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I'm losing interest in photography - is it permanent or temporarily creative block?

nerwin

Been spending a lot of time on here!
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Before the pandemic I was definitely at the height of my photography where I was enjoying it the most and when the pandemic hit and I stopped going out, I became pretty depressed and doubled down on social media, needless to say I became rather addicted. That year I gained the most followers and sold the most prints, sounds great right? Well it didn't feel right and quickly led to burnout and not feeling fulfilled anymore. I realized that I wasn't enjoying it anymore, I was only taking photographs solely to get likes/validation - you know to feel good. But we know that doesn't end well.

Things slowly started to decline.

I made the costly mistake of switching camera systems multiple times to try to keep the inspiration alive but that didn't help much, it was only temporarily inspiration until the newness wore off and quickly hopped back into the same boat.

Recently I decided to forego all my social media accounts. I deleted them all, including my own website, nobody was visiting it anyways. Social Media has been the hardest thing for me to comprehend. My logic side of my brain knows that likes don't mean a damn thing but it wants to be validated badly too. I was spending at times 8-12 HOURS a day on Instagram, sometimes 2-3 hours just researching hashtags to get the maximum reach. When I didn't get the response I was hoping, I became pretty upset and that voice in my head that keeps telling me I'm a failure. But when I had photos that became popular on the platform, man I felt great. Everything was great, the inspiration filled my head and went out and took MORE photos. Gotta love that powerful drug of Dopamine.

But those days were few and far in between. Everyday I was using Instagram to essentially dictate my mood for the day which obviously isn't healthy at all. Photography was turning into something I once enjoyed and made me feel good into something that I started to get angry and stressed out over. So after one really bad day, I deleted all my social media accounts thinking that it would somehow improve things. Maybe it would get me to take photos for myself again, but it didn't.

I took a few months off doing actual photography, apart from a few snapshots here there to keep the camera and battery good. Looking at lightroom, in the past 6 months I barely taken 100 photos and I'm usually in the upwards for a couple thousand by now. I've gone on road trips solely to take photos and ended up not taking a single one. I often find myself forcing myself to take pictures but in reality the motivation and inspiration isn't there. I feel empty inside, I don't feel the flame anymore. Social Media was gave me a purpose to photograph which is pretty sad because I feel like the entire time of my photography journey wasn't even really for myself but for others.

I don't feel like I ever had a connection or direction with my photography. I don't even fully know why I got into photography in the first place, it was something that kind of just happened. I think mainly I was into tech at the time and I loved how cameras worked and the tech involved in them, that was cool to me. It was fun to take photos to see what they look like.

Do I want to give up photography? I don't know. I do know I feel lost currently and partly blame my social media addiction for this.

I've tried a lot of different things, not much is really helping. I came close to deleting all my photos off my hard drives just to forget and move on but I know that's obsessive but part of me sometimes do feel like starting over in a way and do things different.

Has anyone here who had a dark time during their photographic journey? What helped you?
 
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Yes had the dark times
i could not go to camera after died. She was part of my photography life, times moved on this year I did manage to go to 80% of club nights.
dont delete images you WILL regret it later
 
In mid 2020 during the start of the "pandemic" I purchased a 10-20mm Sigma in EF mount. paid around $600 for it. Had it on layaway and when I picked it up, I took it home, put it into my photo equipment cabinet and I literally didn't touch a camera for more than 6 months.

Most recover, some dont.

It really up to you as to how you want to handle it. Some times you have to break away and let things settle.
 
Most likely temporary. Give it a rest and don’t force things. If you love it, you will come back to photography and take pictures for yourself. I mostly shoot film, limit the pictures I take to a few, the work flow relaxes me and I don’t participate in any sort of social media (forums aren’t social media, right?). On the other hand I‘m not as passionate about photography as I once was.
 
Photography for me is just one of many ways i express my creativity. You can't force it, and It's not about the equipment, software, social media or likes. Actually all of these that so many focus on, are creativity killers. Instead of focusing on yourself, you start trying to please everyone else. I can be creative with a simple camera, a brush and some paint, a pencil, a block of wood and a sharp knife cooking, gardening....the possibilities are endless when you forget about all that other stuff. The point is that the creative juices ebb and flow, and aren't necessarily limited to only one one medium. Having multiple outlets helps prevent burnout.
 
