Slashing berms, sunset turns and tailgate beers - The recipe for creative block

It’s one of those things that we have all been through, that feeling of blankness, no motivation to get out with the camera, and when you do force yourself, you end up stopping at every cafe just to avoid putting the viewfinder up to your eye. We, as humans, put far too much pressure on ourselves to be better. I’ve only just realised at 35 that sometimes it’s ok to just be a bit shit. To not progress, to not achieve, and to not be constantly out there getting it done. It’s normal, the brain looks for distractions at every chance it gets, which is why the modern day life with its social media, constant news, or working with the TV on in the background makes it that much harder to concentrate. So, every now and then, I’ve realised it’s totally fine to just be a bit crap for a day or so, the key is to not fester on it. Turn off social media for a few days, you dont need to see the best of everyone else and get outside.
That’s exactly what I did with a recent shoot. Months ago I visited a very special place that’s off the beaten track here in Otago, New Zealand. I happened on it by complete accident, I was scrolling around on google maps looking at terrain when I notice a small landmark showing a local gold mine. I packed the car, grabbed the camera and set off into the middle of nowhere. I arrived just before sunset and found this charming slice of history to be perfectly lit up by the evening glow. As I walked around taking photos I kept thinking this would be a great place to get some mountain bikes and some skilled riders to play around in the old mine ruins.
Months went by, but I kept that place firmly at the front of my mind until I’d found the right creative mountain bikers who had local knowledge and the skills to see a playground out of anything

When the stars align, you have to take it as a sign. A last minute message to Pete (local shredder) who had grabbed a few friends, and we were off into the dry, baron landscape again. This time I had an exact image in my head of the photos I wanted, and the boys had the skills and attitude to just get the job done.The advantage of photographing a group of mates is that its all natural. You can capture moments that the best staging couldn’t, those intimate moments handing out a beer, petting the dog or discussing where they should go next are all things done with trust, and that comes across on camera.
The boys had a few places they knew of, but first order was to get the shots in my head done before we lost the light. It was a strange experience as I knew exactly where I wanted to be standing and where I wanted the boys to be riding. Pushing that shutter I knew I had captured what I came for. Some might call this flow state, and i’d have to agree.
The icing on the cake was when the boys took me to a few trails (if you can call them that) they had spent time figuring out how to ride. Steep, gnarly, almost vertical rock slabs that I didn’t even know a bike could get down and yet these guys were pinning it at breakneck speed. All I had to do was fire away.

The takeaway moments from this shoot was that sometimes you shouldn’t force things. Patience can bring about the most amazing opportunities. In a world where instant is now the norm, we forget that we aren’t built to sustain this fast moving, instant gratification seeking exsistance. By just being in the moment and stepping away from ‘thinking’ we can achieve whatever we want to. Creative block is real, but dont force yourself through it, just trust in your abilities that things will come good and do your best to help them along when the time comes.

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