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Ease & Grace

January 23, 2013

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(In honor of the freezing temps in New York today, some photos from last weekend in foggy & snowy Vermont)
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Some disjointed thoughts about working for myself that I want to write down:

Sometimes I spend so many hours stuck in my own head and working alone that I get all turned around. I don’t know if any of the photos I’m looking at are any good, or if they say what I want them to say, or if the colors and tones look right. Or I feel apathetic about my latest roll of film. Or a group of photos gets me really excited and I can’t wait to post them here, only to find that enthusiasm strangely dissipate as I look through them a few days later. I have always said that I only post here when I’m really into it, sharing photos that get me excited in some way. Why does my enthusiasm disappear unexpectedly sometimes?

It’s a constant struggle, I know. Creativity ebbs and flows and working independently can make you crazy sometimes. Thoughts that go through my head: how can I stay motivated and what do I want to shoot? How would I like to shoot it? Maybe I should just get out and shoot more. But when will I have some time? My to-do list is growing. I need to budget my time more effectively. I wish I had more time to take photos, to give myself small assignments, to finally start taking more portraits, or explore that project idea scribbled in my notebook. I should just do it. I should, I should.

People are right when they tell you that being a photographer is often about sitting at a desk editing photos, preparing invoices, worrying about how you’ll pay the rent, asking people 3, 4, 5 times to pay those invoices, struggling to make things work, giving yourself pep talks.

But then there are moments when it all clicks into place and you’re moving through the days with ease and grace. I’m hoping to find a bit more of that ease & grace soon. I suspect that it’ll be about finding balance. Working hard to balance the admin side with the creative side. And also: maybe I should stop thinking about it so much. More doing, less thinking. Maybe that’s the solution.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Farner permalink
    January 23, 2013 2:44 pm

    Brian, I know this won’t pay the rent, but for what it’s worth, there isn’t a single image in today’s post that I wouldn’t be proud to have taken. Work this good _will_ succeed.

  2. January 23, 2013 2:46 pm

    I too, hope you find more of the ease & grace. These are pretty special photographs today. I’m so glad you shared them.

  3. January 23, 2013 3:13 pm

    Yes to everything you’ve written here. Sometimes I consider that being an entrepreneur is different than punching a clock at a job because you only get paid if you deliver, and then you’ve got to spend time on the whole invoicing thing. I often feel the way you do now, and the best medicine is a day or even an hour of freedom- doing something to feed my spirit. I know it’s tough when everything feels like it’s piling up on you, though.

  4. January 23, 2013 3:15 pm

    no, don’t think you’re thinking too much. what you’re doing is reflecting on your process, on your development and that is great. moving without reflection won’t give more ease and grace. you are an artist, welcome the tormented life, it will make you evolve! time management is a curse for everybody :(
    btw: i too loved every single image in this post.

  5. January 23, 2013 3:39 pm

    More doing, less, but enough, thinking : and it’s great to be really busy! And of course Absolutely beautiful photos!

  6. January 23, 2013 3:42 pm

    I know this. Being at home is hard – being creative can be even harder I think. We are never content – always trying to do better, or, spark something that is within to drive us further. That’s in some way why I went back to work part-time outside of the house. Working at something else I am good at. I found that when my last child went to school, I was spinning around in circles and while I am not always a structured person, I needed some consistent structure in my life. Maybe you need something outside of photography to balance you. :)

  7. January 23, 2013 4:12 pm

    I absolutely agree with you. I love my images in the moment and hate them in the morning. You should know, though, that your work is without a doubt my absolute favorite. Your quality of life book sits on my studio coffee table and I go back to it every time I need a moment of inspiration or clarity. If, in the course of my career, I can make even one image that treats light the way that your photos do, I will consider myself a success.

  8. January 23, 2013 4:20 pm

    Get an assistant. Beautiful images as always.

    • January 23, 2013 4:34 pm

      ah, if only it were that simple, Aaron. (but if you know of an assistant who will work for free, pass them on….)

      Thanks for the nice words, all. I posted this mainly to clear my head, not for sympathy or compliments, but thanks for writing with encouragement. (Someone recently said that I appeared to be a cool-headed freelancer who avoids the typical stress, and I laughed long and hard about that. I wish!)

      • February 10, 2013 5:18 pm

        hahaha, that was ME that said that! i just keep learning the lesson over and over that it is so easy to look at someone’s website/blog/twitter/instagram (and therefore, their life) and think, “that brian ferry just leads a charmed life getting to take beautiful photos and work with wonderful people, blah blah blah” and compare it to my day-to-day where i am lucky if i have money and time to pack a pb+j before heading to the studio for twelve hours where i may or may not come away with one successful image, may or may not end up in tears. but the thing is NO ONE’S LIFE IS THAT EASY! we all doubt, we all go back and forth, we all have to deal with people who owe us money.
        and, as far as an assistant goes, there are likely some students or recent grads who are interested in (and possibly required to) work with an artist to see what it’s like and get experience in the field. you can call them interns and not pay them in money, just in photos and glowing recommendation letters.

