
I like my standards of excellence. I like seeing that I have many choices of artistic direction.
I like the feeling of creation and finally getting into the flow and seeing magic happen as the photos emerge on paper.
And I realize that there’s also the flip side of the creative process: the resistance, the fear of failure, the feeling that it must come out right as soon as possible, the not wanting to “waste” time even though you know that “wasting” time is actually part of the process.
The wanting to have it all, express it all, share the urgency of feeling/seeing all of this beauty and spirit with others, yet knowing that others may not appreciate it.
Hmm, another life theme as well as a creative challenge. Wanting to do it all, resisting making choices, wanting to know the “right” one, afraid of wasting time. Wanting others to appreciate my efforts. Forgetting that my life’s path is not a rational, straight line, and that any choice will make things unfold, and the adventure will continue.
Enough! Here’s what I’m going to do.
Stop writing this blog.
Embrace my anxiety and delight in my artist’s dilemma (this anxiety must mean I’m a true artist, right? 🙂
Go in the kitchen and eat lunch.
And return ready…
…to be an amazing photographer, in the flow, listening to my inner knowing.
Ready to make some choices, let go of perfectionism, see what my spirit finds to play with, find the magic, and enjoy the process.
Ready to share the outcome, whatever it may be, with others.