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Jeffrey Byrnes Photographer Fashion + Portraits + Travel

Professional Photography: The Creative Process

One of my favorite photographers, Melissa Rodwell, openly discusses details of her life, which impacts her work; both where she resides and where she works. Over the years I have read various things about how her work has been affected by the events in her personal life. Until now, various aspects of my personal life have intersected with my professional practices, allowing me to produce work based on those crossroads. There has never been a time or a crises that interrupted or prevented me from working until this past week.

Being a professional photographer differs drastically from the amateurs that are out there slinging a camera around, filling up memory cards, posting photos, and claiming they are something special. It is a creative position that has a multiplicity of components that require a time, energy, effort, and above all creativity. Being a creative person means that I am always working, always thinking, always ready to produce work. There are times when the process can be daunting, but the end result is usually worth it. 

Over the last week, starting with last Monday night, I have been in the middle of a medical emergency with my fiance. Life was put on hold for a few days as I spent as much time as I could taking care of her, bringing her to the doctors and then the hospital twice, until she was admitted. Since then it has been minimal work and daily trips to her room to visit her. 

I have hit the backspace dozens of times as I am having a hard time expelling exactly how I feel. There has been a lot of emotions, but not enough ways to express them. The hardest part is watching her go from feeling better, seeing that incredible smile to seeing her fade to a painful place that I am locked out of. I feel like I have gone through the 5 stages of grief 10 fold. At times I am numb, the laughter is a mask, the smile is as fake, and my words suppress the sadness. 

Creativity requires a certain amount of strength. Some people find inspiration in the time of crisis, while others are derailed from their processes. I fell into the latter of the two over the past week. Yesterday and today I had two shoots with a client. I was able to turn my the pain off and reduce the stress by focusing on the tasks at hand. Between the shots, between the set ups, my mind wondered to my fears and concerns. Every time my phone vibrated, buzzing my back pocket, I was shocked back to reality as if I was stunned by a taser. 

How a person works through what is placed in their hands determines their character. I am doing what I need for both me and my fiance. The most important things are checking on her and being there to comfort her, checking in with the doctors and providing updates to those who need them, and working how I can, when I can. I have always heard that keeping yourself busy will keep your mind from wondering to places it shouldn't, but that isn't always possible. The only things that I like to do are work and read. I am too exhausted to read, but working is a healthy distraction at times. When it comes to some of my work I rely on a specific set of skills to accomplish the needs of the shoot and things flow quickly and smoothly. Other times I need to think so far outside of the box and create processes and setups that are complex rule based. Creativity can be hindered when a crisis presents itself.

It has been a very long time since I have produced a personal post that discusses personal details. In fact, I can not remember the last time I did so. Most of my posts are about recent work or something a bit more specific. Sooner than later I will have positive news and share some of the awesome work that I have recently done, as well as some of the upcoming projects.