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I agree with what the others have said here. It sounds like you fell victim to the trap of social media - getting the "likes" is what becomes the most important thing. You have already learned that it's a bunch of hooey.

You started with photography as a fun way to express yourself creatively. And in innocence turned to social media platforms as a place to post them - the usual reasons, to get feedback and possibly help with the craft. Somewhere in there it turned.

But hey - as Smoke states, there are lots of other ways to be creative. Maybe just take a walk and don't even bring the camera along, just enjoy the nature (or cityscape) for what it is - keep it simple! Mess around with other things you like to do, and things that particularly don't end with you seeking some kind of validation from meaningless "likes" on social media. I would bet that your natural enjoyment of photography will circle back around when you're ready - it does sound like you burned out a little.

We all hit dry spells, and the best thing to do isn't fret, just let that part of your brain rest and turn to your other creative outlets. :)
 
Don't worry, it's just temporary. I find drinking and listening to music helps me relax and re-charge.
It's easy to get burned out on something when you feel like you have to do it rather than just want to do it for fun.
 
Don't worry, it's just temporary. I find drinking and listening to music helps me relax and re-charge.
Another of my creative outlets. We have a fig tree that produces way more than we can use. Started making Fig Wine last year, surprisingly good.
 
Like many hobbies, it will have its ups and downs.

Doing the same thing for a long period of time, can be LIKE WORK.
So, sometimes you just need a mental break, and go do something else.

Sometimes you need your brain recharged.
I did that by visiting an art museum. Actually it was a photo class requirement.
But, seeing some of the art, gave me NEW ideas to try. Actually VERY OLD ideas, but ideas that I had not tried. So for ME, they were new ideas. I have yet to work on it, but the ideas are waiting for me.

I can do only two hobbies at once, and sometimes only one. The other hobbies go into hibernation, until I feel like working on them again.
It is a matter of priority.
 
AC12 comment "sometimes you need a brain recharge", is on point. I find that if I get "to involved" in a project/task, I'll get tunnel vision. Once that happens my mind closes off from the opportunities around me. I can switch over to another interest for a bit, and it isn't long before my mind will open up.
 
Traps I think most have fallen into. I dumped social media about 3 years ago and don’t miss it at all. My slump lasted about 10 years. I took snapshots of course but didn’t touch my cameras. A couple years ago I decided to break them out and start again. (Don’t go 10 years it’s expensive to get them fixed so they are working properly after sitting for so long). Of course I am WAY behind on tech and I just don’t care. My top of the line digital is a Canon EOS 50D. Mostly I shoot film for many of the reasons already stated. Super simple and still take great photos. I feel sometimes the “work flow” just bogs me down and I get obsessed with trying to make the picture “perfect” instead of taking the time to make a good photo in the first place and not need to deal with post processing as much. Anyway good luck to you. Go out and take pictures just for you of the things you like. I understand if you make your living with photography you have to make photos the client likes but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some for you as well. And as stated before DON’T delete your photos you will regret that down the road.
 
Thanks everyone, it really means a lot to know that I'm not alone and you're all so understanding.

It really frustrates me that I feel like I need the validation, the likes, the metrics -whatever- to give me purpose to take pictures. Everytime I go take pictures, in my mind I'm thinking if anyone will like it or not. Then I go share it online and very few or nobody cares, I feel like...what's the point and I start spiraling and thinking about putting everything up for sale.

I hate it and I don't know what to do.

Atleast when I had Instagram, I had an outlet of all kind types of content to make and place and a community there but I always got hooked on the numbers. Something is happening to Flickr for me, honestly though, I'm tired of the platform and the issues. Thinking about just deleting my account.
 
Why don't you try gifting your best shots. Blow them up, frame them and give them as presents to family and friends when you visit. They’re appreciate them. When you visit subsequently, they might even be mounted on their walls or in a frame on their coffee table, so you’ll get future thanks as well.



Another option is to make a photo book at Blurb. Use 30-40 of your pictures. Not very expensive and you can gift a few books to family and friends as well. Make your pictures have meaning and I think you’ll get more joy from them especially the ones you already have taken.
 

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