It is time, once again, for some monthly reflection.
It’s not been a great month, if I’m honest. Although I’ve been churning out posts reasonably frequently, I’ve spent most of the month’s posts complaining about creative block. If you can’t tell, it’s still here, hanging around in my head like a light, nagging hangover, dumbing the creative spark that I usually harbour.
This sort of thing has happened before, although it was quite obvious last time, because there was very few posts between September and December last year. That said, that time the desire to take photos had waded a little as well, so I just wasn’t shooting at all.
This time round, I’m trying to fight it; I’m still going out and taking photos, processing them, writing posts. But it’s difficult. I’m finding myself looking at a scene and not discovering the right angle, or firing the shutter and not getting the desired result, or not even feeling the location enough to unzip my camera from my bag, and this is frustrating to say the least. Admittedly this stuff happens to me at the best of times, but right now it’s happening most of the time, and it’s infuriating when I really want to be taking pictures.
The knock-on effect of this is that my self-confidence, itself not typically something that healthy, is taking a bashing, and I’m not too sure of many of the images I’m processing. In turn, I’m then not really writing things up because: 1) I feel I can’t write well enough to do the images justice; 2) I’m not too confident in the images I’m posting; and 3) a lack of likes or comments then only serves to make things worse. Thus, the cycle continues.
So what can I do about this? How can I get myself out of this funk?
Shooting my way out isn’t working so far, but I’m thinking this is in part because of the subject matter I seem to be picking. Shooting ‘still life’ type images is hard, because effort and creativity needs to be put into making the subject interesting. I need to go and shoot things for a while, because short of a bit of framing you can usually get away with just capturing the subject (see: Bournemouth Air Festival, March of the Squirrels, and sports). That’s my theory anyway, but the next step is finding such subjects. The majority of the stuff I’ve shot in the last month or so has been more static and less action (including the swath of images I’ve taken but not posted, which alarmingly includes some stuff shot on the last day of May).
I’ve also joined a gym, primarily because a physiotherapist told me essentially that I was a scrawny streak of piss and that my back muscles were as useful as wet cardboard, but the secondary hope is that it will help get the creative juices flowing. There are hints of this working; I seem to leave the gym with a bit of a spark, but it never seems to make it much past me getting home.
Another plan is to drag Catherine and Simon out for another photography trip of some kind. Working alongside them in Borough Market led to great images from all three of us, so there is the hope that by shooting alongside my peers I’ll be challenged or inspired.
I’ve also bought a few new toys. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll already know what they are, otherwise I’m sure they’ll turn up in a post sooner or later.
I’m also considering taking a break from photography and/or this blog. Hopefully this will let my brain reboot a bit. I’m not convinced this will work, not least because I’m currently finding myself bored easily so I’d have trouble distracting myself and unwinding (I broke out Call of Duty for the first time in months last week; I played a few rounds then got bored and turned it off). If I manage it, though, it will probably end up being spontaneous, so don’t be surprised if I fall silent for a while.
Finally, I’m trying out a fresh lick of paint on The Daily Photo to see if that kicks any life into it.
Anyway, that’s all now, when this is supposed to be a retrospective of the month past.
Really, there were only three posts in June: a trip to the Waterhouse Plantation, a tug of war match, and an Instagram set. However, I tried a bit of experimenting in post style, attempting to see if shorter, more focussed posts went over more successfully than longer, more wordy ones. This saw the trip to the Waterhouse Plantation spread out over four posts, hopefully with less words and less reading effort than if they had all been in one post. I’m not convinced it worked. Partly I think this is because the cloud in my head I keep complaining about is leading me to hold on to, and post, some substandard images that I might have deleted on another occasion. This in turn makes me feel like I’m milking the content a bit. From a statistical perspective the individual posts had less hits than I’d normally expect for one of the longer posts (case in point: the most popular post of the last thirty days? The four-month-old Borough Market post). As I mentioned in the last of the Waterhouse posts, I’ll not restrict myself to one format or the other in future, and will instead let the content guide me.
I’m reasonably pleased with the quality of the images I’ve taken this month. They’re certainly better than the images I was taking this time last year. I’ve learnt a lot since then, although at the moment I’m finding it quite easy to forget what I’m supposed to know.
As I say every month, The Daily Photo is still chugging along. I’ve made a few changes there this month, however. Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve given it a new look, which I’m trying out for a while to see how it gets on. I also changed the displayed title from ‘The Daily Photo’ to ‘Creative Splurges Daily Photo’ in the hope of increasing the reader connection between that blog and Creative Splurges. To that end I’ve also changed the post formats a bit; now, each post contains the CreativeSplurges.com logo, and a link to the original Creative Splurges post the the image was featured in. I has served to drive a small amount of traffic back here, but not a huge amount.
On a related note, I’ve finally gotten my head around the Creative Splurges Tumblr page. It is now just how I like it: a page of images, sourced from here, The Daily Photo and my Instagram feed. There’s nothing else, save for a quick block of text at the bottom. The images, of course, lead you straight to the relevant post.
Looking at the numbers, Creative Splurges had 671 hits in June, up from 594 in May, finally reversing the decline that’s been continuing steadily since March. Total hits are a smidge over 48,800, so it will be a couple of months at least before I hit that magic 50,000 (depressingly, if you remove the 43,000+ hits from that Freshly Pressed weekend, I’d be talking about reaching 5,000 hits soon).
The Daily Photo however is continuing on a downward trend. June had 337 hits, down from 554 in May. That’s a record monthly low. I’m now near enough halfway through the year so it will be interesting to see how the trend develops, but truth be told I am currently contemplating shutting it down at the end of 2012.
Engagement-wise, most posts on Creative Splurges had 10 or more likes, which is very, very encouraging. Sadly, very few comments, which is just the way of things, it seems. The Daily Photo continues its impressive ‘like’ record, with pretty much everything liked at least once. As ever, some have three or four likes, some have fifteen, and it remains something I find myself completely unable to predict.
I don’t know what July is going to bring. I’ve got a few posts I need to write, but they’ll probably take a bit of work before I feel they’re ready (especially that elusive portraits post I often mention, whose shortlist is now near enough 100 images). I’m still planning on taking a break, if I can, to get my head straight.
One positive I can currently take: I’ve managed to write up this 1,400 word post without too much difficulty.
Thanks for reading,