PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY BERT STEPHANI
Over the last few months I’ve been very frustrated by my own work, I’ve been having doubts of where I want/should take my career and I bought the biggest lens that exists for my camera while I don’t even like shooting long lenses. All the signs point to a photographic midlife crisis.
Sometimes I feel I’m getting close to grasp what it is that I want to do. But it stays just out of reach. Other times I’m completely sure that I found my new path. And then the next day I run into something completely opposite that I like just as well. I feel the need to make choices, be bold, but that’s a recipe for disaster if those choices are not based on some solid foundations. I question everything I do: shooting style, subjects, post processing, lens choices. I even doubt many things that have been the result of years of working hard to get it right. On the other hand, it’s not that I want to stop what I’ve been doing completely and jump into something very different. I know that there are many elements of my work that I want to keep, I just don’t know which ones.
All this has led to chaos in my mind, relentless searching for information, writing down new business plans and many sleepless nights. Sometimes, I’m really considering to forget about it all and just keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing for the last years. But honestly that’s an option that doesn’t exist for a creative mind. I will just have to push through this somehow.
Lately I’ve come to see all this in a completely different way. When talking to my KAGE buddies and other creative friends, I found out that I’m not alone in experiencing this. We all go through these phases from time to time. I’ve come to accept it as a necessity for growing as an artist and as a person. I’ve even started to see it as a positive kind of chaos. I can’t fight it, nor can I force a conclusion. It just has to come through experimentation and reflection.
For now, for most of my assigned work, I’ll stick to my old ways. On the other side of the spectrum is my personal work, which is all over the map as you can probably tell from the gallery in this article. I’m just shooting as much as I can, trying as much different things that I find even remotely interesting. Right now, the work is very eclectic and I know that I’m going to hate some of it very soon. But slowly there are also patterns that are becoming clear. For the uninformed user it may still look confusing but when I look at my recent personal work, there are keywords that come to mind like: nature, exploration, innovation, …
I’m still very much at the start of this whole process but since I’ve started to accept and even embrace the chaos, I’m actually looking forward to how it will continue. I intend to bring you along for the ride and turn this article into a monthly series.
It would be interesting to see what YOU see or miss in the images in this gallery, so don’t hold back in the comments.