  9. January 23, 2013 5:06 pm

    I think self-reflection is part of the creativity process. Your sentiment is shared by a lot of us.
    Love your work by the way, so much life and thoughtfulness.

  10. Becky permalink
    January 23, 2013 5:10 pm

    I look at your photos every day, and I enjoy your blog so much. Please know that has not been a single day that I was disappointed in your work. I think that you are very, very talented. You brighted my day EVERY day, and I just want to say thank you.

  11. January 23, 2013 6:26 pm

    There is ease and grace in these shots, Ferry.

  12. January 23, 2013 10:05 pm

    i most certainly agree with charlotte. my job is not easy and it has no creativity to it whatsoever. but when i think about how you manage, or how david writes and writes and works and works because eventually it will all click and pay off, my job seems like a walk in the park. you gentlemen are fantastic. xoxo

  13. January 23, 2013 11:32 pm

    Your openness and honesty are always extremely refreshing, Brian, and words are so poetic. I went through everything you are describing, and have to say it didn’t get easier as the time went. I found that the most important thing was to remember very clearly what made you choose this life, and make sure those parts of the ‘job’ that make it worth your effort are present. I am sure you will continue creating amazing work and find inspiration.

  14. Gabriel permalink
    January 24, 2013 5:38 am

    Gosh; beautiful photos.

  15. marthasnail permalink
    January 24, 2013 7:20 am

    love this set of photos. good memories.

    i know it must be hard to find your footing in this new career. so many different aspects to balance. i agree with olga–focus on what you love about photography and let the rest fall into place as it may. more doing and less thinking sounds like a good plan as well. i’m not sure my words are helping but know i’m here if you need to talk.

  16. January 24, 2013 9:22 am

    Loved them all !

  17. January 24, 2013 9:39 am

    That photograph of the tree all alone in all that snow took my breath. Know that even when you’ve lost your giddiness and you’re struggling to pay the rent, you are making someone else’s world beautiful. Thank you for that.

  18. January 24, 2013 12:02 pm

    I absolutely love these. It’s so cold in MA here. Damn this cold snap.

  19. Sara permalink
    January 24, 2013 12:08 pm

    I was drawn to the young birch trees in the bare forest, and yes’m (Joy) it is dang cold here in MA..and Brian, thanks for sharing. I don’t know how you read my mind, but what you said is the truth. See it, feel it, and ever onward.

  20. January 24, 2013 1:31 pm

    You have expressed exactly what I have been feeling myself, Brian. The ebb and flow of creativity are so hard (during the ebb particularly) and the less romantic sides of romantic careers are very draining at times. I think it is difficult always trying to put out, put out. Whenever I start getting that crazy backwards feeling in my head, I think it must be time to take in a little. Breathe. Go for a walk. Let go. Not always easy, especially when putting out is a requisite for putting food on the table. But there is the yin and yang of all things – creativity included. Without the yin, we burn too brightly and exhaust the flame. Lovely photos by the way, you’ve made me nostalgic.

  21. Ana permalink
    January 24, 2013 4:06 pm

    I love these winter images…absolutely beautiful. For me, things really come to life in the winter. Let us know if you ever decide to sell any of these prints.

  22. January 24, 2013 4:34 pm

    One of the signs above my writing desk is “grace.” I don’t always live up to it so I have to remind myself! I have often told people that the downside of working at home – alone usually – is I live too much inside my head. Sometimes I go out to take photos (I am so not visual!) The wonderful thing about what you just expressed – is that is how it should be. That is the process and the package. And the photos winningly prove the theory.

  23. January 24, 2013 6:03 pm

    The ebb and flow of your struggling thoughts is part and parcel of the wonderful work you so consistently create. Which is easy enough for me to say when it is you wrestling with the devilish details – I can’t believe you have to work so hard to get those invoices paid!

  24. January 24, 2013 8:45 pm

    Hi Brian! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. It honestly and truthfully tells me that being motivated isn’t always taken for granted. Keeping oneself as a photographer, or broadly an artist, can be discipline too. I write and I sometimes wait for a great idea, inspiration to come upon me and it doesn’t always. Trying not to complacent with what one already has done would be more pursued if we’re to look for more motivations. These and those thoughts will produce a greater work with deep insight.

  25. January 26, 2013 2:21 am

    I do love your photos. You like and respect other’s.
    But I really like yours.

    Your photography and Your world.

  26. Daniel permalink
    February 10, 2013 8:19 am

    I often feel that way with my writing; sometimes I think it’s rhythmic, nuanced and complex, then three days later it rings one dimensional, one note. but i swear my response has much to do with my particular chemical makeup on whatever particular day I’m viewing the work. it’s very hard to gauge with shifting synapses and all; humans are fickle. just recognize that what you create is a reflection of yourself at that moment in time: it may be lush and full, or just plain bone dry. but neither is necessarily better over the other, and, personally, knowing that allows me insight to where I’ve been, and maybe hints where it is I want to go…

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