Recently, I've been giving a lot of thought to how much my photography has changed over the years. I feel that it is only in the last two or three years that there has been a distillation, a fine-tuning of ideas and style into where I am now. It's as if everything came into sharp focus for me around three years ago and everything before then was a slow gradual journey, one where I felt things were changing but I didn't know where they were going.
It's only now that I feel I've reached a point where things have become easier for me. I now have better confidence in myself and trust myself more in how I am developing as an artist.
A creative life has these moments, or plateaus perhaps, of feeling that you've arrived at some level playing field where you can bask in some form of creative comfort for a while before the next (sometimes difficult, other times just natural) adaption occurs. Because growing requires change, and although I know and believe that change is good, it can also be a time of great uncertainty.
If I look back at Ansel Adam's work over his lifetime, it is clear that he, like many other artists, he had a very creative period and then things started to tail off. By the end of his life, he was perhaps more a curator of his legacy. His skills had developed so much that he was able to go back to his iconic work and produce bolder, deeper prints than when he first started out.
My 3rd book is about to be published soon, and it has given me pause for thought. Is this the final mark of a period of great growth and creativity for me? Will I look back on this book in years to come and say 'that was my most creative time?'
I am aware that I have done so much and witnessed so many wonderful things over the past eight or nine years since I went full time, that I feel it may be unlikely I can perhaps top that for a further similar duration. I am older, I feel different (i.e not the same way as I felt when I started out eight years ago), so things have changed, and indeed, are always changing.
I believe that each artist or creative person reaches a point in their own development where they are at the summit of what they can do. It's an inevitable point to reach in one's own creativity but we must continue to move forward with an open mind to see if there is still mileage in the road ahead.
Indeed, there have been many moments where I felt I could go no further, only to find that the period of contemplation was either brief or lasted for many months or years. I've had periods in my creativity where I have felt I had nowhere else to go, yet looking back I see now that I had only just started.
Contemplative moments are good for us. Thinking about where you've been and where you think you may be going are healthy thoughts to have. You just need to believe in yourself that things are going to change and understand that progress is not linear. There will be times and even long spells of inactivity, times when you feel you have nothing left to say, only to find that you are now entering a period of great productivity. Being open to whatever may come, and accepting that you are on a journey that has no fixed course is the only way to be.
Learn to live in the present and understand that everything you are doing or experiencing is transient: it will not last. That goes for periods of little or no productivity, and for times when we reach new summits in what we do. Regardless, thinking about where you are and understanding yourself at this present moment is good for a healthy creative life.
So today I'm left wondering 'where do I go from here?' And I can't wait to see what's up the road ahead.