I’m Stuck Deep In a Creative Rut and Have Started Digging

Let me preface this by stating that I have no answers for you if you’re also in a similar state. I’m unable to help you when I’m unable to help myself through this. So far I’ve decided to sink money into a possible solution, insisting I solve this on my own, as I refuse to burden others with my problems. Why am I blogging about this? Mainly to prove that not everything is perfect; that what I’ve posted so far represents only 1% of my life. Everything sounds great while I endlessly shop, drive around the state to camp, hike and take photographs without anyone or thing forcing me to conform to their needs. I have income but am not actually employed, I have a business with expenses but make little money from it, I’m disabled but I can walk, I’m handicapped but not mentally deficient, my wants and needs are met but I’m depressed. This is not about comparing problems; it’s purely about my fight with clinical depression brought on by traumatic brain injuries and a history of PTSD. This is just my latest battle.

Side note: I can’t emphasize enough that what you see on social media is either fake or, at best, is evidence of someone’s best few days being put on repeat. Most people are reluctant to show their bad side or bad days. Your life shouldn’t look like a Kardashian’s Instagram feed because you’re normal. Just remember that someone else misrepresenting their life on social media is not a reflection on you. If social media is affecting your mental health, I recommend you seek professional help from a counselor, psychologist or get a referral from your physician.

Now, with that said, on to my situation…

Stuck in both a depressive state and a creative rut, with each feeding off each other to create a negative feedback loop. The former isn’t necessarily tied to the latter, although the latter is a symptom of the former. Also affecting the situation is my stress induced psoriasis negatively impacting my desire to go out and attempt to break the cycle, further deepening my depression and lengthening this creative dry spell.

My first notion was to sell everything and find a new hobby. It also doesn’t help that my penchant for landscape, nature and astrophotography are heavily impacted by my inability to drive; this reliance on others is a constant source of both anxiety and depression for me.

After throwing out that idea, I focused on trying to find another form of photography I might find enjoyment doing, even while in a depressed state. The first thing that came to mind was portraiture, which I quickly rejected due to my inability to tolerate other people. Despite that, it did lead me toward buying a portrait lens rather than one specialized for macro photography, which leads me into my second idea: macro photography. While I could’ve justified a macro or tilt-shift lens, I decided to get a portrait lens instead. Why? Because the aperture can always be made smaller but it cannot be made larger. A portrait lens is capable of serving at least 2 photographic formats.

I chose the GF 110mm ƒ/2 and bought a pair of macro extension tubes to facilitate close focusing. It’s supremely sharp when closed down to ƒ/4 and smaller, has beautiful bokeh wide open and is telephoto enough to avoid any perspective distortion. Plus, since I have the macro tubes, I can use a wider aspect lens whenever I want.

Unfortunately, indoor macro photography requires some space and some equipment. Since I have very little of the first, I’ll need more of the second to make things work. So far, I’ve chosen a backdrop stand that folds down discreetly, a pair of dark backdrops since I prefer chiaroscuro, clamps, a sheet of acrylic for reflections and differently colored papers to use under the acrylic. Fortunately none of that was too expensive, topping out around $60.

The real issue is lighting. I need to begin by choosing between strobe or constant. The former is more usable for general photography but is more expensive if I want to do it right; a couple of 200-300W units and a speedlight, or 3 of the former would be useful without being limiting. And example of a highly limiting setup would be 3 speedlights as they’d be useless for photography in general as I wouldn’t be able to use them outdoors for much. Spending even more for battery powered strobes with optional AC adapters would further add usability to the set.

The other option is to buy constant, always-on lighting. They’re easier to use as I won’t need to imagine the light, allowing me to position them exactly how I want since the light is visible. Another benefit is the possibility of using color, should I opt for RGB LED panels. Unfortunately that convenience means, although useful for video production, they’ll be useless for general photography and will force me to buy strobes anyways, later on down the line. It’s too bad because they’re relatively inexpensive compared to a 3 strobe setup plus modifiers.

The ultimate solution is to rob a bank or find a benefactor. Short of that, I’m probably going to go with a pair of Godox AD300’s and an AD200Pro, all with Profoto mount modifiers. I already own a Godox trigger anyways, so it only makes sense. The AD300 is strong enough to use outdoors, giving me the most future-proofing, while the AD200Pro is no larger than a speedlight but is the same size. I think an on-camera flash, while able to be used off-camera, is just too low powered for any of my potential use cases.

Despite being a budget brand, it’s still at least $1400 in equipment. Since I own a set of small reflectors, I can buy one piece at a time and rely on bounce flash to simulate a 2, and then 3, light setup.

But then I start to think about my 3 year old iPhone X and 2 year old Apple Watch, and how they’re both in need of upgrading due to battery depletion. The new iPhone will be announced soon and will likely have 5G, future proofing me a bit so I can hang onto it for at least as long as I have with my current iPhone. And considering how much I use my Watch, it’ll be worthwhile to upgrade that, too.

Where do I begin and when will it stop? When will I stop? We’ll see if this attempt at macro and still life photography helps get me out of this rut I seem to be burying myself in.

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