Why I stopped and lost the drive for taking photos – then I found it again.

It has nearly been a year since I wrote on this blog – I vanished – I dried out. I am making up for all the year past with the length of this first one – be prepared its a long winded one! Despite all appearances – I was energetic and bubbly for some but I knew deep inside I was at less than 50% capacity. I was worried of a friend’s burn out – overlooking my own, a physical one and a creative one ( yes there is such thing as creative burn out) . I did a triple whammy – mental physical and creative. Underestimating exhaustion and rootlessness, a state I have been wandering in for a little while now cost me dear. ” Chien-Chi Chang wrote in  Jet Lag ( get a signed copy if you can – it’s a work of art! : Wanderlust becomes rootlessness

As a holistic lifestyle coach I know too well the psychological and physiological effects of rootlessness – be it a physical and spiritual one. Over a year ago I felt something broke inside – I was worried – Have I lost it ? the magic? I use to felt compelled to snap everything and anything – for everything had potential magic. I was a child, Alice in wonderland everyday, amazed at the little thing – be on he hunt like a little child for the magic moments as if the world was full of easter eggs. I hovered between snapping what I find there in the in between a blink of an eye,  to acting my own fairytale and making up my own stories where I would play the lead character,  I would step in and respond to feel the need – the urge – the duty to illustrate a feeling, a question, a puzzle about something I see, hear, feel, am upset or happy about, link a line between two apparently random entities, to put it out there in image. Sometimes I dont even know exactly why or what I am trying to say – until it’s out there. I function on instinct, intuition, as often over thinking can alter innocence. There is a find balance to have between the conscious and directed and the subconscious while shooting. The vision – the image I saw and made sometimes preceded the analysis and the thought.It’s ok at times.

Something happened. Not an event – but a series, slowly but surely crept in. I resigned the luxury of having a home – for various personal reasons – London didn’t feel home anymore nor did I know where I was going to throw my anchor  – I became a wanderlust trying to find home instead of making one somewhere. This lead on on an amazing journey  and led me, amongst other things on the path to try to define what home is.

 

There is more to the rootlessness and wanderlust exhaustion that dried the drive for shooting, writing and making art work. I still did produce but it was as if I had a glass sheet between my heart and gut and the making – a connecting circuit was faulty – the connection wasn’t streamline –  I wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d wished . I didn’t shoot anywhere near  as much as I wished I did – the feeling inside was one of anaesthesia instead of deep connection to what I was doing. I was missing the kinaesthetic aspect of the drive. Thankfully I made up for this very important proprioceptive aspect and need in my life while jumping out of a plane 250 times in a year ( again with a view of shooting in the sky – whatever I do in my life can only be linked and related to art). It gave me a strange sense of rooting while in the sky while falling out of it 250 times and pretend I am flying – in my own fairytale. (now I just imagine a looping cartoon and laugh out loud)

I did still shoot – on automatic- often using my iPhone 99 % of the time for street photo instead of my camera — a kind of laziness occurred in taking my camera out of the bag. It was maybe a bit of novelty to me as I was new to using my phone as a camera – there was a bit of constraint and easiness there that   appealed to me. I ended up even using for some concept shots. At least I became proficient at using and editing on the phone  and in the meantime was Infected by severe Iphonitis.

I was  at loss with myself  – I felt I was swept away by a torrent of water exhausting me to keep afloat and trying to swim upstream to where I wanted to be – I didn’t want to give up but I was getting really tired, frustrated with myself , I couldn’t see anything anymore. But I was still shooting, often blindly.

 

Lost and found

However I barely looked at the images after – barely downloaded them –  I even lost a camera with a 16 gig of data I had not downloaded. Last september I decided to put some order in my mess, decided to get rid of all i had left in storage in London for good  – to thrown my anchor to root somewhere i had to lift it first right? I downloaded all the cards – onto my hard rive. A few days later my hard drive failed – I had dropped it admittedly on a trip a few months ago. Thats when I also realised the automatic back up I used to have had never backed up everything and all folders were partially uploaded. I took it to a place that normally recovers anything. Nada. All data lost. So there I was with data and photos lost – some I had exhibited and will no longer be able to fulfil the 8 edition and some I had not even looked at.

