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From Burnout To Creative Bloom

I have spent majority of my photography journey running after “candid” shots and appreciating the beauty of things. Now that is a great starting point but I learned the hard way that by focusing only on capturing, learning, serving and growing we might not see the things that truly matter.

Between constant capturing, collecting and catching, there is the silenced longing for being, receiving and letting things go. Between hard work and growth there is special place for calm. If the quiet is forgotten, hustle is pointless and improvement doesn’t happen. Chasing things burned me out.

I’ve heard numerous people claim that people get burned out by not doing enough of things that make them happy. That in itself is a trap and rather misleading statement. Constant search of happiness may lead us on the path of infinite achievements, elusive goals and broken hearts. I loved photography, and still do, yet it had a big role in leading me to exhaustion. Jumping from goal to goal and working hard in becoming better didn’t leave room for messy and playful things that are part of being human.

The truth is that majority of the final works that may seem candid are far from it. This applies to most of the photography styles, genres and practices. In travel photography, pictures are heavily edited, color corrected and photoshopped. In portrait photography, poses are practised, clothes are matched and skin is retouched. In lifestyle photography, location is prepped, sets curated and styling carefully planned. The word “documentary” is used generously making it seem that the picture perfect moments you see have not been retouched, edited or curated in any way. I fell into the trap of perfection. The irony of it is; that’s what photographers are trained to do.

I got heavily invested in the roles I chose to play. Being a mom, partner, friend, co-worker, creative and lover of many things eventually stole all of me. I said ‘Cheese’ with a big smile despite the fact that I wanted to cry. I was marketing products despite the fact that I would never use them myself. I agreed on playing by the rules despite the fact that following them made it impossible to recover. And to make it harder, the planted ideals and controlled emotions came both from external and internal sources. Internally, from false expectations of the work and lifestyle I was invested in and externally from the sources like culture, media and materialistic society.

Being face to face with a hospital door changed me. There was nobody but me to be found. And for that I am forever grateful. Therefore, I made a promise to myself to look for ways to bring more humility, freedom and purpose into my life, instead of continuing to participate in toxic cultures invested primarily in performance, achievements and productivity. And that is the hard part. The society does not change despite you changing. Downgrading won’t be celebrated the way success, prestige and wealth are. However, that is when you learn to celebrate yourself!

That’s why I stopped taking pictures. Today I create them instead.