creativity tips

When your passion is your job: the 'Meh' syndrome

Turning your passion into a full-time job. It's a lot of people's dream. Everyone deserves to wake up energized, ready to conquer their day with a smile and be happy to start working. We are part of the "lucky" ones, we've made it happen by opening Scandaleuse full time a year ago. Yet, being a photographer full-time (or any creative careers for that matter) can also burst your creative bubble.

 
"Submerged: Pisces / Aquarius" by  Deanna Colosimo

"Submerged: Pisces / Aquarius" by Deanna Colosimo

 

Meet your Little Muse

I like to think that we all have a little muse that follows us around. I picture mine as a mini-me who throws ideas out of nowhere. She's the one that's like "hey let's cover that model in pink glitter and put her under the rain okay? It'll be awesome!!". She has taken me on some glorious photoshoots, and sometimes, I have had to ignore her because seriously, this idea was way too insane. But the thing with muses is that if you shut them up too often, they just go somewhere else. See you sucker.

We wrote a blog post a while ago about dealing with creative funk when you are doubting your work and feel like you can't seem to produce anything good. Well this is a different kind of funk: it's the "meh" syndrome. Your drive has been AWOL, like it's on a vacation in Mexico or something. And Fanny and I have contaminated.

The "meh" wall is silently building itself.

Without you noticing. Sneaky SOB.

Truth is, we have been insanely busy with both of our boudoir and wedding divisions, working our first wedding workshop, booking sessions, finding new locations, taxes, admin tasks. There is no one else but us behind Scandaleuse, so naturally we have to take care of the not-so-fun stuff on a regular basis. No surprise here, welcome to Managing your business 101.

Anyway, it felt like something was wrong but I just didn't know what it was. I have been feeling constantly tired, my excitement for our current projects was close to the ground. The energy I had for new projects was slowly being shattered by real life, unnecessary stress and unreliable people (YES I SAID IT!), making the process a lot less enjoyable. Picture your little muse pulling on your sleeve to get attention and you flicking her away because, hey, you don't have time, alright?!.

The "oh sh*t" moment.

I was sitting in my living-room/office, scrolling through Instagram & Pinterest and I realized I was dodging any beautiful and creative posts from other photographers. Why? Because it gave me a weird feeling in my stomach that I had been shutting down for a little while. The ugly truth is that I was feeling envious. Envious of artists showcasing their awesome work when I felt like mine was just "meh". I was not looking at other peoples' work because I didn't want to see better work than mine. After all, we pride ourselves to push our own creativity limits here and this made me realize that we hadn't done it in what felt like an eternity. I mean reeeeally done it.

We had just stopped putting our creativity first. Which is super ironic, considering that our creativity is our bread and butter. It is why people hire us to begin with.

But life got in the way, we are dealing with other things that, yes, need to be done, but have been taking all of our time, leaving no room for brainstorming crazy ideas like we used to. The only moment my drive was back was when we were actually shooting with a client, I guess Little Muse is responsible for that too.

 
Double-exposure-creativity-boudoir-jessie-lam-toronto-yoga-scandaleuse-photography.jpg
 

It is time to grab the bull by its horns.

We have been thinking outside the box our entire lives and there is no way that Scandaleuse becomes "just" a job with standard quality. We swore to make it exceptional for every session (that's actually why we shoot in different locations) and we lost sight of it for a second.

Making your passion your career involves turning it into something quite commercial to appeal to the masses. Because hey, you gotta make some $$$, your work needs to be consistent, and not everyone wants an insane photoshoot concept.

But we need to make a crazy idea come to life once in a while. We need to do shoots for fun and more importantly: we need to make time for it. So I started my own list of super cool ideas for shoots that may not happen immediately, but are here when I will need them. I have put one into place already, and I had forgotten how much fun putting together different photoshoot styles is. It is thrilling and I know I want to live my life that way.

Little Muse is back, baby, and she's ready to rock.

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Dealing with creative funk

This one is for any creative person that feels the need to create content constantly and/or is required to do so professionally. If you feel like you can't do anything right sometimes and you start doubting your work... Three words: we feel you.

