The Vital Link Between Emotions and Creativity in Photography

I love photography. I love the idea of capturing a moment in time, an event, an abstract scene or just a snippet of life that would otherwise go unrecorded, only to be forgotten over time. I have no formal training, no gallery exhibitions, no commissions and not even a particularly large following on Flickr or any other social media.

However, this does not deter me. Like the vast majority of other amateur photographers, my efforts will never be recognised, but that does not stop me from trying to improve my work, to add meaning to my pictures and to get that long awaited recognition.

That was the case until six weeks ago when one of life’s indelible moments took away all desire, drive and enthusiasm that I have for my passionate hobby. I lost my mother to liver failure. An event like this will obviously have long term repercussions on many aspects of a person’s life but I was not expecting it to have such a profound effect on my photography. I haven’t taken a picture since.

I returned to my day job within a few days of the event. Any mourning and grief that I felt, although still very much with me, had subsided within a couple of weeks and after a very strong and healthy relationship with my mother, I felt that I had come to terms with the loss and managed well since the event. The surprise has been the effect on my creativity and passion; it is now absent.

This has led me to one conclusion: our creativity is directly affected by our mood and emotions. This realisation is all the more important for photographers making a living from their work and cannot afford this emotional “writer’s block.” Many articles are written about “the best equipment” or “essential skills and knowledge” that amateur photographers “must have.” Far less is written and equally understood about a healthy mind and attitude towards the craft.

Creativity needs to be nurtured. Likewise the mind needs to be fed, maintained and nourished like an athlete looking after his or her body. Psychologists understand that emotions do not necessarily affect our thoughts; it is our thoughts that drive our emotions. On that note, I say to the “vast majority” of amateur photographers: believe in yourself and believe in your work. Do not be disheartened by negative feedback; merely use it to motivate yourself and expand your creativity.

As for myself, I will take pictures again and I will overcome my ‘photographers block’ and even though my world feels a little bit smaller, my passion will come back larger than ever.

About the author: Ross Jukes is a 31 year old amateur photographer from Birmingham, England. Ross mainly shoots landscapes and urban photography in his native Birmingham though he plans to branch out into architectural & automotive photography in the future. Visit his Flickr page here.

Image credits: Photographs by Ross Jukes

  • Johnjoe Nugent

    Although I haven’t been through what you have experienced, I wish you all the best. Also I agree that we need emotions in our photography even if we can’t always successfully capture that emotion.

  • monteraz

    The link to his website does not work

  • Ross Jukes

    Thanks for your comments :)

  • Dan Stone

    i live round the corner from these pics…. good seeing a local! maybe the change will take you in a new direction you hadn’t seen before. Really like your work

  • 9inchnail

    Sorry for your loss. Your creativity won’t suffer, though. You’re just depressed which is the most natural reaction to what happened to you. Many artists even use their pain for their creative output. Just look at musicians. They’re depressed, drink, do drugs and make great music. Once they get their lives back on track, their music becomes drivel you’ve heard a million times before. Sad but true, something has to be destructed so that something new can be created. If we were all just happy, nothing would get done. We would just lay back, chill out and enjoy life. Unfortunately that’s not how it works.

  • Ross Jukes

    Thanks Dan, where are you from? I do quite enjoy taking pictures around Birmingham, it is quite varied :)

  • Dan Stone

    bradfordstreet/cheapside way, i have a studio just down from there as well opposite way to custard factory. I’ll drop you a message on facebook :)

  • Jeff Haynes

    Hi Ross, been through the same emotional journey as you recently, losing my Dad to lung disease back in March. I went through the same creative dip but it gets better, honest. You will find your own ground again. Loving your photos, I too am an amateur and also from the UK (Brighton) so theres another connection!

  • Ross Jukes

    Thank you for that, some really great points there…

  • Ross Jukes

    Hi Jeff, I’m sorry to hear about your own situation. I lost my dad when I was 11 which I think has helped me understand that you do lose people and that things do get easier over time, still very difficult at the moment though. Thanks for your comments :)

  • Mrs. Wabi Sabi

    My heart reaches out to yours. Thank you for your story and your words of advice, they mean a lot to me.

  • DLL

    Sorry for Your loss and You are right, creativity doesn’t seem to be something, which can be simply turned “on”. By the way, the second photograph is really really great.

  • Peter Grifoni

    my Sympathies for your loss.
    My only advice to you is to read the most amazing book for re-discovering your inner creativity again. It’s called the ARTISTS WAY by Julia Cameron.
    You wont rgret it.