Just over one month ago I moved back to the D.C. area after living in Naples, Italy for two years. I know. Italy! Land of pizza and pasta! How could I move back? Didn’t I want to stay forever?!? Naples is a great city. It’s gritty and dirty but filled with some great people and even greater food. It’s also extremely photogenic. Naples was founded by Greeks over 2,000 years ago. The historic part of town follows the ancient Roman city plan. Under one church you can walk down Roman roads and peek inside a Roman market. Above ground there are hundreds of years of history in the buildings, streets, markets, shops, and families that call this crazy, wonderful city home.
How does any of this relate to photography? In the same way any trip you take offers the opportunity to photograph new sights, living in Naples seemed to offer endless material and inspiration. I spent many hours wandering around the city taking photos of churches, museums, markets, people — anything and everything held interest for me. Every trip within Italy, as well as around Europe, was the same. It seemed like I could never run out of things to photograph.
When it became official that my husband had found a new job back in D.C. and that within 45 days we would be leaving Italy, my first reaction was a sudden overwhelming sense of dread that whatever progress I’d made in my photography would go right out the window when I no longer had easy access to the beauty and inspiration that Italy and the rest of Europe offered. I’d already seen everything there was to see in D.C., so what would I have to look forward to? Clearly this was irrational thinking and wholly unfair to D.C. but that didn’t stop the endless circle of worry and doubt that had planted itself firmly in my brain. No amount of reassurance from my husband could stem the tide and it was really no surprise that when we finally arrived back in D.C., a nasty case of photographer’s block had taken root.
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with photographer’s block and it certainly won’t be the last, but somehow this one feels like it’ll be a little harder to beat. In the past I’ve managed to overcome the block by buying a new piece of equipment (the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens worked wonders a few years ago) or picking up my Canon AE-1 and a couple rolls of film. Downloading new photo apps on my iPhone and giving myself projects have also worked. My plan is to try a couple of these ideas and see what happens. I happened to find three rolls of black and white film at my parent’s house a couple weeks ago, so I think that’s where I’ll start. Beating the block will take some time but I’m determined to get my photographic groove back.
Have you suffered through photographer’s block? What are some of the things that helped you get past it?