I am not even sure how to write about this, but I am in a weird photography dead space and have been. I don’t feel like taking one out the door each day. When I do take one along somewhere, most things feel sort of flat and uninspired when I get them into Lightroom. When I am in Lightroom, it feels a little overwhelming and I find myself wondering if I’d be happier just moving stuff into Photos and taking away some of the burden I feel when I Sit Down to Edit. It “helps” a little to just stick to the phone.

This has happened before, but this time around I am feeling the absence of interest and drive in a very acute, conscious way. In the past I might just go for a while not shooting, but also not thinking about it much, then one day I just feel like grabbing a camera and off I go and stay that way for months. This time, I can feel the dead weight of the previously spinning flywheel.

Someone linked back to my small downtown Portland collection, though, and it was very strange to look at that with fresh/dulled eyes months after putting it together. I felt very alienated from it. Couldn’t see or feel myself in those pictures.

I wonder if it’s a return to work adjustment. That’s getting a lot of intellectual and emotional energy right now. When the day is done, I’m feeling okay about things, but also very relieved to copy over the next day’s tasks and pointedly leave my office for the day so I can go sit downstairs and drift a little.

Years and years ago I had a thought about this sort of thing and writing. In college I had a long climb out of a deep conviction that I Could Not Write. The public education system said I couldn’t via assorted standardized tests, and my senior year literature teacher in high school felt my discomfort with writing so acutely that she let me draw my final paper as a series of illustrations about the themes in Crime and Punishment. I blossomed in college and had a few professors who encouraged my talent. I won a few writing awards and went on to work for a newspaper, write a book, and started a post-army career doing tech journalism. But it took years after that and a stint as an editor, where I had to work with people for whom writing was as mysterious a process to them as it was to me, to finally demystify it and accept that there was no magic in there that had been granted by some mystic benefactor, or could be taken away by some cosmic whim.

During that long climb, a friend said to me one day, trying to resolve the tension between us that well-meaning friends had introduced by comparing our writing, “I write because I learned how to do it as a skill and now I know how to do it well. You write because you have to, and everyone feels that. " It seemed to him that comparing those two things was pointless, and it was comforting to me to agree, because the whole thing could continue to live in some sheltered and unexamined corner, unjudged by my technician friend and safe from my own self-doubt.

It has been that way with photography, and I’ve thought about it a lot in the context of my writing journey, because I’ve never really progressed from something largely unexamined. I know I have some things I do when I put camera to eye, and there are things when I’m sitting down to edit that instantly bother me until I can correct them, and I know I can spend a very long time pushing things this direction or that direction until things feel right. But I also know that if I spend six months away from something I spent a lot of time on, I can come back to it and think “no, that wasn’t right after all.” When I have tried to formalize what I know and do, I never manage to metabolize The Rules. I don’t say that as some weird point of pride, but as a simple statement of fact. Photography books read the way Charlie Brown teachers sound. I have a bunch of them, each a well-meaning effort to Sit Down and Learn, and as I sit here staring at a row of them on the shelf I think it may be time to haul a bunch out to the Little Free Library. I guess I am making a conscious decision to let this thing sit only lightly examined, waiting to see if the current quiet period will simply continue on, or begin to squirm and ache a little, like restless legs on a hot night.

Anyhow, the new semantics of posts here are “if it doesn’t have a title I did not sit down with any particular intent and won’t try to trick you into thinking I had one by suggesting this is a complete thought.”

Selfie of a couple on a small motorboat. Bearded man in the foreground, woman in a broad-brimmed hat in the background. The prow of a small motorboat with a coiled black and white rope lying on the plywood floor. An outboard motor churns up blue-green water, a woman's forearm comes in from the side of the frame, hand holding the throttle.