The very first play in The Photographer’s Playbook asks the reader to figure out what game they’re playing. So, I say to myself, “I’m creating because I have a creative drive.” But this needs to go deeper. What are my goals, how do I intend to achieve them, and what is the best way to go about this? All things I have very vague answers to in my head.
And then I remembered a quote from Netflix’s The Incredible Jessica James, spoken by real world playwright Sarah Jones.
“And you’re doing it. That’s why we’re here right? This is it! There’s kinda not more to it than that.”
And maybe, if there’s a way to be content in that answer, that’s really all there is to it. I am creating art, so I am an artist. Forget the fine art world, selling, amassing a huge following – I am exactly what I set out to be. That’s great and all, but in no way does it feel that simple.
This concept becomes more difficult at the heels of a long photo purgatory I’ve been floating in.
Until last night, it had been a month since I’d picked up my DSLR, and 2 – 3 weeks since I’d taken any other toy related photo. This, coming from photographing at least once or twice a week, if not more, for quite some time. I wouldn’t consider this a loss, had I been flexing some other creative muscle. But I wasn’t. I was simply exhausted, and while I had 10, maybe 12 ideas for images and series, with the supplies at the ready for at least half of them, I just wasn’t making them.
So if creating, is being in the art game, and thus living the dream – then how often do I have to create, to fit in that category?
Normally in a photo funk I’d simply proceed with life and let the pieces fall into place as they may, but that seemed to be such a far away chance encounter. Even in following my own advice, entertainment, pop culture, getting out of my head, gathering inspiration from others, none of it was remotely helpful. I did however, dive into a couple art books. I can’t say they led to immediate inspiration, but they did make me feel as if I was doing something – that I was on the right path.
And then last night happened. I came home a bit earlier than expected, tripod in hand (I’ve been using it at work while we wait for additional equipment to arrive), tired but determined. I piddled around my art table, looking for this and that, making sure I had everything necessary, and then I shot 4 photos. Precisely 4, with some metal figures I got from the flea market just over a month ago. The photos didn’t turn out exactly as I was hoping. But they’re on the correct experimental path, and I do like them as they are.
When I was done shooting, I wanted to shoot more, but I’m a planner, and a whole other series without proper planning didn’t feel right. So, I tidied my space, and went and sorted through/edited my new photos, and with it experienced a bit of relief.
I’d been putting my personal photos on the back burner for so long, they were building up into an enormous pressure. The moral of the story – sometimes it’s best to just create, if you’re mind and body allow you. The results of the shoot don’t have to be perfect, they just have to exist.
And in this eternal struggle to create, maybe that’s precisely what being ‘in it’ is.
“So I make myself the measure of photographic ‘knowledge.’ What does my body know of photography?”
-Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
What is your ultimate goal with your toy photography? Do you have a plan to get there, or are you already living it?