Discouragement and Working Through It

I had a tiring weekend – hosting a sleepover for a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds is really draining. I didn't get out for my normal weekend shoot (and there were great conditions last Saturday). It weighed on my mind some, a subconscious sense that I "failed" as a photographer for the week. The seeds of discouragement were planted. 

I tried to regroup. On Sunday afternoon, I checked the tide and weather reports. High tide coincides with sunrise on Monday morning, completely clear skies. I can squeeze in a shoot before the week gets into gear, right? The alarm screeches at a quarter to 5am, I drag myself out of bed, and make a quick drive to the ocean.

I had a particular purpose for the shoot. I need a few more images to finish off a book I'm writing. When I got on scene I couldn't have been more disappointed. Thick yet somehow uninteresting fog covered most of the land. The tide was very high, but an utter lack of surf. An undramatic breaker here and there at best. No surfers either – they knew as much as I did it wasn't a day for waves. I moved up and down the shore some, drove to a second location, saw more of the same. I left without taking the camera out of the bag.

It was the epitome of discouragement. And it's super-fuel for those seeds of discouragement planted a few days ago. More, bad thoughts creep in. All the obstacles in my photography seem a little larger, a little more insurmountable. All the mundane aspects to being a photographer – backups, cataloging, and so on – feel like they suck even more time.

So what to do? Keep moving. Accomplish something. Make forward progress on one of the ump-teen projects in the kiln. Write another paragraph for the book. Write a blog post. Cull through all those presets I've saved in the last month's processing. Start editing the next video. Achieve something tangible to get over the hump, to climb out of The Valley Of Discouragement.

It's OK to feel discouraged. I think it's only natural. Maybe even healthy. Discouragement can be good for your craft. If you're unhappy with your work, it'll drive you to try again, try something new, learn a new technique. Just don't wallow in it. Turn discouragement into motivation.

What about you? How do you overcome discouragement? Got a discouraging story to share?

Scott DavenportComment