 
Dealing with creative block - Scandaleuse Photography
 

The creativity juice

You know the thrill you get when you create something new that people appreciate? Your heart beats faster, you are full of energy, you are smiling from one ear to the other and you keep coming up with better ideas every day. Until one day.... Mic drop, curtain closed, no creativity juice left. Take a deep breath, it doesn't mean you suck.

Find the cause

What triggered this sudden block? Did you get a bad feedback? Are you dealing with personal problems? Do you think everyone is better than you? Did you sleep enough? Are you hungry? Did Tim Horton's stop your kind of Timbits ? (it's a problem in Canada, alright?). Whatever started this, if you identify it, you can start to fight it.

Putting things into perspective

People, we don't need drama, alright? We already have so many reason to stress out nowadays (see Timmie's horror story above). A creative funk is not the end of the world and will happen (again). We are not magical robots that can create ALL THE TIME. It's impossible. You will create things that will suck. But you will have some that will rock.

We asked other artists to give us their opinions about dealing with creative blocks and we have put together a little list of things you should try when you feel like you are stuck.

Take a break.

Have you even been out today or have you been staring at your laptop trying to invoke your muse? A change of scenery is usually the trick for small creative funks. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, talk to people. After you read this blog post please.

Luke, talented musician, says: "Remember you cannot cannot unless your mind, body & spirit are in alignment. Breathe in the fresh air and take a moment to acknowledge how good of a job you are doing. This will clear your negative blocks."

 
Dealing with creative block - Scandaleuse Photography
 

Be okay with failure.

Actually, stop seeing it as a failure, see it as a lesson. You did something, it didn't go right but now you know what to do to improve. Put a Hello Kitty bandaid on your ego and off you go. After all, you wouldn't have any successes without failures. So they are kind of necessary.

Get inspired.

A lot of creative funks come when we lack inspiration. A good way to get it back is to… look for it everywhere you go. Pinterest, books, blogs (eheh), artist in your field (or not) you love, podcasts… We have access to SO many sources. I personally have a weird obsession for Youtube videos of people accomplishing things and showing their routines for success.

Jason says: "You need to explore. Viewing different things will help spark your curiosity and give you that imagination back."

Let me crack my knuckles like a badass before I type this. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

This is the first cause of creativity death. There is always someone better than you and the sooner you get that, the more at peace you will be. Funny enough, someone is probably comparing him/herself to you, thinking you're better. Endless cycle. Look to others for inspiration, not competition.

As Luke, yes again, it was good alright, said "Thrive off of other people's energy & stories. When I have no fuel to write music I may look at someone else's situation and get inspiration from them and tell their story through my music. "

Challenge yourself.

Some people need to force their imagination. Our dear friend Rai, fashion photographer extraordinaire, says: "Just walk around downtown and look at banner, ads, signs, then ask yourself: have you done something like that? Do you wanna do something similar? Start taking a few reference shots, upload to pinterest and then pin related contents. Just make sure to set a mood and tone first!"

Brainstorm with yourself. (preferably after taking that fresh air.)

Get a piece of paper and a pen (or a tablet for millenials) and write anything that comes to mind. Any rough ideas you want to do, any long term or short term goals. When I start freaking out, I also write the projects that I have coming up to prove to myself that I must be doing something right and that I have things to look forward to.

Mike, drummer and productivity master adds: "Just start writing... Then read that piece of trash and refer to your notebook of ideas... Realize you should've just started there. Seriously though, stock pile your ideas when you're in the zone."

 
Dealing with creative block - Scandaleuse Photography
 

Shake things up

When I start feeling unhappy about my creativity, it's usually because I don't manage my time properly to do everything that puts me in the right mind. It's a sign that I should probably change my routine. My last freakout involved my adding more workout and cooking time to daily routine because I enjoy that and I know it makes me feel content and thus productive. And the more productive you are, the more energy you will have for your next idea. Snowball effect.

Hopefully this has helped you to go all "FATALITY" on your creative funk. Remember, it is perfectly normal and you will get over it at some point. You have what it takes. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some youube videos to catch up on. Someone is cleaning up their entire apartment and it's bringing me joy.

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