Creative Withdrawal The Day After

Do you know how when you go out and splurge on a meal that’s chef-prepared, how it’s a bit of a let down the next day when you find yourself heating up a can of soup at home? (Even Amy’s, a good organic soup, it’s still a can of soup!)

Or you get to visit a large metropolitan city and see some of the best jazz artists alive play, it’s simply magical, and then you return home to your small town’s bar and there’s a guy on a microphone shouting out trivia questions?

It’s the day-after creative withdrawal, that’s what it is.

It’s what it’s like for me the day after a photo shoot. I love the making so much, then living with the finished photos once the edit is complete. I get so elated for having made strong storytelling photos. But that edit is always completed the same day, so that’s it. I send the work off to the creative director or photo editor. Done.

I’ve gotten my creative fix, but then the next day, if I’m between assignments, it’s like I don’t like an non-creative day. I have an insatiable desire to make work.

The day after, if I’m without a shoot, it’s a let down.

I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography last year, Born To Run, which I highly recommend. He’s a wordsmith in song and in storytelling, the read is a literary treat. In it, he said when he was touring, he never liked being off-stage, between gigs. He hated the in-between days. To him, the only place he felt excited and alive was onstage, playing a show, so that’s why he would often make a performance last three and four hours. As he wrote, “Once I got up there, I just wanted to keep playing, you couldn’t get rid of me.”

I can relate to that feeling today. I didn’t have a photo assignment–it was a day off. I don’t want days off. Creatives have to create.

I wrote a couple of blog posts–that always feels good. I brought my camera with me on my daily errands, and I often get to make a few photos for my project, but it’s the photo assignment that really does it for me. Shooting the assignment. Meeting people. Making decisions and turning a thousand possibilities into decisions–where to shoot, what to shoot, how to shoot, what light to use, what framing, connecting with the subject, etc.

It’s the gig. It’s being on stage.

As I wrote about it in my last blog post, when I’m working and making photographs, time stops. That’s the magical place for me.

Jessie and Jennifer, the subjects of my last photo shoot.

Then the next day, I’m like a kid at the amusement park who just hopped off a thrill ride. “Where to next?” I just want the fun to continue, to keep creating.

I wonder why that is, where that insatiable need to create comes from? I don’t have children. Perhaps my creativity is my legacy? My art, is that my offspring? Do other creatives go through withdrawal when the show ends, the lights go down and it’s time to go home?

And if there’s no show tomorrow–they have the day off?

I find that creativity is so important to me that I don’t have much interest in material things. I like my house, but it’s a rental and I don’t live for it. It’s comfortably decorated and works fine as-is. I’m not much of a TV watcher. I don’t watch sports–I want to live, do things, go out and play, get together with friends, create art, not watch other people play.

I have two vehicles, one 2WD, a 2009 Nissan Cube, and one 4WD, a 2002 Ford Escape so I’m covered in snowy Colorado weather. They’re older, but they run well and I only paid $5400 total for both vehicles, both had low miles when I got them. I don’t want new cars with car payments.

I’d rather buy creative tools. Film.

I do buy cameras sometimes and vintage leather bags that I find at antique shops to hold them. And lenses and sometimes old film equipment, even large-format cameras. That’s the only kind of purchase that matters to me, if it’s something I can create with.

The rest is just stuff to support my creative life and then it’s wake up and out the door I go in the morning, hopefully off to my next commissioned shoot, but nonetheless, always looking for my next picture.

Is that the life of a passionate artist or a madman? Maybe both. Either way, it’s the life of a creative. This creative.

Want to support my shows? You can, just visit this link at Paypal, or go to to add your monthly contribution to keep the lights on!

Check out my YouTube Channel of Photography Talks: my 6×6 Portraits Blog (you’re here) and my Daily Photography Podcast. Thanks!

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