This past year has been a draining force in many aspects. From the pandemic doom and gloom to the 24 hour political circus it just feels like a never ending ride to hell and back. And somewhere along that ride it felt like I lost my creative spark. The urge to go out and photograph was gone. So was my desire to write. It felt almost life draining. I had no desire what so ever for the faintest thing creatively.
I can’t pin point exactly when and where I lost my creative spark. If I had to estimate it was roughly from the time of the Carole Baskin murder debate to about when Clark Griswold forgot the chainsaw to cut down his Christmas tree. A lot happened in those months and it took his toll on me like it has with a lot of people. And the problem with losing your creative spark is trying to reignite it and nothing works.
As a creative, it doesn’t matter the discipline, you seek out inspiration to stoke those creative fires inside. I really didn’t have any inspiration. How could I? All my gigs dried up thanks to Covid and all of a sudden clients for my digital consulting business decided that now isn’t a good time to outsource work. My creative outlets were gone. I tried to find ways for inspiration. I started an OnlyFans page. Turns out I was my only fan.
For months my camera just sat there untouched. Baseball came and went fast and my camera collected more dust after the season. It was lonely shooting baseball during a pandemic. I loved that I was able to get out of the house and photograph sports, but it wasn’t as fun. When I got the call that I wouldn’t be shooting NFL this season that was the punch to the gut I wasn’t ready for. I was felt like if anything was going to pull me up from the doldrums it would be on the sidelines of the NFL.
My notepad was full of blog topics and still is. I have all these topics for my photography website, for my digital consulting company and for my own personal blog. Just like my desire to not pick up my camera, I felt the same way about picking up a pen to write or trying to come up with some new design for an Instagram post. I felt lost and defeated. There was no creative spark, just darkness.
When I tried to write I would go through my usual routine of putting on my headphones and have a drink by my side to loosen up the words a bit. Then I would just sit there in a hazy fog. Fingers on the keyboard, but nothing was being typed. My mind once full of cheeky clichés and witty one liners was empty like the shelves of toilet paper at Costco. I tried, but nothing.
I guess one salvation was Twitter. Reading tweets from others sharing that they were going through the same thing as me was comforting in the I’m not alone kind of way dealing with this. While some openly used the term depression to best describe what they were experiencing, I felt depression wasn’t what I was having. Maybe I was lying to myself and I was depressed. I just knew that any joy I once had from a creative aspect went faster than the $1200 the Government gave us back in April to help us make it through the pandemic.
In reading their tweets I realized I wasn’t the only one unlike my OnlyFans page. Afterwards I found myself back to meditating and trying to find myself and not finding empty rum or scotch bottles on the counter. And sure enough I got a call from the NFL to shoot a game. Then another one and then another. It was great because I wasn’t just confined to shooting at Hard Rock Stadium. They had me in Tampa one week and Jacksonville the next. Those road trips at 3 and 4 in the morning were therapy. Driving back after shooting the game was a whole other type of therapy. The drives back were a time for me to reconnect with a podcast that always inspires me to think and be creative. It’s the Chase Jarvis Live Podcast and it’s been amazing from day 1. Like most things in 2020 it got lost along the way too in my Spotify rotation.
In shooting those games I got to reconnect with other sports photographers that I know and even met a whole bunch of new people that I knew from Instagram. We talked and shared similar experiences with the struggle to find work or all the new protocols in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. It was fun to talk light and gear or complain about the refs blocking a touchdown. It felt normal if there will ever be such a thing as normal. The dark slumber I was dormant in was being broken up by the light of hope and potential.
That creative spark wasn’t extinguished like I feared, but it was merely being covered up by all the negativity that 2020 conjured up like Winifred Sanderson. Yes, we all got kicked in the ass pretty well by the virus, the government and all the other bullshit we had to deal with. Along the way I got lost, creatively speaking. I think we all got lost along the way. We all just lost something different. While I’m still not where I would like to be; I’ve made changes to help me get there. Like most things in this life I go along for the ride. The whole ride. All the way to the end of the line, wherever that is.