Without warning

2010, Photography

There is so much I want to do. Maybe write about what drives me to photography, talk about compositions, doing another tutorial, and what the heck, even ramble about gear.

I want to have new photographs, but I don’t want to take photographs. I always have a camera with me, “the Best Camera Is The One That’s with You”, but I don’t care.

I suck, I hate it. Full of ideas and no idea how to execute them. Of course I do know how to do it from a technical point, but my mind is not up there.

You know, every ones in a while you realize there is a lack of inspiration. And worst of all, for me it always comes without warning. Or at least, I don’t recognize the symptoms at that moment.

I don’t want to spent anytime behind the computer. I see always the same things and I don’t notice it. It is ordinary and it remains ordinary. No shadows, no light. Photoshop is killing me. I hate RAW, but I do hate jpeg too. When I leave home, it is dark. When I go home, it is dark.

I visit forums, check flickr, visit blogs. And all I see, feels to me like a déjà vu. It is not bad, in fact it is often great work. But I feel no spark within me.

So, I think it is best to take some rest. Not be worried. Visit or mail friends. And…..

Some day it will change and it will often be without warning too. At some point I notice that there is wonderful light and that it draws amazing shadows. I mean I love shadows, I just don’t like total darkness.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

42 thoughts on “Without warning

  1. Wouter, bin there dun that and got the T shirt as we would say, it happens to all of us at one time or another so don’t worry, I have re enthused my eye with the acqusition of the GR iii. I have only managed to get out with it today, it’s been on my desk for three, waiting for an opportunity to get out and do…

    Having viewed the files and worked through some I am over the moon with my purchase, it is a big improvement over my now sold GX100, I was sad to see it go but hey how many cameras can you use? I have on order the 21mm attachment once that arrives I will be in heaven…

    My wife says I’ve got a new fix, she maybe right although I did mention I’d owned the GX100 for 2.5 yrs so she could hardly call me fickle!

    I have always found the purchase of some new lens,kit,camera,etc. tends to reivigorate the photographic eye, so perhaps thats what you might need…

    I did email some of the last pics from the GX100 to you did you get them?

    Take care

    1. It happens me probably once or twice a year, but not like now. Oh well, things will be better. And no new camera will push me forward. Time is an absolute problem. That is also why I unfortunately haven’t been able to answer you. But I should say that I really love the photograph of the trees.

      Have great fun with the GRDIII for at least 2.5 years!

  2. Late Jan / early Feb… It’s that time of year, man. Push through. Hang in there. As you say, soon the spark will light.

  3. I know exactly what you mean. As I try to get back into the spirit of photographing, I am investing time by simplifying my personal activities so I can concentrate on photography.

    1. Trust me Eric, I drink coffee all day. I see the same things as usual, but it means nothing now to me. Giving my photography some rest is probably better. It always worked and at some point I want to make photographs again.

  4. One cannot force inspiration or drive. It is either there or it is not.

    Of course, I think many of us feel we are forced in a way to do something with photography because we have invested in the equipment, the software, the blogging and Flickr’ing, and in obtaining the skill set to take great pics (or in my case okay pics).

    Sometimes we just need a vacation. Take all the time you want or need Wouter. We’ll always be here when you return.

  5. But, your pictures taken after dark are damned good! Reminds me of the introduction to Michael Kenna’s book in Japan, in which he writes that he’d go every morning at sunrise to Lake Biwa to find, when the weathe was sunny, scores of Japanese photographers already set up with tripods. But when the weather was good, heavily overcast, or when it was raining, he’d get there and be all alone — and that’s when he got the pictures that he liked.

    I lived in Stockholm for five years when I was a child — when I started school I remember leaving at 8:30am, when it was night, and going home at 3:00pm, when it was night again. These long hours of darkness depressed my parents, who had not grown up with it, but had no such effect on me. So, I guess at this time of year you have to look for the child in yourself, which is a good idea, it seems to me, when searching for inspiration.

