Traveling and taking pictures simultaneously can be quite a struggle. Often, we are sucked into the travel-routine and forget to see all the magic around us. Sometimes we even can’t see it, when we captured it with our camera. Rediscovering old journeys can help to stay motivated and also find some gems in the bin.
How to deal with all the work?
Some readers might have realized that Marleen and I became a little lazy during the last weeks and missed to regularly write blog-entries. There are different reasons:
- We are very busy at the moment. I have been and am still writing for magazines and newspapers, while I start to do some research for stories and set up new photography projects over here. Marleen is wandering around and finalising her thesis.
- We have both been roaming around but did not find valuable content in it.
We are sorry for that; we are working it out.
When crazy journeys become every-day life
This is where my story starts. The topic is well connected to writing, photographing, podcasting and producing content in any form. I have recently started out freelancing and it showed me one thing: There are so many amazing topics out there which you can discover.
While you are dealing with a certain project, it becomes more and more normal to you. When you start out it is pretty exciting. Over time, however, you tend to lose the feeling for the value of a project.
I give you a little example: In May 2017, I went on a motorbike-tour through the upper Himalayas, in Ladakh, India. The whole tour was a crazy adventure. The way I got there was hilarious. I went part of the way by feet, because the road was blocked by avalanches. I hitchhiked with shepherds, army-jeeps and trucks. I was the first tourist in the season.
In a perfect world, would you witness all the beauty?
When you are surrounded by a perfect environment, you might be amazed in the first moments. If you live in this environment for a longer time, you will take many things for granted. In Germany we have free-health care (well okay, we have to pay the insurance), good public transport and many more great things. Yet, I don’t walk around with a smile every day. I will rather complain if the train is 10 minutes late or if I have to wait a while for my turn in the hospital.
The same happened in the Himalaya. I took some great images; I had an amazing time. Okay, the high-altitude-sickness really sucked. Yet, the weather could not have been better for photography, nor could I complain about overcrowded places or a lack of good compositions. Summed up: It was a present from the photography-deities.
But I lost the sight of it.
Rediscovering what you did
There were a few administrative-issues that made me leave after five days. I packed my stuff and drove away. On my way back, I slept in a hotel and processed the images. Some seemed really outstanding to me, while others did not look too promising. I marked them with stars, exported a few and uploaded them here and there. The rest got lost on my external drive.
Recently, I decided to take a look at the lower-rated images, to delete the ones, which I will REALLY never use.
I was shocked!
There were so many amazing images of the journeys, which I already forgot! I could not understand how I ever dared to rate them with 2 out of 5 stars. I have been slandering beautiful landscapes. Within all these amazing experiences, they did not stand out and I gave them a lower rating than they deserved. Today, almost two years later, they amazed me.
These images took me right back into the situation. Empty landscapes, moon-like, a blue sky which I have never seen so saturated before and after that trip. Even the moments when I took these images came back to my memory. I could not only rediscover, but also feel the landscapes. Now, back at home in Germany, I could finally value them from a neutral point of view.
The solution: Step back, rediscover what you are doing
The lesson is not just one for photographers. Whatever you work on might be special. Especially if it is a hobby, there is a reason why you started it. The best researchers, artists, sportsmen are those, who learned to value what they are doing. Persistence is the key to success. Even you do something special every day, it still is special.
Some friends of mine work in really cool areas. They chose their jobs, because they were interested in it. Yet, after a year or so, they just say “Yeah, you know, still the same. Nothing special.” – Well maybe not special to them, but surely to everyone who does not know about it.
It helps to look at old projects and remember that you did not find it special, while you were working on them. Before and after, you did!
Double-check when you are in a crisis
Maybe, if you will take a look at your current “boring” work a few years later, you might find more value in it. Just imagine your future-self looking at what you are doing now. If he or she is proud – you are probably doing the right thing.
If not – Maybe your imagination is too weak. Or you are really working towards a dead end. Telling friends about it can also be a good check, even though most of them are motivating you anyways. When I had little breakdowns in India, for example at the biggest gathering on earth, I felt like I was doing the most stupid thing on earth. I called different friends and spend ages on the phone. Everyone told me, I should stop crying, because I am gaining the best experiences. They were even jealous of my miserable situation.
And I had troubles seeing what was so outstanding about it!
Same comes with the blog. Writing every week, we might think that our topics are not so interesting. Maybe we just got used to them like I got used to the amazing Himalaya-landscapes. Maybe I should take a look of all the topics, I did not write about.
Sometimes, you find gems in the bin. Every image that is shown in this blogpost was ready to be deleted, before I rediscovered the beauty in it.