Tabula Rasa for me for 2016.  Which can only  be a good thing right? especially when it coincides the return of the fire burning inside. (Honestly – it was agony at first and guess what there is nothing I can do about it apart from avoiding this in the future.Let’s embrace  a new start.

The plethora of images in social media and else i think had a lot to answer for in my nausea and feeling too full for another bite or another serving. There when there is so much to scroll and I have been guilty when tired to aimlessly just scroll down adding to further visual overdose and well since I mentioned it before: exhaustion and overload. The sheer pressure of finding a spot in the very crowded and sought after real estate of the art world and the oversaturated social media content  – while ironicaly  I have no spot in the real world to call home was taking its toll internally and I disengaged deep inside. I still shot or acted in a “fake it ” to make / feel it. Just so that I didn’t look like i was giving up but deep inside I was struggling. Thankfully I have a very upbeat spirit and I was wearing yellow all the time to lift my soul again by placebo lol! I found myself needing solitude more and more and those alone moment were becoming more necessary and for longer periods of time. I found that sense of home and place to recharge and recentre in nature – usually by hiking and fining a spot a rock , perched above – high up where I will  make home for a few hours. I found myself even hiking on Lantau on a stop over in Hong kong between two planes to a secret spot / rock I knew and sit still for a few hours over there ( i secretly hoped to gaze at HKG skylines but the smog was too thick.)

12439545_10154413481271102_5970914682773502200_n IMG_9589
Standing on the rock #Lantau2016_Iphone – What I was hoping to see #Lantau_June2015_iphone.

 

It also brought to question : how do I stand out? how do I make a difference? how do I speak about something that will touch people in a different and personal way ? how can I have my recognisable stamp  in the ever growing crowds of “photographer” and Artists out there.

It is perhaps  what got me last year very frustrated with photography and led me to get out of it or texturise, become more physical with my images like adding embroideries – this old fashioned thing that takes time. (not that a picture cannot take time) or drop the photograph all together.

DSCN7386 Navigating through ones history and culture to thread a story.

I asked myself why do I take photographs, create art work, write poetry? 

It is a way of connecting to a deeper self and to people – touch them, talk to them, about them,  in a different way,  telling stories to raise question, take you to a place you don’t necessarily go, ponder about various question us as humans (women most often than men actually, well because I am one and I come from a place where being a woman isn’t always a blessing . It is a place where ownership of self – our bodies and life isn’t acquired. Taking photos is capturing the ephemeral, the frame between the frame the magic that happens then, but I also like to make photographs that speak of moods, rise questions and sometimes I just dont know – I just have to stage those visions I get and ponder about them later. A call for action and I most always respond present. I remember being often asked what kind of photography I do ? you seem to take landscapes a lot. It was an interesting moment because yes I do take landscapes but for me they have very little to do with the landscape itself than the mood they confer. Emotion is perhaps the word I would like to have associated with what I do ( aren’t all women driven by emotions? only joking ) In NLP we consider that we all function and process information articulate the world around us in four different ways   – some of us are more auditory – some visual – some kinaesthetic – some AD ( auditory digital – inner dialog or self talk – lists ). As a visual artist the obvious guess would be to say that I am a visual person…as matter of fact I am kinaesthetic and AD – Visual is actually my last tool of choice. Let alone that I am colour blind 🙂 .

Chien Chi Chang spoke of finding the beat when out shooting – find the rhythm for the click. I used to sing but i had forgotten the melody in the last year – i had singing totally out of tune to a tune I dont even remember. This year I am writing my own beat again, grow up a little maybe in a sense of slowing down ( ah the elasticity of time ) while keeping the child within alive.

The 3 months have probably been the most intense whirlwind  in my life and where I covered  enormous amount of miles in the shortest time – ( tired just thinking about it!) but also the most magical – in the highs and lows –  hitting rock bottom and touching the sky I have finally relit the fire again – a simili of centre.  It would not have been possible without the great friends I made during those crazy months and those I have in all corners of the world who supported me like blood family and the amazing encounters that reminds us that earth and the humans are amazing – in all their dark and bright side.

Cheers to 2016  – I will be here a lot more diligently  than last year!

“I am not afraid of death but of a boring life”

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3 thoughts on “Why I stopped and lost the drive for taking photos – then I found it again.

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