    The other thing to do is go look at paintings at museums or art galleries — and if you can easily get to Amsterdam there is always the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum — because looking at paintings can be provide great inspiration for photography.

    Finally, look at photographers’ work, not for imitation nor necessarily for inspiration, but as a “point of departure”, meaning you start by shooting like that photographer but see what you can appropriate from his or her approach for your own work. As you know, I often look at Moriyama Daido’s work, but from time to time I go back to Ralph Gibson, to see whether or how I can simply a frame or make something poetic. His revised website — look at the archives — is very good.


    1. I know what can inspire me, Mitch. But right now I find no excitement. It will change as days become longer. I see the same pool, the same pavement, the same road signs, but the light is different.

      But I should also say honestly that I love the work of Michael Kenna, but I am just too tired to get out there. His love for isolating if inspirational though.

  6. Mr. Brandsma; I come to your site frequently for the inspiration that I need. So often your pictures are the ones that I see in my minds eye but I don’t have the time, and skill to take. Yet you are one of the people that gives me hope that some day I will. In the mean time I fuss over my equipment too much and am trying to cure myself of that. Hang in there I am sure that winter will change soon where you live. I must agree with Mr. Alland your pictures after dark are very different than the norm (without trying too hard) and are wonderful.


    1. Hi Brian, Please call me Wouter. I currently just try to avoid that my photography becomes compulsory. And taking a small break is good I think, but I took some photographs today despite the very dull weather.

  7. Been there for over a year now…Eyes´s annoyed with the light, finger annoyed with the shutter release. Oh well…I´ll allways have your blog, hopefully 😉


  8. I like Mitch’s ideas of visiting museums and get some inspirazion from the classics. A simple change of place also may give some inspiration. But apart from that, there is quite a lot of quality in your after-dark photos in my opinion… although I know this won’t be enough, if YOU are not happy with them.

    1. Honestly Fabian, while the darkness and dullness certainly have some effects, it is mostly my fear for compulsory. I don’t need photographs to feel good, I want photographs to feel good.

  9. hang in there… it will get brighter…finally got my nikon and OM adapters for the canon this morning… but its really a dull flat light day here.

    Meanwhile… out of the blue, I have been approached by Olympus Europe to submit some EP1 pics. Sometimes inspiration/enthusiasm/direction comes from the strangest sources!!

    take care

      1. yes with focus confirmation… in the brief tests so far seems to work… not had a real chance to confirm accuracy… but with a half press on the shutter you do get lights on in the viewfinder.

        The Nikon adapter is bit tricky to take on and off but the OM one is fine

        got them from here




  10. Greetings Wouter,

    I had to smile when I read your latest post. I could have written it myself. I hate winter, grey monotonous flat light.

    I’ve been really frustrated shooting digital, fed up processing. Instead I have been shooting much more film and racking my brains for new ways of shooting the same old. I’m bored with my local area, and that’s sad because the Wye Valley is an area of outstanding natural beauty. I have decided to travel out of those boring comfort zones. Being in a new area can be a kick start.

    I did buy a new digital camera though. A little larger than a match box, 5mp, no autofocus, its fixed focus. Mobile phone sort of lens. The result are horrid, soft, no resolution to speak off, it vignettes. Like a digital Holga. It’s quite fun because the pix are truly awful. I’ll send you a few. Was it worth the €30?

    Recently I have been reading/viewing the complete volumes of ‘Camera Work’ by Alfred Stieglitz. Wonderful tonality, light and texture. Sometimes looking back at truly great photographers is better than looking forward at over processed digital sterility.

    What you describe above is what I call the calm before the storm, the sharp intake of breath before the plunge. The fire will return.

    All the Very Best.

    1. I don’t hate the winter. I need it too, the filigree, the simplicity, it is like the bare essence. It is just that I am feared about compulsiveness. Then it all becomes just quantity instead of quality. And I am not only talking about quality photographs, but also about joy, fun, excitement. I don’t need it, I want it.

