• Tom Mills

Photographer's block

I have a confession, I actually love to write. I say confession because writing is not an activity that engineers often profess to enjoy. In fact, there was a time I wrote every day, then writer's block settled in and writing became very sporadic. I also love to read; fiction and non-fiction. The last book I read was Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know and Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Just like writing, I used to read every day until apathy set in and for the last 4 or so months, I've stopped reading real books. I don't count news articles as reading, especially since the news has devolved into a state of reality TV, or WWE type junk in this current political climate. Everything is vitriolic and divisive, no substance, very little to inform and educate with any attempts to do so being summarily trashed as "fake news".


Like reading and writing, photography has also been a lifelong passion. I was 11 years old when I started seriously using my dad's Nikkormat FTN, shooting with different ISO films and the three lenses my dad had (50mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2.8, and a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm zoom) to take pictures of just about anything I could; all color negative or color slide film. I didn't really catch the monochrome bug until much later in life. Taking pictures and most recently, developing film is a great outlet for me but like reading and writing, I've hit a wall, "photographer's block". Suddenly, 36 exposures is too much; adding to that is the lack of things to photograph, so even 15 exposures with Mamiya is harder. The pandemic induced apathy has now carried over into photography and my beautiful analog cameras aren't being utilized as much as I'd like...

Adding to the "photographer's block" are the feeling that images I take aren't "artistic" enough, and because "everyday" drudgery isn't "artistic", it would be a waste time, effort and film to take the picture. Totally contradicts the 10 golden rules of lomography... not sure if it's because of my innate desire to maximize "value" for each roll of film, or if there's something deeper, maybe pandemic depression? I bring a camera, sometimes two with me on every walk and I just can't seem to find any inspiration to find new images, everything is the same... over and over again. Add the pressure of expiring mixed chemistry and I end up taking pictures of things like our deck furniture covered in water.

I'm hoping to get my writing, reading, and photographic mojo back soon. Maybe I start with a sentence a day, maybe I read a paragraph a day, maybe going back to black and white film will ease the pressure of expiring chemistry and getting "value" from film? After all, I have plenty of HC-110, Ilfosol-3, and Kodak TMax developer left, all with plenty of shelf life. Now to just make progress, one small step at a time.


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