Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to others?
There is one particular book. I was brought up in a religious family, and this book particularly is a religious take on creativity; it’s called The Art of Being. It’s by multiple authors, a lot of creatives. There’s another book called The Art of Being, which isn’t the book that I’m talking about. There’s specifically an article in this one by Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot. It’s a really short article, but he basically talks about the internal mental battle of being a creative. It’s a great book because it’s by creatives who approach this inward battle of being a creative but also need to approach life.
It sounds like it might offer some inspiration for other creatives who have hit a wall. What do you do when you have a creative block?
It’s funny because I’m actually going through a huge creative block right now. To be honest, the best way to deal with it is I just reinvent my conviction. I rediscover why I’m doing what I’m doing. Whether that’s on a spiritual level, or a creative level, or on a physical level, I always reassess what I believe. That’s the one thing.
I also get really into the thick of doing things that are very mundane. I generally don’t like taking public transport, but if I’m in a creative block, I’ll take public transport. It just takes me out of my usual routine and lets me observe the world, and people watch and that kind of thing. I’ll do mundane things like taking public transport, I’ll clean my apartment, I do things that I know won’t disappoint me. I feel that a lot of where creative block comes from is not having your foundation built, so my way of figuring out what that foundation is again is to do the things that I know are sure. And getting a little bored and enjoying the boredom so then something else can come from it.
I like working out, so I work out a lot. If I’m in a creative block, I’ll think, “Oh, I don’t want to be at home thinking about how terrible of a creative I am. I’m just going to go do a yoga class or go to a boxing class.” So between those three things, I just keep doing them until I find an idea or I find a reason to motivate myself to get back and create again.
This is probably a common thing amongst creatives, but I get bored super easily. So I find that I have to kind of trick myself into having shorter time frames where I’m like, “Yeah, I’m really bored but it’s a week.” And then you find the motivation points and you get inspired, and then you dip down again. I like to believe that I’ve kind of figured out what that routine is in my mind. I know that every two to three years, I hit a slump, always hit a very big slump around that time period. And I always do a bit of guesswork, but somehow it always figures itself out. So there’s the bigger time frame and then there’s a smaller time frame and it’s just kind of navigating.
How much shooting are you doing for yourself now and how much for clients?
At the moment, I’m actually doing very little shooting for myself, to be honest. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, just researching, reading, that’s sort of how I’m finding my creativity. I’m getting back to drawing again because I use to do a lot of drawing. Not even wanting to create stuff out of it; it’s just a different way for me to express myself. The times where I will create is actually when I get a job, or if I’m out with friends, that’s when I’ll do photo and video again.
When you have a client job, do they give you a lot of creative freedom, typically?
Definitely a lot of creative freedom. I think luckily for me, people approach me for my aesthetic. So very rarely will I pitch an idea and people are like, “Oh, this is really a bad idea.” Generally people are like, “This is cool. It fits in line with your feed, your tone’s all over it.” I’m lucky in that sense. I actually really won’t take on a job unless it’s within my own aesthetic. So that’s great.
What kind of impact are you trying to make through your work? What is it that you want people to take away from your photos?
That’s a very good one. I feel like it’s changed over the years. When I started doing photography and traveling a lot more, my initial takeaway was how do I represent a space that people haven’t seen before? So the take was how do I shoot an image that can’t be googled? That’s sort of how I used to approach it.
Now, to be honest, it’s how do I make someone pause for a few seconds, bringing back the rocket idea. It’s a moment, right? How do I give someone a moment once they’ve liked what’s in my image, whether it’s a portrait or a short little video? I’m all about trying to give people back their time. So it’s a really like deep way to approach it.
If I give someone a few seconds of appreciating an image or seeing an image, then that’s what I feel is a good motivation. There’s a lot of content out there nowadays, and I think back to the day when I was like, “How do I shoot an image you can’t google?” That was still fresh. There was a lot of discovery. You think about the Eiffel Tower now and there are millions of photos that are taken every single day, but four, five years ago, which isn’t even that long ago, there were maybe a few thousands online. I feel like that’s where my head is right now. We’ll see where it goes.