      So, I take it easy, settle down, watch tv, read a book, take a walk, ignore my camera. At some point I have a great opportunity and I don’t have the camera with me, then I know I am getting there.

      Look forward to some of your €30 pix. Had fun for instance using a Nokia N95 last year.


      1. I’m glad you don’t, but I do really hate winter, hate it, hate it, hate it and hate it some more. I want to hibernate – or move to New Zealand.

        Roll on long days, sweet air and even longer shadows.

  11. have i got a cure for you… road trip!

    not that it worked for me (too many other concerns)… but it does sometimes help to get outside of yourself, to see everything and anything that is fresh and new.

    will it help you make great photos? maybe. maybe not. but it might help you find the excitement again — and that is all that is necessary as you take great photos as naturally as you breathe.

    at this time, even the ducks are keeping to their own little boat, loathe to jump into the snow crusted canals. what you’re going through is normal and, as Chris says, the fire will return.

    if all goes well, you should play hooky for a day next month. use my camera and lenses and we can stalk a new city together… even in darkness, there is loveliness in the lights there where they are found. it is the seeking you need, not inspiration or talent. you need to be able to look again.

  12. A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall.
    Onlookers feared for his life.
    Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls.
    People asked him how he managed to survive.
    “I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me.
    Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it.
    Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl.
    This is how I survived.”

  13. Thanks for posting that link to the Kenna interview video, Wouter. As it happens, I’m in Tokyo on business, but not finding inspiration for photography. Just watching that was a joy. Unfortunately I am not going out of Tokyo, but it inspired me to push a little harder to find my muse. It’s the weekend!

    1. Hokkaidō is not really nearby, but the region and subjects are very inspiring. Take some time to walk the busy streets of downtown Tokyo at night. Take care this weekend.

  14. Hi Wouter,

    Maybe a good time to focus on that photobook? You might also want to come
    down to New Zealand plenty of sun at this time of year 🙂

    1. I will try to order a test book to see how the photographs look printed. And New Zeeland? Love to, but financially speaking my best option is the province of Zeeland 😉

  15. You could walk around with that kind of Petzl headlamp… it would make things look a bit brighter.

    No kidding, just hang in there, do not force it, spring will come. It is natural to have different seasons ans feelings and light.

  16. Same story for me. Trying to shoot something with my phone [because I don’t feel like using the “real” stuff at the moment], but even then I’m getting annoyed as I don’t “see” great shots or arrive at home without one single keeper, after an one hour walk in the cold.

    Taking some rest and/or focussing on other things is never a bad idea.

  17. Sounds like a case of the winter blues, Wouter. January can be something of a depressing month, especially after the Christmas festivities.

    When I lived in Britain, my spirits would sink at this time of the year but usually by the end of the month, when the days lengthened a little, I would find my optimism and enthusiasm returning.

    In some ways your post is a little ironic from my point of view because the photographs and wise words in your previous post inspired me to get out of the house each day and take photographs. Your pragmatic attitude to photographic equipment has also made me feel less concerned about cameras and lenses that I read about but cannot afford.

    Sometimes we all have the tendency to be too hard on ourselves. Sometimes the situation is never as bad as we think it is.

    May your muse return soon.

    1. `In some ways your post is a little ironic from my point of view because the photographs and wise words in your previous post inspired me to get out of the house each day and take photographs. Your pragmatic attitude to photographic equipment has also made me feel less concerned about cameras and lenses that I read about but cannot afford.`

      I know it can sound a little ironic. Photography is also satisfaction. The joy of taking photographs, the excitement. It will come back, but I find it encouraging that I helped you. And that helps me too.

  18. I am as an architect, I get use to of this kind of dull moment and non creative time.
    It comes and goes but the aftermath is always be more joy of working.
    I visit your site almost everyday, it is always inspiring and it seem to me that your creativeness would never cease to flow. Anyway we are only human.

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