When I first reached out to various creatives almost two years ago, the goal eventually was to develop a podcast for conversations about the industry. While that is still on my radar, I'm not ashamed to admit it is not in my wheelhouse. I want to do it right, and it takes time to learn and implement. That will still come, and I hope the podcast will follow up on the initial conversations I've had with many others regarding topics that can benefit us all.


"stagnancy is essential because it forces us to look for new approaches to achieve our end result"

As a 14-year veteran in the photography industry, Carl is very familiar with how stagnancy affects everyone. "There have been times where I felt my work was just blah. It could be from comparing myself to other photographers, and it could be from just being burned out from the daily rigors of life."

Carl Jones is a freelance team photographer with the Detroit Lions and works full-time. He received his degree in Supply Chain Management after military service and started pursuing photography seriously in 2010, despite being exposed to photography at a younger age by his father. When he decided on sports as his focus, he started with his boy's flag football games, which led to high school. He has since progressed from that little league start to the NFL. His journey along that way started with photographing for fun and practice and trying a variety of genres such as weddings, parties, and proms. During that time, he discovered that the journey had to satisfy him, and if it didn't, he wouldn't do it. "If you don't dabble just starting, you won't be able to identify what satisfies you." Although most of his time in the industry has been mainly sports-focused, he also enjoys fashion/editorial and commercial photography and plans on pursuing that more than he has in the past.

If you have run a marathon, you know there is a term for that last part of the race, around mile 20: the wall. Simply put, you run out of energy. Your legs don't want to move, you can't even imagine six more miles, and your mind makes you feel like you hit a wall.

Creatives also experience that wall, but ours is stagnancy—that state of inactivity, lack of creativity, lack of motivation, and all the other things that mentally make you feel like you aren't progressing.

Carl believes that stagnancy, like hitting the wall in a marathon, is essential in the creative process because it forces you to look for new approaches to achieve your result. Based on his experience over the years, he offers some suggestions for creatives so that when they hit that wall, they are prepared to use it as a way to learn and not as a way to be discouraged.

  • Take a week away from ALL photography.
  • Look to different genres (digital art, movies, fashion, car design, cityscapes, etc.). There is so much visual appeal out there that can inspire you.
  • Using times of stagnancy as a direction of renewing. Be motivated to create something new or try something new.
  • Take intentional breaks to alleviate long-term stagnancy.
  • Stretch creativity in ways you've not tried in the past.
  • One focal length for a whole shoot.
  • Shooting objects with a particular color
  • Shooting in one specific new space and producing 5-10 quality photos from that space.
  • Try something new that you've never done before.

"There is so much visual appeal out there to inspire us all. Inspiration comes from day-to-day life: colors, shapes, how the sun falls on objects, etc. Sometimes, you must stop and take in your surroundings at the lowest level."

We all encounter stagnancy. There are days when you feel like everything you shoot looks just like what everyone else is shooting, and there are days when you compare yourself to those around you and feel inadequate.

But there are also times when you feel excited about the work you are producing. This football season, Carl got to experience that. As a lifelong fan, season ticket holder, and now a freelance shooter for the Detroit Lions, he witnessed through his lens the fantastic season they had from ground zero. "Catching those moments and emotions from players and fans is my favorite memory so far."

Instead of letting stagnancy deter you, Carl says the key is always remaining a student. "We can learn a lot from the world around us and each other."

Thank you, Carl, for taking the time to talk about stagnancy. I appreciate the many conversations we've had about the creative industry. Maybe someday our paths will cross, and we'll get to shoot together!

To learn more about Carl and his work, please visit:

Instagram: @carljonesmedia @carljonesmedia_sports

Website: www.carljonesmedia.com

Images courtesy of Carl Jones.