I think most photographers, or artists of any kind, have experienced the feeling of unease that can arise when one is not "producing." People who make a living as artists may experience fewer periods of stagnancy, but for those of us who have "day jobs" and are trying to feed our need to create in whatever windows of time we can find, the feeling of discontentment can grow to the point of ennui. I have developed some strategies for getting out of periods of ennui in my own life. One is to make room for creativity, to make it a priority. In my case, it's not my number one priority. I'm not willing to sacrifice my good paying job in order to just do photography all day, because I don't have the confidence that I could make enough to support my family. I'm also not willing to spend ALL of my free time doing photography at the expense of spending time with my family. But, I do prioritize photography over many other possible uses of my time. I don't watch TV, I rarely go out, I go to bed early so I can get up before sunrise and go out looking for photos while my wife and daughter are sleeping. For the last few years, I can't remember a week going by when I have not taken photos of SOMETHING. The problem is finding that something. With a full time job and a family, it's difficult to go off climbing mountains every weekend, or anyway I'm not willing to miss out on that much family time. And, I don't get enough "clients" from my photography side business to keep consistently busy. So, often I just grab my camera and my light, portable 50mm lens and start walking. That's what I did last Sunday. It was a rainy, gray Sunday, and I was irritable, which is usually a sign that my creative side has been neglected, so I grabbed an umbrella and headed. out. Mostly out of reflex, I ended up walking to my local woods again, Idaka Ryokuchi Koen, a place I have visited MANY times. When you are very familiar with a place, it's easy to stop seeing it with fresh eyes, like the way we stop looking at a photo or a painting after awhile. It just becomes a familiar feature of the wall, and we forget why we hung it in the first place. So, the challenge is to see a place with fresh eyes. You look for light. You look for patterns. You look for details to extract from the overall, like the concentric ripples raindrops make when they enter water, or the way light filters through trees. Even walking around your neighborhood, there are discoveries to be made. Once I start superimposing rectangular borders on the visual world, telling the eye where to focus, I start seeing patterns and relationships I hadn't noticed before, even on a street I have walked fifty times, like painted kanji letters peeling from a wall, or a neon sign for a love hotel that promises jazz, but suggests emptiness. No, I don't think these photos are going to win any prizes from National Geographic. But, they do expand my vision and help to stave off the feeling of ennui until my next outing.